Defining Characteristics in Success...

Steven Gaffney ...& 5 Essential Ingredients

During these challenging times when many people are overworked, understaffed and under-resourced, managing your career and keeping motivated may be a tough challenge. This may result in being unfocused, resigned and negative which in turn affects morale, teamwork and productivity.

I used to have a television show where I interviewed people at the tops of their fields. I found that one of the defining characteristics in succeeding, is the ability to have an “ownership attitude.” In other words, we are responsible for our own attitude and we are 100% responsible for our own actions. We cannot choose the stimulus but we can always choose our response.

We are responsible for our thoughts, opinions, assumptions and conclusions as well. We choose to think and act a certain way. No one makes us think or do anything. This may seem simple, but how often have you caught yourself or someone else saying:

  • They pressured me

  • They made me say this

  • They made me do this

  • They ruined my day.

Even though we often say these types of things, it really does not make logical sense because in essence we are saying “they” control us. It is as if we are saying that “they” crept into our body and made us think, say and do certain things. Obviously, this is not the truth. We are in control of ourselves. The only way that someone can ever control us is if we allow them to do so. We may not always be able to choose the events that occur in life, but we can always choose how to respond.

We may feel better in the short run when we blame someone else, but it is only a matter of time before the misery returns. Why? When we blame others, we relinquish control to do something about the situation. In other words, we are saying that the other person is responsible and we have to wait for them to do something about the situation. A great question to ask yourself is, Why do we allow this person or situation to bother us? The answer to this question may reveal a fear or insecurity in ourselves that may be helpful to address. (Example: If a co-worker is not performing up to standard we may become upset. Becoming upset may reveal that we are afraid of the way others may be perceiving our work or judging us as a manager or employee.)

Blaming others causes us to become close-minded to possible solutions and blind to the ways in which we may be personally contributing to a difficult situation.

Taking full responsibility of our actions, our response and our life is crucial to our success. So rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being the worst and 10 being the best) on each of the following 5 essential ingredients of achieving this “ownership attitude”:

    1. Ability to let go: Rather than dragging our past failures around every day, build from the past. The key to doing this is to ask yourself, “What empowering lessons can I learn from the past, so when I look back, I will have benefited from the experience?” For example, if you do not get the promotion you want, find out why and what you need to do to attain that promotion. (See previous email advice on forgiveness.)

    2. Focus: Concentrate on yourself and what you can control. One of the most important questions you can ask yourself (no matter what the situation) is, “What am I going to do about it?”

    3. Coachability: Be willing to listen and learn from everyone. For example, when you receive some negative feedback from someone you may not like, you must not shoot the messenger. Instead, look for the “gold.” (Often the part that we get defensive about is the part we really need to be listening to).

    4. Commitment: Do whatever it takes to accomplish your goal. Commitment is about taking action based on what you said you would do despite how you feel about it in the moment. For example, tell 10 people you are going to do something (make it public knowledge) and ask them to hold you accountable to it—that will produce some change!

    5. Action: Planning is good but action is the key. This is where the doers separate themselves from the talkers. All the planning, learning and conversations in the world will have zero effect unless action is taken. We’ve all had an idea and not done something about it only to find out that someone had a similar idea, implemented it and reaped the rewards. Taking action, making requests and doing something about it are the keys to accomplishing your goals. Remember: generally speaking some action is much better than no action. You can always change, reverse or alter your course of action, but the key is to take action!

Now that you have rated yourself, pick the lowest score and ask 5 people for advice. Then choose 3 specific actions based on this advice and do it.

Having an ownership attitude and using these 5 essential ingredients will help you overcome challenging times so you can achieve your goals. You make things happen. You determine your success. Now the key is to seize the moment and do something about it? It is up to you!

Copyright 2004 by Steven Gaffney and the Steven Gaffney Company.

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Category: Communicating
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