Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean that you’re not going to make dumb mistakes, mistakes that can hamper your career and hold you back.
1. Believe thinking and talking are the same as doing.
Planning and preparation are important ingredients in achieving success, but the most important thing of all is action. You cannot think your way to success no matter how smart you are. At some point, you need to roll your sleeves up and make it happen.
2. Wait to be promoted before doing the next level job.
If you want to be a leader, then you need to start leading. Leadership isn’t a title or a position; it’s about action, influence and the ability to drive results. Throughout my career, I have seen hundreds of smart people wait to be offered a leadership position before they start to lead. But that’s like waiting to be picked for a football team before you learn to be good at football. More often than not it’s not going to happen. Lead first, and then the position will come.
3. Fail to communicate clearly.
When you communicate, it’s the responsibility of the person sending the message to make sure that it’s received and understood. You need to explain things clearly and simply. When people can understand, then they can implement. Too often it’s left to the party receiving the message to figure out what was being said, and what needs to be done. Just because you’re smart enough to know what you’ve said doesn’t mean that the person receiving the message fully understood it. And when smart people get this one wrong, it can result in failure for both.
4. Don’t Delegate Enough.
“It would be quicker if I just did it myself” is a phrase you often hear from those who either struggle to delegate or who don’t like to delegate. But when you refuse to delegate work you limit your team’s achievements to what you can achieve yourself. When you delegate, it allows you to increase your results and impact significantly.
If you cannot delegate then you become indispensable at your current level, which might sound like a good thing, but it could actually stop you from being promoted.
5. Don’t listen to or ask for feedback.
To improve performance, you need to get feedback. Feedback is the breakfast of champions. It allows you to know what went well and what needs to be worked on. Without feedback, you can develop bad habits that reduce both your effectiveness and efficiency. Don’t be the person who, just because they’re smart, thinks they know it all. We can all do better, and to improve you need to both ask for and listen to feedback.
6. Wait until they are 100% ready before taking a shot.
Perfect is the enemy of good enough, and if you wait until everything is perfect, then you will never achieve anything. Yes, you can always do a little bit more preparation, but one of the keys to success is starting.
Great opportunities don’t come along every day, and if you wait until you feel you are ready, you can miss them.
7. Underestimate the value of the not so smart.
Just because someone lacks a particular educational qualification doesn’t mean that their ideas or input should be ignored when offered. In many cases, experience is a much more valuable commodity than intelligence. It’s great to learn from your mistakes, but it’s much smarter to learn from those of others, so you can save time and money by avoiding making them yourselves.
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