When I started my career, it was just a job.
I wasn’t enthusiastic. I came in, got my work done, and went home.
I wasn’t ambitious and never thought about my own development.
Instead, I did what was easy.
My wake-up call came when I had my first review.
My boss wasn’t impressed with my work. He told me I wasn’t making an impact.
I was devastated.
I didn’t want to be ineffective and unimpressive. I spent most of my time working, why not try to be the best at what I do?
I became more ambitious and started to refocus my priorities.
I joined a group for high potential associates and began work on my self-development and took responsibility for my own success.
I started to take on big projects, and at first, I failed miserably.
But I learned the importance of planning.
I landed a leadership position. I had my first conflict with a difficult associate. Again, I failed, but I promised myself I would not make the same mistake twice.
I struggled, but in the process, I learned that the problem-solvers, not the nay-sayers, were the ones that achieved the most success.
I learned to do the best with what I had.
In fact we tend to fail a lot more than we succeed. But it’s how we handle failure that makes us successful.
So, I made it a commitment to learn from my failures.
The most important of these I’ve turned into quotes and used them to develop a successful mindset.
These are my 5 quotes to develop a successful mindset.
5 Quotes To Follow To Develop A Successful Mindset
#1. Your Bosses Priorities Are Your Priorities
When my career began, my priorities were simple.
I focused on tasks that I enjoyed, jobs I felt comfortable with. Work was easy, and I felt like I was doing well until my yearly review.
My boss wasn’t impressed.
He noticed that when I came to work, I gravitated towards the same tasks. He thought that I was coasting and told me that I wasn’t making much of an impact.
It bruised my ego, but I understood his point.
I was prioritizing what was easy as opposed to what would get the best results, and I realized something else. I didn’t know enough about my job to understand what to prioritize.
Later in my career, I got a new job.
My boss was on family leave, and I wouldn’t meet him for a few weeks. At first, I was unsure of what to prioritize, but I wanted to make a good impression and help the business grow. So, I asked around.
I questioned other associates about the boss’s priorities:
- What was his schedule?
- What was he working on the most?
- What did he want them to prioritize?
I put myself in his shoes, and asked myself:
- What tasks did the schedule revolve around?
- What was he trying to accomplish by the work that he focused on?
- Why did he want his associates to focus on these tasks?
- How does this link together into the big picture?
I started implementing the same routine and used the associates’ insight to determine the boss’s priorities.
Over time, I began to understand.
He prioritized specific departments over others and I could see why, they were struggling. He prioritized certain tasks over others because they helped the bottom line.
He prioritized his boss’s communications because she would follow up too see if he was executing.
When I finally met the boss, he was ecstatic.
He assumed everything that he was working on would fall by the wayside.
But I took the time to understand his priorities and kept up with his goals.
I developed a good relationship with the struggling departments and implemented new routines to grow effectiveness. I kept a binder of communications to keep up with execution. I worked on tasks that helped the bottom line.
He praised me for my work in my next review, and that he would provide a letter of recommendation for a promotion.
It’s easy to focus on the tasks that we like to do. It’s comfortable. But it’s not an excellent way to prioritize.
It’s vital to prioritize results that make an impact, to focus on the goals of the company.
- Read now: Click here to learn how to stay focused
So, whenever you question what you should be working on to make the most impact, remember, your boss’s priorities are your priorities.
#2. You Are Responsible For Your Own Success
I used to be a part of a HiPo Group, a group of high potential employee’s put together by the company to boost internal growth.
The program was useful, and provided good opportunities for advancement, but the members had one resounding complaint. My manager doesn’t take the time to train me.
As a HiPo, we each created an Individual Development Plan by listing three goals for self-improvement, creating action steps to achieve those goals, and setting deadlines for their accomplishment.
Every associate had an IDP, but very few ever completed them. When asked why, they would place the blame on something or someone other than themselves.
The most popular excuses were:
- “My manager never scheduled training.”
- “There was too much going on, so I couldn’t get to it.”
Sometimes these were valid excuses.
Managers weren’t taking the time to schedule training, and sometimes we were busy.
So, the managers were talked to, and the deadlines pushed back, but the results were the same.
Most people would come to the next meeting and be in the same place as before with plans not executed.
The obstacles, which the associates brought up, were irrelevant.
The managers were required to schedule training, and the deadlines extended to take into account business demands.
There was only one thing missing. The associate’s own initiative.
When I made an IDP, I asked my boss for feedback.
What could I do to be make myself a better candidate for promotion?
She gave me a list of a few things. Most of them were technical skills that I would need help from others to learn how to do.
Most notably, she wanted me to learn how to make a schedule.
I asked her if she would train me, and she said she would, but a few weeks went by, and I didn’t get any of the training promised.
So, I decided to take the initiative.
I actively searched for alternative ways of getting the training I needed:
- I read the standard practice on how to make a schedule
- I familiarized myself with the application by fooling around with it after I got out of work.
- I observed other people making the schedule and asked them questions.
Soon, I felt confident enough for the real thing.
Next time my boss went to make a schedule, I told her I had gotten some experience and asked if I could try.
She agreed and let me create a rough draft. I made a few mistakes, but overall, she was impressed. As a result, she became more interested in my self-development.
I consistently asked her to show me things that I didn’t know how to do.
Once, when we were working on the schedule, I asked if we could plan some time to work on another technical skill on my list, she did. With enough persistence, I was able to complete my entire IDP.
It’s easy to place blame or make excuses for why you are unsuccessful.
You can plan to accomplish your goals, but if you don’t follow through, you can’t expect others to.
Take the initiative, find alternatives when you have too, and be persistent because at the end of the day, you are responsible for your own success.
#3. Plan To Plan Your Planning
The first time I managed a charity campaign, it was a disaster.
The company I worked for put on the campaign yearly.
All the associates were asked if they wanted to donate, but not required too. Everyone had to complete a form, whether they were giving or not.
They asked the managers for a 100% completion rate and held a competition, with a prize going to the manager who had received the most donations.
The goal was simple. Get everyone to sign the form and solicit as many donations as possible.
I thought it would be easy, so I didn’t make a plan.
Instead, I winged it.
I asked all the associates I saw in person if they wanted to sign-up. I believed this would be a good idea since I thought that face-to-face interaction would make people more likely to donate, but there was a fatal flaw.
There were a lot of people I didn’t see regularly, and I didn’t have a plan to reach out to them.
On top of that, I had a vacation planned during the second week of the 3-week campaign.
When I came back, my boss was furious.
He pointed out how far we were from a 100% completion rate and that we were in last place for donations.
Throughout the last week of the campaign, I came in early, worked longer hours, and asked for help wherever I could get it. It was hopeless. I was up a river without a paddle.
The results were abysmal.
I had a completion rate of 46% and was in last place for donations.
The next year I asked to try again. I wanted to redeem myself.
I told my boss that I was unprepared last time, but this time I would be ready. Fortunately, he gave me a shot.
I began by recruiting an associate who was strong in areas where I was weak. She was more creative and excellent at planning events. We began by scheduling time to prepare.
We met to discuss our goals to solicit donations and achieve a 100% completion rate.
We created action steps to meet our goals:
- To solicit donations, we created pay-to-play activities, raffles, and cookouts.
- To achieve a 100% completion rate, we created a list of everyone we needed, the times they would be available, and how we would get the form to each one.
We set up our deadlines earlier than required so that we were flexible if something went wrong.
Finally, throughout the campaign, we scheduled times to re-evaluate our plan.
We used this time to check where we were in reference to our goal, review what was working and what wasn’t, and then updated our plan with a focus on what was driving results.
The results were phenomenal.
We had the highest completion rate in the district and were in first place for donations.
Even simple projects can be more complicated than they seem at first. Not having a plan can be a recipe for disaster.
Good plans take time to create.
They recognize goals, lay out the action steps to achieve them, and set deadlines. It’s a lot of work, and it’s essential to set aside time to plan.
Don’t think of plans as set in stone.
Sometimes your action steps don’t get you the results you want, deadlines change, and other obstacles get in the way. So, you should take the time to reevaluate your plan.
During the reevaluation, ask yourself:
- Are we making progress?
- Which action steps are driving results?
- Which action steps are not?
- Do we have any new information or obstacles to take into consideration?
- Are we on track to meet our deadline?
Planning is essential to achieving your goals, and creating a great plan takes time. So, remember, plan to plan your planning.
#4. Don’t Be A Rookie. Don’t Make The Same Mistake Twice
The first time I had a difficult conversation with an employee, I put it off for days.
An associate was insubordinate. She blatantly ignored her tasks and was disrespectful to me in front of other associates.
Corporate recently cut bookkeeper hours. After they finished the office work, they were required to attend to the customers.
As a bookkeeper, she hated this new rule and took it out on me.
As a result, I had to give her written documentation for insubordination.
I knew how serious of an offense this was and was nervous about delivering it.
I would bring her into the office and peevishly tell her she was getting written documentation. She would explode and cause a scene.
I would stand there with a dumb look on my face as she screamed at me in front of associates and customers and lose everyone’s respect.
At least, this is how I imagined it would happen.
It played out like this in my head, repeatedly, for weeks.
I was nervous about going to work.
My heart would sink every time I saw her. I kept chickening out, and the documentation sat untouched in my file cabinet.
Finally, I mustered up the strength to deliver it. Her reaction was not what I expected.
I was more confident than I imagined. She sat there and listened shyly and flushed.
She did not explode or cause a scene.
Instead, she apologized for the way she was acting and promised it wouldn’t happen again. And it didn’t.
I spent weeks dreading this conversation, and when it finally happened, it was nothing like I imagined.
I made the mistake of not having this conversation in the moment and suffered because of it.
The next time I had a difficult conversation, I handled it right away.
An associate was fed up with the way things were going. He wasn’t upset with me in particular, but he wanted to make his frustrations known.
He started shouting and became red with anger, swearing and motioning his fists close to my face. I felt threatened and extremely uncomfortable.
After he berated me for 20 minutes, I turned to leave.
Shaken up and walking away, I knew I was going to have to have a conversation with him about what just happened. I started to feel sick to my stomach and remembered the last time I felt this way.
I didn’t want to feel that way again.
I stopped imagining.
I went back and pulled him aside.
I told him that I understood his frustrations, but the way he talked to me made me feel uncomfortable. I wanted to help solve his problems, but the way he got his point across was inappropriate and threatening.
He apologized for how he reacted. He was easily excitable and didn’t mean to take it out on me. He had nothing against me and wasn’t trying to make me feel threatened.
He instantly cooled off, and we were able to refocus the conversation on his problems. I left that night with a load off my chest, and I’m sure he felt the same way.
We learn some of the most valuable life lessons from our own mistakes.
But how many people do you know make the same mistakes over and over again?
We’re often guilty of it ourselves.
Mistakes are only useful when we learn from them and remember not to make them again.
Don’t be a rookie. Don’t make the same mistake twice.
#5. Do The Best With What You’ve Got
One of the departments I was overseeing always seemed to struggle. They struggled with meeting expectations, and they became paralyzed under stress.
When I asked them to get something done, they always had the same responses:
- There is no way we can get this done.
- There’s not enough time.
- There are not enough people.
- We already have too much on our plate.
The response was always defensive. They were not recognizing obstacles and finding alternative ways to solve the issues. They were using them as excuses for not trying.
Because they did not practice problem-solving when new problems arose, it paralyzed them, and their first reaction was to call for help.
Sometimes, they really could use the help, and it was good to ask for it.
But they called so much that you couldn’t tell the difference between extreme circumstances and just another day. They kept crying wolf.
The constant interruptions became a hassle.
The department created more problems than solutions and took time away from other departments and priorities.
It got to the point where I wondered if they were competent enough for the job.
Another department that worked for us rarely asked for help. The management team loved them, and any manager would be glad to help them when they asked.
It didn’t matter how many issues they ran into. They could have constant call-outs, a ton of traffic, or a monkey wrench thrown into their day, but, inevitably, they would figure out how to handle it themselves.
If they did need your assistance, you knew they were in real trouble because they only asked for help when they exhausted every other option.
They recognized their part in the big picture, knew it was their duty to keep their department under control and believed in themselves enough to get it done.
Even when they didn’t have enough people, or it seemed like they wouldn’t have enough time, they kept a positive attitude and always found a way to get it done.
When put in charge, it is your responsibility to get the job done.
If you are consistently looking for help from others, it makes you appear incompetent. People begin to wonder why you are in charge in the first place.
Be a problem solver.
- What does success look like?
- If you don’t have the people you need, what are other ways where you can utilize your resources to still get the necessary results?
- If your deadline is getting close, what can you take away from the process to cut down on the time it takes to accomplish your goal?
Once you know what the objectives are, you can prioritize what is necessary, and strip away the superfluous to get the job done efficiently and effectively.
It is essential to be able to discern when it is time to ask for help.
Most of the time, you will find that you can get your job done with what you have. If you have exhausted all other options, then you can and should ask for help.
Don’t complain. Remember, do the best with what you’ve got.
At the end of the day, you need to develop a successful mindset if you want to achieve greatness.
The lessons I provided here are a jumping off point for you to look at your own life and evaluate where you need improvement.
It can be stressful to face up to our shortcomings and past mistakes.
But the more you look within and learn to grow, the more success you will experience in life.
Author Bio: Daniel Freedman is the founder of Accelerate Your Career, a career-enhancing website whose goal is to provide you with the knowledge, tools, and coaching to take control of your own success. Break free from the monotonous routine of just another day at the office, and Jumpstart Your Career. Learn more about him here.