- Have you seen people with less talent than you become famous?
- Do you think you should have achieved far more than you have?
- Do you think someone from your village has kept your greatness in a Calabash and buried it under the dreaded one-hundred and fifty years old Iroko tree at the village square?
- Do you think I’m being ridiculous?
I wasn’t being ridiculous until I got to the Iroko tree, and even in that question, there is an element of truth. Really, do you think something is stopping or slowing down your progress in your career, business or even your love life? If the answer is yes, have you considered that the something slowing down your progress may actually be a someone, and that someone may be you? Don’t be in a hurry to rush off, I’m not here to judge you, rather I’m here to bring a different perspective to your current situation. It doesn’t matter whether you already have a measure of success or you are still a work in progress, run through this list and see what you need to stop doing to have a more productive life, and prevent you from being an enemy of your own progress (Also known as an E.P.)
1. You Can’t Recognise Progress
So you applied for six jobs this month. You landed six interviews but got rejected by all six companies. You feel devastated and believe that the calabash is firmly buried in the village. What you fail to remember is that last month, you applied for five jobs and got called for just one interview. You don’t recognise that the extra time and effort you spent tweaking your C.V throughout the month, such that your C.V became good enough to attract all six companies, is a sign of progress. Just because you haven’t landed that job does not mean you are not moving in the right direction. It is important for you to recognise snippets of progress, particularly when you have not gotten to your end goal, so you won’t give in to discouragement.
2. You Don’t Celebrate Your Successes
So you just got a job offer, but because it is not the job you want, you don’t think it worthy of celebration. Your business finally reached a target of 1,000 customers, but because you achieved that target late, you don’t bother to announce on social media. You graduated from university after a freak extra semester, so you are of the opinion that graduation jollof rice is not in order. Oh dear friend, how wrong you are. You need to celebrate your successes. Shout it loud for the world to hear (okay, maybe not the world), but people who really matter, because if you don’t celebrate yourself, who will?
3. Everything About You Is Top Secret
I had a friend in university whom I used to tease a lot. I always accused her of “hiding guys.” Basically, when my friend has a new guy showing romantic interest in her, she ensures that her other friends don’t meet the guy. By doing this, she usually misses the opportunity to hear dirty details (if any) about the guy. Anyway, she landed herself in an emotional hot-mess with one of the guys she was hiding. She could have avoided this emotional hot-mess if she confided in a few of her close friends. Superimpose this scenario onto anything else in your life. You want to start a new business but you have not asked anyone for advice, for fear that they will steal your ides. You plan to apply to business school, but you don’t want anyone to know what you are up to. If you are like this, you are missing out on great advice from people who have gone ahead of you, or know people who have gone ahead of you.
4. You Don’t Think You Are Good Enough
Now this is a very big one for all of us. Maybe people tell you how the last story you wrote moved them to tears, or how the report you prepared for the CEO was presented at the board meeting, without further editing. The start-up idea you have gets people excited all the time, and they tell you that you will be the next Mark Zuckerberg. However, no matter what they say, you can’t shake off that lingering feeling that they all don’t really know what they are talking about, and the story you wrote, or the presentation you made was not that great. Honestly, you are not alone in feeling this way. This feeling comes from a mix of humility and lack of confidence, but you need to deal with it. My prescription is that you continue what you are doing. Keep writing. Keep preparing those presentations. Keep investing in your start-up. Don’t stop doing what you do, irrespective of how you feel, and sometime soon, you might succeed in also convincing yourself of your awesomeness.
5. You Are Too Afraid To Try
You are sometimes so crippled by fear that you cannot take a step. You are convinced that your grades are not good enough, so you don’t apply for your dream job . You are too scared to even write your ideas, and even if you take the bold step to write, you do absolutely nothing about them. I have been here before, and honestly, it is still a constant struggle for me to try something new, but I realised that great ideas do not change the world, only great ideas acted upon have the potential to change the world.
6. You Have Stayed In The Wrong Environment For Too Long
When was the last time you faced a new challenge or deliberately took yourself out of your comfort zone? You have been on one spot for so long that you are already growing roots. Sometimes if you don’t make a move you may never get the opportunity to maximize your capacity. If you are passionate about travelling but you are stuck at your nine to five job, you don’t have to quit suddenly because you are convinced it is time to change your environment. What you can do is to take time out during the weekends to explore your passion. Go to local attractions in your city and write about it. Slowly ease yourself out of that static environment. On the other hand, if you are bold enough and have calculated the costs, you may want to take a drastic step (but I honestly prefer the first approach).
7. You Have Refused To Change Your Friends
A lot of people do not believe it, but I am slightly socially awkward. I find it a bit hard to make friends. Yes, it is easy for me to talk to a bunch of strangers and we say polite things to each other, but having people cross the friendship threshold is a big step for me. I took time out to think about why I am very careful with choosing friends, and I realised that it is because when you become my friend, there are no barriers. I don’t know how to do a little friendship. Once we become friends, I might actually start to call you “lover”, because I believe our lives are intertwined (needy much). I share a lot of my dreams and plans with my friends, and something that I have found that builds friendships quickly is when the friend can understand, support and constructively criticize my plans, ideas or actions. If you are not fortunate to have lovers/friends like mine, and your friends are those who are not knowledgeable, cannot add value to your idea or constructively criticise you, then you are short-changing yourself. You need to have friends whose judgement you trust and who will fight tooth and nail to help you achieve your dreams.
8. You Are An Automatic Excuse Generating Machine
All your sentences start with “I can’t do this because…” You are so talented at being an automatic excuse generating machine, that your excuses convince others and even convince you too. In honesty, there is usually a challenge or the other stopping you from taking action, but guess what, those taking action also have challenges, but they still chose to forge ahead. Today your excuse is that you don’t have money, when you get some money, the new excuse is that you don’t have time, after which you are constantly tired. Okay oh, that calabash is buried very deep.
9. You Don’t Manage Time Well
Have you ever opened your computer to start a course on Coursera, and then realise three hours later, that you spent the entire time watching YouTube videos about puppies or 9.11 conspiracy theories? If you have, welcome to my world! It takes a lot of dedication to concentrate in a world where distractions appear at the click of a button, but do not fear, I’ll give you a secret that is helping me get better. When I see that I am spending a ridiculous amount of time faffing around on the internet, I usually remember that the only reason I am able to faff around on these pages is because the creators of those pages were NOT faffing around! Get it? So I get motivated to get on my grind as a lawyer, writer or business woman, depending on what day of the week it is, and I get back to work to create the amazing content that you love. This is still a constant struggle for me. I started watching Downton Abbey, but I had to caution myself at the end of season three, because there are three more seasons to go, and I am not ready to start sleeping on the job.
10. You Are Too Much Of A Perfectionist
Yes, I know who you are. You agonize over a sentence because it doesn’t sound right. You are afraid of giving your supervisors that report because you have only read through it eighteen times, not the twenty times you promised yourself. I may be exaggerating a bit, but you get my drift. I think it is wonderful to want to do your best all the time, but sometimes, you have to do a cost-benefit analysis to find out what is more important. Is it more important to send that report on time or to ensure that the space in-between each sentence is the same? Honestly, both may be equally important depending on the circumstances, but where submitting on time is more important, don’t let the quest for perfection keep you from doing what is necessary. That being said, I think it is good to be a perfectionist, but everything must be done in moderation. However, if you know that you are too much of a perfectionist, and this slows you down, you need to start making the extra effort to minimise errors from the beginning.
11. You Are Just Lazy
Did you for one second imagine that I won’t come to you. In Don Jazzy’s voice “If this is your weakness, please come and collect it.” Some of us are so lazy, and it shows in various aspects of our lives, from room cleanliness (cough) to dream chasing. I remember speaking to a law professor a few years ago, and he told me that talent without hard work is not enough, and I completely agree with him. If you want to move to where you think you deserve to be, wake up from your dream and act.
I hope this motivates you to take a few new steps. Note that I am not in any way overruling the importance of time and chance, also known as opportunity and positioning. If you don’t do any of the eleven things listed above, but you still find that you are not making as much progress as you like, I recommend that you stay consistent, and try to redefine your definition of success. Remember that not all superheroes wear capes, and not all successes end up in the newspapers.
Drop a comment below to share more ways we are our own worst E.Ps.
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