The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People: How to Succeed at Self-Sabotage Guest Post by Cloe Madanes

Most of us claim we want to be happy—to have meaningful lives, enjoy ourselves, experience fulfillment, and share love and friendship with other people and maybe other species, like dogs, cats, birds, and whatnot. Strangely enough, however, some people act as if they just want to be miserable, and they succeed remarkably at inviting misery into their lives, even though they get little apparent benefit from it, since being miserable doesn’t help them find lovers and friends, get better jobs, make more money, or go on more interesting vacations. Why do they do this? After perusing the output of some of the finest brains in the therapy profession, I’ve come to the conclusion that misery is an art form, and the satisfaction people seem to find in it reflects the creative effort required to cultivate it. In other words, when your living conditions are stable, peaceful, and prosperous—no civil wars raging in your streets, no mass hunger, no epidemic disease, no vexation from poverty—making yourself miserable is a craft all its own, requiring imagination, vision, and ingenuity. It can even give life a distinctive meaning.

So if you aspire to make yourself miserable, what are the best, most proven techniques for doing it? Let’s exclude some obvious ways, like doing drugs, committing crimes, gambling, and beating up your spouse or neighbor. Subtler strategies, ones that won’t lead anyone to suspect that you’re acting deliberately, can be highly effective. But you need to pretend that you want to be happy, like everybody else, or people won’t take your misery seriously. The real art is to behave in ways that’ll bring on misery while allowing you to claim that you’re an innocent victim, ideally of the very people from whom you’re forcibly extracting compassion and pity.

Here, I cover most areas of life, such as family, work, friends, and romantic partners. These areas will overlap nicely, since you can’t ruin your life without ruining your marriage and maybe your relationships with your children and friends. It’s inevitable that as you make yourself miserable, you’ll be making those around you miserable also, at least until they leave you—which will give you another reason to feel miserable. So it’s important to keep in mind the benefits you’re accruing in your misery.

• When you’re miserable, people feel sorry for you. Not only that, they often feel obscurely guilty, as if your misery might somehow be their fault. This is good! There’s power in making other people feel guilty. The people who love you and those who depend on you will walk on eggshells to make sure that they don’t say or do anything that will increase your misery.

• When you’re miserable, since you have no hopes and expect nothing good to happen, you can’t be disappointed or disillusioned.

• Being miserable can give the impression that you’re a wise and worldly person, especially if you’re miserable not just about your life, but about society in general. You can project an aura of someone burdened by a form of profound, tragic, existential knowledge that happy, shallow people can’t possibly appreciate.

Honing Your Misery Skills

Let’s get right to it and take a look at some effective strategies to become miserable. This list is by no means exhaustive, but engaging in four or five of these practices will help refine your talent.

1. Be afraid, be very afraid, of economic loss. In hard economic times, many people are afraid of losing their jobs or savings. The art of messing up your life consists of indulging these fears, even when there’s little risk that you’ll actually suffer such losses. Concentrate on this fear, make it a priority in your life, moan continuously that you could go broke any day now, and complain about how much everything costs, particularly if someone else is buying. Try to initiate quarrels about other people’s feckless, spendthrift ways, and suggest that the recession has resulted from irresponsible fiscal behavior like theirs.

Fearing economic loss has several advantages. First, it’ll keep you working forever at a job you hate. Second, it balances nicely with greed, an obsession with money, and a selfishness that even Ebenezer Scrooge would envy. Third, not only will you alienate your friends and family, but you’ll likely become even more anxious, depressed, and possibly even ill from your money worries. Good job!

Exercise: Sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and, for 15 minutes, meditate on all the things you could lose: your job, your house, your savings, and so forth. Then brood about living in a homeless shelter.

2. Practice sustained boredom. Cultivate the feeling that everything is predictable, that life holds no excitement, no possibility for adventure, that an inherently fascinating person like yourself has been deposited into a completely tedious and pointless life through no fault of your own. Complain a lot about how bored you are. Make it the main subject of conversation with everyone you know so they’ll get the distinct feeling that you think they’re boring. Consider provoking a crisis to relieve your boredom. Have an affair (this works best if you’re already married and even better if you have an affair with someone else who’s married); go on repeated shopping sprees for clothes, cars, fancy appliances, sporting equipment (take several credit cards, in case one maxes out); start pointless fights with your spouse, boss, children, friends, neighbors; have another child; quit your job, clean out your savings account, and move to a state you know nothing about.

A side benefit of being bored is that you inevitably become boring. Friends and relatives will avoid you. You won’t be invited anywhere; nobody will want to call you, much less actually see you. As this happens, you’ll feel lonely and even more bored and miserable.

Exercise: Force yourself to watch hours of mindless reality TV programs every day, and read only nonstimulating tabloids that leave you feeling soulless. Avoid literature, art, and keeping up with current affairs.

3. Give yourself a negative identity. Allow a perceived emotional problem to absorb all other aspects of your self-identification. If you feel depressed, become a Depressed Person; if you suffer from social anxiety or a phobia, assume the identity of a Phobic Person or a Person with Anxiety Disorder. Make your condition the focus of your life. Talk about it to everybody, and make sure to read up on the symptoms so you can speak about them knowledgeably and endlessly. Practice the behaviors most associated with that condition, particularly when it’ll interfere with regular activities and relationships. Focus on how depressed you are and become weepy, if that’s your identity of choice. Refuse to go places or try new things because they make you too anxious. Work yourself into panic attacks in places it’ll cause the most commotion. It’s important to show that you don’t enjoy these states or behaviors, but that there’s nothing you can do to prevent them.

Practice putting yourself in the physiological state that represents your negative identity. For example, if your negative identity is Depressed Person, hunch your shoulders, look at the floor, breathe shallowly. It’s important to condition your body to help you reach your negative peak as quickly as possible.

Exercise: Write down 10 situations that make you anxious, depressed, or distracted. Once a week, pick a single anxiety-provoking situation, and use it to work yourself into a panic for at least 15 minutes.

4. Pick fights. This is an excellent way of ruining a relationship with a romantic partner. Once in a while, unpredictably, pick a fight or have a crying spell over something trivial and make unwarranted accusations. The interaction should last for at least 15 minutes and ideally occur in public. During the tantrum, expect your partner to be kind and sympathetic, but should he or she mention it later, insist that you never did such a thing and that he or she must have misunderstood what you were trying to say. Act injured and hurt that your partner somehow implied you weren’t behaving well.

Another way of doing this is to say unexpectedly, “We need to talk,” and then to barrage your partner with statements about how disappointed you are with the relationship. Make sure to begin this barrage just as your partner is about to leave for some engagement or activity, and refuse to end it for at least an hour. Another variation is to text or phone your partner at work to express your issues and disappointments. Do the same if your partner is out with friends.

Exercise: Write down 20 annoying text messages you could send to a romantic partner. Keep a grudge list going, and add to it daily.

5. Attribute bad intentions. Whenever you can, attribute the worst possible intentions to your partner, friends, and coworkers. Take any innocent remark and turn it into an insult or attempt to humiliate you. For example, if someone asks, “How did you like such and such movie?” you should immediately think, He’s trying to humiliate me by proving that I didn’t understand the movie, or He’s preparing to tell me that I have poor taste in movies. The idea is to always expect the worst from people. If someone is late to meet you for dinner, while you wait for them, remind yourself of all the other times the person was late, and tell yourself that he or she is doing this deliberately to slight you. Make sure that by the time the person arrives, you’re either seething or so despondent that the evening is ruined. If the person asks what’s wrong, don’t say a word: let him or her suffer.

Exercise: List the names of five relatives or friends. For each, write down something they did or said in the recent past that proves they’re as invested in adding to your misery as you are.

6. Whatever you do, do it only for personal gain. Sometimes you’ll be tempted to help someone, contribute to a charity, or participate in a community activity. Don’t do it, unless there’s something in it for you, like the opportunity to seem like a good person or to get to know somebody you can borrow money from some day. Never fall into the trap of doing something purely because you want to help people. Remember that your primary goal is to take care of Numero Uno, even though you hate yourself.

Exercise: Think of all the things you’ve done for others in the past that haven’t been reciprocated. Think about how everyone around you is trying to take from you. Now list three things you could do that would make you appear altruistic while bringing you personal, social, or professional gain.

7. Avoid gratitude. Research shows that people who express gratitude are happier than those who don’t, so never express gratitude. Counting your blessings is for idiots. What blessings? Life is suffering, and then you die. What’s there to be thankful for?

Well-meaning friends and relatives will try to sabotage your efforts to be thankless. For example, while you’re in the middle of complaining about the project you procrastinated on at work to your spouse during an unhealthy dinner, he or she might try to remind you of how grateful you should be to have a job or food at all. Such attempts to encourage gratitude and cheerfulness are common and easily deflected. Simply point out that the things you should be grateful for aren’t perfect—which frees you to find as much fault with them as you like.

Exercise: Make a list of all the things you could be grateful for. Next to each item, write down why you aren’t. Imagine the worst. When you think of the future, imagine the worst possible scenario. It’s important to be prepared for and preemptively miserable about any possible disaster or tragedy. Think of the possibilities: terrorist attacks, natural disasters, fatal disease, horrible accidents, massive crop failures, your child not getting picked for the varsity softball team.

8. Always be alert and in a state of anxiety. Optimism about the future leads only to disappointment. Therefore, you have to do your best to believe that your marriage will flounder, your children won’t love you, your business will fail, and nothing good will ever work out for you.

Exercise: Do some research on what natural or manmade disasters could occur in your area, such as earthquakes, floods, nuclear plant leaks, rabies outbreaks. Focus on these things for at least an hour a day.

9. Blame your parents. Blaming your parents for your defects, shortcomings, and failures is among the most important steps you can take. After all, your parents made you who you are today; you had nothing to do with it. If you happen to have any good qualities or successes, don’t give your parents credit. Those are flukes.

Extend the blame to other people from your past: the second-grade teacher who yelled at you in the cafeteria, the boy who bullied you when you were 9, the college professor who gave you a D on your paper, your first boyfriend, even the hick town you grew up in—the possibilities are limitless. Blame is essential in the art of being miserable.

Exercise: Call one of your parents and tell her or him that you just remembered something horrible they did when you were a child, and make sure he or she understands how terrible it made you feel and that you’re still suffering from it.

10. Don’t enjoy life’s pleasures. Taking pleasure in things like food, wine, music, and beauty is for flighty, shallow people. Tell yourself that. If you inadvertently find yourself enjoying some flavor, song, or work of art, remind yourself immediately that these are transitory pleasures, which can’t compensate for the miserable state of the world. The same applies to nature. If you accidentally find yourself enjoying a beautiful view, a walk on the beach, or a stroll through a forest, stop! Remind yourself that the world is full of poverty, illness, and devastation. The beauty of nature is a deception.

Exercise: Once a week, engage in an activity that’s supposed to be enjoyable, but do so while thinking about how pointless it is. In other words, concentrate on removing all sense of pleasure from the pleasurable activity.

11. Ruminate. Spend a great deal of time focused on yourself. Worry constantly about the causes of your behavior, analyze your defects, and chew on your problems. This will help you foster a pessimistic view of your life. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by any positive experience or influence. The point is to ensure that even minor upsets and difficulties appear huge and portentous.

You can ruminate on the problems of others or the world, but make them about you. Your child is sick? Ruminate on what a burden it is for you to take time off from work to care for her. Your spouse is hurt by your behavior? Focus on how terrible it makes you feel when he points out how you make him feel. By ruminating not only on your own problems but also those of others, you’ll come across as a deep, sensitive thinker who holds the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Exercise: Sit in a comfortable chair and seek out negative feelings, like anger, depression, anxiety, boredom, whatever. Concentrate on these feelings for 15 minutes. During the rest of the day, keep them in the back of your mind, no matter what you’re doing.

12. Glorify or vilify the past. Glorifying the past is telling yourself how good, happy, fortunate, and worthwhile life was when you were a child, a young person, or a newly married person—and regretting how it’s all been downhill ever since. When you were young, for example, you were glamorous and danced the samba with handsome men on the beach at twilight; and now you’re in a so-so marriage to an insurance adjuster in Topeka. You should’ve married tall, dark Antonio. You should’ve invested in Microsoft when you had the chance. In short, focus on what you could’ve and should’ve done, instead of what you did. This will surely make you miserable.

Vilifying the past is easy, too. You were born in the wrong place at the wrong time, you never got what you needed, you felt you were discriminated against, you never got to go to summer camp. How can you possibly be happy when you had such a lousy background? It’s important to think that bad memories, serious mistakes, and traumatic events were much more influential in forming you and your future than good memories, successes, and happy events. Focus on bad times. Obsess about them. Treasure them. This will ensure that, no matter what’s happening in the present, you won’t be happy.

Exercise: Make a list of your most important bad memories and keep it where you can review it frequently. Once a week, tell someone about your horrible childhood or how much better your life was 20 years ago.

13. Find a romantic partner to reform. Make sure that you fall in love with someone with a major defect (cat hoarder, gambler, alcoholic, womanizer, sociopath), and set out to reform him or her, regardless of whether he or she wants to be reformed. Believe firmly that you can reform this person, and ignore all evidence to the contrary.

Exercise: Go to online dating sites and see how many bad choices you can find in one afternoon. Make efforts to meet these people. It’s good if the dating site charges a lot of money, since this means you’ll be emotionally starved and poor.

14. Be critical. Make sure to have an endless list of dislikes and voice them often, whether or not your opinion is solicited. For example, don’t hesitate to say, “That’s what you chose to wear this morning?” or “Why is your voice so shrill?” If someone is eating eggs, tell them you don’t like eggs. Your negativity can be applied to almost anything.

It helps if the things you criticize are well liked by most people so that your dislike of them sets you apart. Disliking traffic and mosquitos isn’t creative enough: everyone knows what it’s like to find these things annoying, and they won’t pay much attention if you find them annoying, too. But disliking the new movie that all your friends are praising? You’ll find plenty of opportunities to counter your friends’ glowing reviews with your contrarian opinion.

Exercise: Make a list of 20 things you dislike and see how many times you can insert them into a conversation over the course of the day. For best results, dislike things you’ve never given yourself a chance to like.

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I’ve just listed 14 ways to make yourself miserable. You don’t have to nail every one of them, but even if you succeed with just four or five, make sure to berate yourself regularly for not enacting the entire list. If you find yourself in a therapist’s office—because someone who’s still clinging to their love for you has tricked you into going—make sure your misery seems organic. If the therapist enlightens you in any way or teaches you mind-body techniques to quiet your anxious mind, make sure to co-opt the conversation and talk about your misery-filled dreams from the night before. If the therapist is skilled in dream analysis, quickly start complaining about the cost of therapy itself. If the therapist uses your complaints as a launching pad to discuss transference issues, accuse him or her of having countertransference issues. Ultimately, the therapist is your enemy when trying to cultivate misery in your life. So get out as soon as possible. And if you happen upon a therapist who’ll sit quietly while you bring all 14 items on this list to life each week, call me. I’ll want to make an appointment, too.

Cloe Madanes is a world-renowned innovator and teacher of family and brief therapy and one of the originators of the strategic approach to family therapy. She has authored seven books that are classics in the field: Strategic Family Therapy; Behind the One-Way Mirror; Sex, Love, and Violence; The Secret Meaning of Money; The Violence of Men; The Therapist as Humanist, Social Activist, and Systemic Thinker; and Relationship Breakthrough. Contact:madanesinstitute@gmail.com.

READ MORE: 

 http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/14-habits-highly-miserable-people?page=0%2C0

10 Phrases Successful People Avoid (But Losers Use) A Guest Post by Bernard Marr

Winning and losing are about your frame of mind more than anything else. You can be a successful go-getter working in a mail room just as easily as you can be a loser CEO. By cultivating a winner’s mindset, you’ll set yourself up for greatest success.

Check out the list of phrases below and note any that pop up in your daily lexicon. Eliminating them from your speech will go a long way to eliminating the negative thoughts that go along with them and help you believe that you can succeed.

  1. That won’t work.
    How do you know it won’t work? Even if it’s something that’s been tried before that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t work this time. Shutting down ideas without trying them is definitely not the mark of a winner.
  2. I can’t do it.
    OK, negative Nancy, but guess what? If you can’t do it, chances are they’ll find someone else who can. Instead, approach this from the perspective of what you’ll need to accomplish the task. Do you need more training, more support, more supplies, more time?
  3. Impossible
    Things are rarely impossible, so be very careful throwing this word around. In my experience, it often indicates someone closed-minded who can’t see another person’s vision. Rather than declaring it impossible, open your mind to how it might be possible. Brainstorm. Look at the problem from different angles. Nothing amazing was ever created by declaring it impossible.
  4. That’s not fair.
    What are we, four-year-olds? Real life isn’t set up to always be fair, and if you find these words coming out of your mouth, you are almost certainly feeling mistreated.  Instead of playing the fair card, however, try looking for opportunities to improve the situation. And, understand that sometimes you’renever going to change a situation to make it fair — you might have to go out and create your own, more fair, situation yourself.
  5. It’s not my fault.
    It may very well not be your fault, but this phrase assumes that you’re laying the blame somewhere else. And nobody wins the blame game. Instead of focusing on blame, focus on solving the problem. How can you step in and make things right — even if you weren’t the one in the wrong?
  6. I might be able to…
    Might is another one of those words like try that set you up to fail. When people use words like this, it’s because they’re expecting not to be able to do whatever is being asked of them. Or, sometimes it’s used grudgingly. A client asks you to go above and beyond your original agreement, and to placate them, you say you “might” be able to add something. In either case, don’t hedge. Stand your ground and say what you mean.
  7. That’s not my job.
    One of the things managers loathe to hear. Sometimes, in order to help the team or move up the ladder, you need to step up and do things that might not ordinarily be in your job description. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of, but try to look at working outside your comfort zone as an opportunity for experience and growth.
  8. Need
    Need is a funny word.  You need food, water, and shelter. You don’t need that report on time, your team to come in for the weekend, or really anything else at work. You want it. Perhaps you even require it for things to function and flow properly. But do you need it?
  9. I think…
    Which sounds more powerful: I think, I believe, or I know?  I think can be wishy-washy. Leaders and other successful people are decisive. Go with what you know.
  10. I’ll try.
    Take a page from Yoda’s book of wisdom: Do, or do not. There is no try. People tend to use the word try when they want to leave themselves an out, because they consciously or subconsciously don’t believe they can or will accomplish the task.

Obviously, it is not black or white with any of these phrases and there are of course times when you would use them. The point I am trying to make here is more about the mindset and the words we use (as well as the way we say them) are a reflection of that.

These are my top 10, but what are yours? Leave your favorite “loser mindset” phrases in the comments below so that we can add to the list.

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Thank you for reading my post. I regularly write about performance management
as well as the mega-trend that is Big Data for LinkedIn and Forbes. If you would like to read my regular posts then please click ‘Follow‘ and feel free to also connect viaTwitterFacebook and The Advanced Performance Institute.

Here are some other recent posts I have written:

READ MORE: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/10-phrases-successful-people-avoid-losers-use-bernard-marr

The 9 Worst Mistakes You Can Ever Make at Work A Guest Post by Dr. Travis Bradberry

We’ve all heard of (or seen firsthand) people doing some pretty crazy things at work.

Truth is, you don’t have to throw a chair through a window or quit in the middle of a presentation to cause irreparable damage to your career.

No matter how talented you are or what you’ve accomplished, there are certain behaviors that instantly change the way people see you and forever cast you in a negative light.

The following list contains nine of the most notorious behaviors that you should avoid at all costs.

1. Backstabbing

The name says it all. Stabbing your colleagues in the back, intentionally or otherwise, is a huge source of strife in the workplace. One of the most frequent forms of backstabbing is going over someone’s head to solve a problem. People typically do this in an attempt to avoid conflict, but they end up creating even more conflict as soon as the victim feels the blade. Anytime you make someone look bad in the eyes of their colleagues, it feels like a stab in the back, regardless of your intentions.

2. Gossiping

People make themselves look terrible when they get carried away with gossiping about other people. Wallowing in talk of other people’s misdeeds or misfortunes may end up hurting their feelings if the gossip finds its way to them, but gossiping will make you look negative and spiteful every time, guaranteed.

3. Taking Credit for Someone Else’s Work

We’ve all experienced that stomach-dropping feeling that happens when you discover that someone has stolen your idea. Taking credit for someone else’s work­—no matter how small—creates the impression that you haven’t accomplished anything significant on your own. Stealing credit also shows that you have zero regard for your team and your working relationships.

4. Having an Emotional Hijacking

My company provides 360° feedback and executive coaching, and we come across far too many instances of people throwing things, screaming, making people cry, and other telltale signs of an emotional hijacking.

An emotional hijacking demonstrates low emotional intelligence, and it’s an easy way to get fired. As soon as you show that level of instability, people will question whether or not you’re trustworthy and capable of keeping it together when it counts.

Exploding at anyone, regardless of how much they might “deserve it,” turns a huge amount of negative attention your way. You’ll be labeled as unstable, unapproachable, and intimidating. Controlling your emotions keeps you in the driver’s seat. When you are able to control your emotions around someone who wrongs you, they end up looking bad instead of you.

5. Announcing That You Hate Your Job

The last thing anyone wants to hear at work is someone complaining about how much they hate their job. Doing so labels you as a negative person and brings down the morale of the group. Bosses are quick to catch on to naysayers who drag down morale, and they know that there are always enthusiastic replacements waiting just around the corner.

6. Bragging

When someone hits a home run and starts gloating as they run the bases, it’s safe to assume that they haven’t hit very many home runs. On the other hand, if they hit a home run and simply run the bases, it conveys a business-as-usual mentality, which is far more intimidating to the other team.

Accomplishing great things without bragging about them demonstrates the same strong mentality—it shows people that succeeding isn’t unusual to you.

7. Telling Lies

So many lies begin with good intentions—people want to protect themselves or someone else—but lies have a tendency to grow and spread until they’re discovered, and once everyone knows that you’ve lied, there’s no taking it back.

Getting caught up in a lie, no matter how small, is exhausting and hard on your self-esteem. You have to be authentic if you want to be happy with who you are.

8. Eating Smelly Food

Unless you happen to work on a ship, your colleagues are going to mind if you make the entire place smell like day-old fish. The general rule of thumb when it comes to food at work is, anything with an odor that might waft beyond the kitchen door should be left at home.

It might seem like a minor thing, but smelly food is inconsiderate and distracting—and so easily avoidable. When something that creates discomfort for other people is so easily avoided, it tends to build resentment quickly. Your pungent lunch tells everyone that you just don’t care about them, even when you do.

9. Burning Bridges

So much of work revolves around the people you meet and the connections you make. Dropping an atomic bomb on any professional relationship is a major mistake.

One of TalentSmart’s clients is a large chain of coffee shops. They have a relatively high turnover, so when a barista quits, it isn’t usually taken personally. One barista, however, managed to burn every single bridge she had in a single day. The surprising thing is that she didn’t yell or do anything extreme; all she did was leave.

Without warning, she showed up to her Monday shift, told the store manager she was quitting (she had found a better-paying job somewhere else), and walked out. The result, of course, was that every shift that she was scheduled to work for the next two weeks had to be done with one less person, as she provided no time to find a replacement.

She most likely saw her actions as being offensive only to the manager (whom she didn’t like), but in reality, she created two miserable weeks for everyone who worked at the shop. She ruined her otherwise positive connections, with every single one of her colleagues.

Bringing It All Together

These behaviors sound extreme and highly inconsiderate, but they have a tendency to sneak up on you. A gentle reminder is a great way to avoid them completely.

What other behaviors should I add to this list? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

Be sure to check out my new post: 12 Habits of Exceptionally Likeable People

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book,Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, andThe Harvard Business Review.

READ MORE: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/top-9-things-you-should-never-do-work-dr-travis-bradberry

Three Essential Elements Of A Winning Mindset Guest Post by Bruce Kasanoff

I love to tell others about Carol Dweck’s superb book, Mindset, in which she explains that people with a growth mindset tend to outperform those with a fixed mindset. That is, if you think your abilities are fixed, you won’t do as well as people who believe that with enough effort, they can expand their capabilities.

Dweck’s work is so powerful because it demonstrates that one fundamental shift in mindset can change the path of your career and life. This shift is easy to understand, easy to communicate and – for many people – relatively easy to accomplish, once they understand the potential benefits.

A few weeks ago, I heard University of Pennsylvania Associate Professor Angela Duckworth on NPR’s TED Talk program. Duckworth studies grit, which she defines as “the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals.”

Duckworth’s research has demonstrated that grit predicts success in a number of endeavors. For clarity’s sake, I have eliminated Duckworth’s scholarly references from the following text from her site:

Grit predicts surviving the arduous first summer of training at West Point and reaching the final rounds of the National Spelling Bee, retention in the U.S. Special Forces, retention and performance among novice teachers and sales agents, and graduation from Chicago public high schools, over and beyond domain-relevant talent measures such as IQ, SAT or standardized achievement test scores, and physical fitness.

Listening to Duckworth speak, a light bulb lit up in my head. What if you used grit to pursue the long-term goal of never stop growing?

In other words, you would be combining two of the most powerful predictors of success, and turning both in your favor. Grit, like growth, is not fixed. I found this passage in Duckworth’s research statement:

It is now well-established that traits change across the life course (Roberts & Mroczek, 2008). So, while there is enough stability to traits to sensibly describe one individual as grittier than another, it is also true that children and adults change their habitual patterns of interacting with the world as they accumulate additional life experience.

Duckworth explains further:

Individuals who believe that frustration and confusion mean they should quit what they are doing may be taught that these emotions are common during the learning process. Likewise, individuals who believe that mistakes are to be avoided at all costs may be taught that the most effective form of practice (deliberate practice – see research by Anders Ericsson ) entails tackling challenges beyond one’s current skill level.

Growth + Grit =Lifelong success

Growth + Grit is already a powerful recipe for a stellar career, but while I am citing insightful author/professors, let me throw in one more “G” for you to consider. Adam Grant, also at UPenn, pointed out in Give and Take that some of the most successful professionals in the world have a giving mindset; they are primarily focused on the needs of others.

winning mindsetGrowth + Grit + Giving = Change the world

I don’t have the research to prove it, but my gut says that the people who radically change our world for the better combine all three of these traits. They build schools, attack poverty, and lead companies with a sense of purpose.

The most exciting part of these three traits is that they all are within your grasp. You can decide to adopt them. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, a genius or of “average” intelligence. If you set your mind to embrace this formula, you will change what you are capable of accomplishing. More importantly, you will change what others are capable of accomplishing.

An earlier version of this article appeared on LinkedIn.

Bruce Kasanoff is a ghostwriter and speaker.

READ MORE: http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucekasanoff/2015/04/07/three-essential-elements-of-a-winning-mindset/2/

9 Overlooked Leadership Qualities A Guest Post by Paul LaRue

The University of Oregon’s Holden Leadership Center, which is established to build leadership qualities, particularly those of their students, comprised a list of leadership characteristics that they aim to cultivate in the student body.

In reading over this list, it struck me of the many qualities that were listed that are not easily measurable. Skills such as being a good communicator, respectful, and having quiet confidence, while being great traits in every leader, are difficult to measure and are often overlooked.

We have a tendency in looking to our leaders, whether those that have influence in our lives or ones we help develop along the way, to overlook many qualities in search for some of the more hard leadership skills, such as technical or industry-specific knowledge and financial acumen. We do, however, acknowledge the more important soft skills that are coveted in leadership – communication, credibility, aligned values. But what about other leadership qualities that we may overlook; qualities that are important but possibly eclipsed in searching or developing other traits that we may feel are more essential.

The below list of qualities are listed merely to generate thinking beyond our routine process and look deeper into those hidden leadership characteristics:

Kinesthetic – This is the energy, even physical activity, of the leader. A leader with a high kinesthetic is generally a person of boundless physical energy, always on the move, not sedentary. Leaders with this quality set an infectious pace by the speed in which they go, and are great having the ability to connect with people that are in various physical locations across the company.

Ability to Instill Hope – Over at Lead Change Group, I wrote a post entitled “Is Hope A Leadership Trait?“. In it, the ability to instill hope is a quality that the best leaders possess. Leaders are visionaries, and casting a huge vision that engulfs their people and creates the hope, the possibility, that the goal can be accomplished is a solid core leadership tenet.

Willingness – An effective leader is a willing individual. Willing to do the mundane, support their people, make a stand for what is right versus what is popular. Willing to admit they don’t know it all, and continuously pursue their growth. For further thoughts, see this post on Willingness – THE Key To Growth.

Connected-ness – This is the leader’s ability to bring people and teams of varied skills, talents, and philosophies together towards a common vision. It’s an ability to bring people together to forge meaningful alliances and stronger networks. It also how the leader can bring their professional relationships into play to enhance and influence everyone else’s world.

Proactive – This one seems to get overlooked more than we would expect. Many organizations highly revere a leader’s ability to accomplish goals, but how many are truly proactive in their roles? There are numbers of leaders who work best under a ticking clock, “clutch hitters” if you will, and prefer to work that way. but a proactive trait will allow time for more thoroughness and working ahead of the curve to place other initiatives into action. A proactive person is a leader who uses time and resources wisely for the organization.

Sincerity – A sincere leader is one whose motives and agendas are pure, clear, and not hidden. This is simply an attitude of meaning what they say and making good on their commitments.

Discerning – A discerning leader is one who processes all information carefully. He or she do not take one side of a problem, or the side that cries out more loudly. They pause, reflect, then make wise decisions after asking questions, finding the truth, and eliminating emotions, urgency, and bias. For some other thoughts on this, seeJon Mertz’s recent post over at Lead Change Group. His thoughts on using impatience to breathe and discern gives leaders some basic strategies to get this fading skill back into every leaders’ repertoire.

Resourceful – in Holden Center’s list, but an overlooked quality at large. We ask leaders to use more with less – especially with time, people, and finances – but a resourceful leader will make the most out of fractured team dynamics, remote locations, and unclear goals and missions to create opportunities for others that benefit the organization.

Studious – The saying “Leaders are readers”, while somewhat cliche, is true. But a studious leader is a learner in every aspect of life. Through observation, and in application, they look for object lessons and methods to improve their company, their people and themselves. Like a professional baseball pitcher who studies other batters, or a scientist who makes detailed observations in both controlled and non-controlled environs in a variety of theorems, a studious leader learns from the world around them to make the world around them better.

I must impart a word of caution here. The list of leadership qualities, on the whole, is extremely exhaustive and no two organizations, let alone two people, will agree completely on what are the best or essential traits. Leadership qualities are always a subject of some great conversations, and if not careful we can fall into the same habits and miss opportunities to grow leaders that have some otherwise desirable traits.

READ MORE: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/9-overlooked-leadership-qualities-paul-larue

15 Body Language Blunders Successful People Never Make A Guest Post by Travis Bradbury

Our bodies have a language of their own, and their words aren’t always kind. Your body language has likely become an integral part of who you are, to the point where you might not even think about it.

If that’s the case, it’s time to start, because you could be sabotaging your career.

TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90% of top performers, to be exact). These people know the power that unspoken signals have in communication and they monitor their own body language accordingly.

What follows are the 15 most common body language blunders that people make, and emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid.

1. Slouching is a sign of disrespect. It communicates that you’re bored and have no desire to be where you are. You would never tell your boss, “I don’t understand why I have to listen to you,” but if you slouch, you don’t have to—your body says it for you, loud and clear.

The brain is hardwired to equate power with the amount of space people take up. Standing up straight with your shoulders back is a power position. It maximizes the amount of space you fill. Slouching, on the other hand, is the result of collapsing your form—it takes up less space and projects less power.

Maintaining good posture commands respect and promotes engagement from both ends of the conversation.

2. Exaggerated gestures can imply that you’re stretching the truth. Aim for small, controlled gestures to indicate leadership and confidence, and open gestures—like spreading your arms apart or showing the palms of your hands—to communicate that you have nothing to hide.

3. Watching the clock while talking to someone is a clear sign of disrespect, impatience, and inflated ego. It sends the message that you have better things to do than talk to the person you’re with, and that you’re anxious to leave them.

4. Turning yourself away from others, or not leaning into your conversation, portrays that you are unengaged, uninterested, uncomfortable, and perhaps even distrustful of the person speaking.

Try leaning in towards the person who is speaking and tilt your head slightly as you listen to them speak. This shows the person speaking that they have your complete focus and attention.

5. Crossed arms—and crossed legs, to some degree—are physical barriers that suggest you’re not open to what the other person is saying. Even if you’re smiling or engaged in a pleasant conversation, the other person may get a nagging sense that you’re shutting him or her out.

Even if folding your arms feels comfortable, resist the urge to do so if you want people to see you as open-minded and interested in what they have to say.

6. Inconsistency between your words and your facial expression causes people to sense that something isn’t right and they begin to suspect that you’re trying to deceive them, even if they don’t know exactly why or how.

For example, a nervous smile while rejecting an offer during a negotiation won’t help you get what you want; it will just make the other person feel uneasy about working with you because they’ll assume that you’re up to something.

7. Exaggerated nodding signals anxiety about approval. People may perceive your heavy nods as an attempt to show you agree with or understand something that you actually don’t.

8. Fidgeting with or fixing your hair signals that you’re anxious, over-energized, self-conscious, and distracted. People will perceive you as overly concerned with your physical appearance and not concerned enough with your career.

9. Avoiding eye contact makes it look like you have something to hide, and that arouses suspicion. Lack of eye contact can also indicate a lack of confidence and interest, which you never want to communicate in a business setting.

Looking downas you talk makes it seem like you lack confidence or are self-conscious, causing your words to lose their effect. It’s especially important to keep your eyes level if you’re making complicated or important points.

Sustained eye contact, on the other hand, communicates confidence, leadership, strength, and intelligence. While it is possible to be engaged without direct, constant eye contact, complete negligence will clearly have negative effects on your professional relationships.

10. Eye contact that’s too intense may be perceived as aggressive, or an attempt to dominate. On average, Americans hold eye contact for seven to ten seconds, longer when we’re listening than when we’re talking. The way we break contact sends a message, too. Glancing down communicates submission, while looking to the side projects confidence.

11. Rolling your eyes is a fail-proof way to communicate lack of respect. Fortunately, while it may be a habit, it’s voluntary. You can control it, and it’s worth the effort.

12. Scowling or having a generally unhappy expression sends the message that you’re upset by those around you, even if they have nothing to do with your mood. Scowls turn people away, as they feel judged.

Smiling, however, suggests that you’re open, trustworthy, confident, and friendly. MRI studies have shown that the human brain responds favorably to a person who’s smiling, and this leaves a lasting positive impression.

13. Weak handshakes signal that you lack authority and confidence, while a handshake that is too strong could be perceived as an aggressive attempt at domination, which is just as bad. Adapt your handshake to each person and situation, but make sure it’s always firm.

14. Clenched fists, much like crossed arms and legs, can signal that you’re not open to other people’s points. It can also make you look argumentative and defensive, which will make people nervous about interacting with you.

15. Getting too close. If you stand too close to someone (nearer than one and a half feet), it signals that you have no respect for or understanding of personal space. This will make people very uncomfortable when they’re around you.

Bringing It All Together

Avoiding these body language blunders will help you form stronger relationships, both professionally and personally.

READ MORE: http://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2015/03/12/15-body-language-blunders-successful-people-never-make/3/

SOMETHING FROM THE HEART – NATIONAL CAREGIVER DAY: April 5, 2015 A Guest Post by Donna Thomson

SOMETHING FROM THE HEART

You won’t receive any cards or cakes for National Caregiver Day.  You won’t be handed a box of chocolates or a new diamond ring either.  If you did, you would have made it or bought it and wrapped it yourself.

That’s the thing about caregiving, it’s for someone else, usually someone we love.  And that’s because caregivers learn, over time, how to derive deep satisfaction from a smile, a meal eaten by our loved one, washed hair, calmed anxieties and memories shared.  We don’t need gifts of chocolates or diamond jewellery to understand how our loving acts are needed and appreciated (although we’d never turn down those earthly gifts, of course!).

National Caregiving Day is an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of our caring lives and to thank ourselves, not for being perfect, but for being the best caregivers we know how to be.  National Caregiving Day is a chance to celebrate the nobility in our daily lives.  Because weare noble – more noble than bankers, clerks, lawyers, sales reps, even teachers and police officers.  Ours is the most noble work and all those working professionals know that theirmost noble work happens at home, with family.  Caregiving is the core of what is most meaningful in life – our most intimate relations with those we love who are vulnerable and need our care.  Caregiving teaches us all life’s most important lessons.  Eventually, after years of giving care, we become wise elders.

This weekend, if you celebrate Easter or Passover, please take a moment to reflect on the meaning of our shared caregiving experience.  Take time to weave your story into the stories of religious texts or your family history.  Because National Caregiver Day is important.  Once a year, it’s worth celebrating the most important role we will ever play – caring for those we love.

READ MORE: http://www.donnathomson.com/2015/04/something-from-heart-national-caregiver.html