Winning Rituals: 10 Behaviors of Successful Individuals

Have you ever noticed that people who constantly talk about how successful they are really aren’t all that great? And how meanwhile, people who enjoy a lot of success simply keep their heads down and get to work? If you have, you’re not alone. There’s a good reason for this, too: successful people are usually too busy being successful to brag about how successful they are.

Successful people also tend to have rituals or routines that they follow — simple processes that get them through their day and help them be more efficient and productive. If you find yourself stagnant in your career yet wishing for greatness, maybe it’s time to switch up your routines. Here are ten to try.


1. Start your day in a calm way. How many times have you left yourself just enough time to shower and get dressed before rushing out the door to make it to work on time? It only takes one time to know that this isn’t a great start to the day. Instead of making your morning a losing game of Beat the Clock, give yourself time to begin the day properly. Not only will this keep your stress levels lower (especially before you get to the office), but it helps to set the tone for a more thoughtful and productive day. Give yourself a routine that’s calming. You might use the time for a quick bit of exercise of meditation, or you might take the first 30 minutes after you wake up to tack out the rest of your day, or you could use it to catch up on emails from the day before. Whatever you do, try to do it consistently to get the day started off right.

2. Stop thinking and start doing. A lot of people confuse thinking with actual working. Yes, planning is important, but successful people roll up their sleeves and get started on that big project. And if you’re waiting for the inspiration to take hold of you, well, we can find some wisdom in the words of two great artists. Pablo Picasso famously said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” And, perhaps more bluntly, Chuck Close asserted, “Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.” Bottom line? Start working!

3. Find inspiration in adversity. Have you heard the joke about what happens when you play a country music song backwards? The guy gets his dog, truck, and woman back. Sure, it’s funny, but there’s a bigger message here: without all of those difficult situations, the songwriter would never have been inspired to write such a song in the first place. Successful people have their share of obstacles and heartbreak, but they’re able to take those emotions and turn them into creativity, motivation, and excellence. Rather than wallowing in depression whenever you’re faced with pain and strife, channel your feelings into something productive.

4. Find a mentor . Most successful individuals realize that they have a lot to learn from others who have come before them. They take it upon themselves to find someone who is wise and who has been there — someone who’s walked the same path and learned a lot along the way. Having a mentor keeps you from making preventable mistakes and provides you with valuable insight that can only come from years of experience. Find an individual who can mentor you in your field, and then meet regularly to learn bits of wisdom and discuss your progress.

5. Go beyond your comfort zone. This is really where growth happens, and without growth, there is minimal opportunity for success. Yes, of course it’s easiest to keep doing what you’ve been doing without trying anything new, but unless you really challenge yourself, you’ll never know what you’re capable of. No pain, no gain, right?

6. Trust your gut. Intuition, instinct, hunches, sixth sense — call this primitive feeling what you will, but heed its guidance. Yes, your decisions should be well informed, and yes, you shouldn’t close your eyes and blindly choose a direction, but you also shouldn’t go along with the crowd if you know, deep down inside, that the crowd is wrong.

7. Write down your thoughts and reflections. Time may move in one direction, but you can still learn a great deal from your past. Take some time each week (or more frequently, if you’re so inclined) to do some journaling. Write down important events and transactions, note what went well and what didn’t, and keep track of your goals, both big and small. After some time has passed, read through what you wrote a month ago, six months ago, a year ago, and more. Not only will it give you some helpful perspective, but it will create a sort of map of your professional life.

8. Take constructive criticism to heart. It’s easy to balk at or dismiss negative comments, but if there’s some buzz about your work and it’s not all good, perhaps it’s wise to step back and ask yourself why. Similarly, it may be smart to ask for feedback from individuals whose opinions you respect. When we see ourselves through the eyes of others, we are better able to make improvements.

9. Stay positive and humble. A good attitude can go very far in today’s business world. When you’re an upbeat, positive person, you attract people; after all, who doesn’t want to work with someone like that? Humility, however, is also essential; in a world filled with big egos and unchecked arrogance, humble people are refreshing. Think about the ideal type of person you’d like to work, and then make every effort to become that ideal.

10. Remember why you’re doing this. Or better yet, give yourself visual reminders of why your success is so important. Whether it’s a photo of your mentor to remind you of your potential, a letter from a loved one to remind you of your real worth, or a picture your child drew for you to remind you who you’re doing it all for, keep your reminder close, visible, and within reach every day.

We all want to be successful in work and in life, but not everyone’s routines are conducive to success. Are yours? Or are the actions that are so ingrained in your day-to-day activity holding you back from greatness? You can talk about your desire to do big things all you want, but at the end of the day, you’ve just got to do them. See if you can implement one, a few, or all of these rituals into your own life. You may really like the results.


Dealing With Toxic People: 7 Strategies

Toxic People

by Mark Jenney

They lie. They gossip. They complain. They’re manipulative. They’re a swirling hurricane of negativity, and they always seem to be heading in your direction, threatening to knock you down and pull you into their storm. Unfortunately, toxic people  are are in every workplace, and even if they don’t know it, their poor attitude and difficult behavior can be a real drain on workplace productivity, morale, and success.

Dealing with toxic people is more than an inconvenience — it’s a source of stress that can burn you out and keep you from getting ahead. However, like any other difficult situation, toxic people can be managed in several ways, all of which can keep you from losing your edge and your motivation. Here are seven strategies for handling the toxic people in your life.

1. Keep your distance, both emotionally and physically. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be cordial or civil to the toxic people with whom you work, but you should definitely set some physical boundaries and limit the time you spend with them. When you pass them in the corridor, it’s absolutely right to say hello and smile. However, draw the line at unnecessary contact, like going out for a casual lunch or meeting up after work. You’ve got other plans that don’t involve their poor attitude.

2. Realize that true happiness comes from within. The thing about toxic people is that they pick targets. If you work with a negative and toxic person, sooner or later, they’ll set their sights on you. However, this person’s trash talking shouldn’t affect your happiness or sense of self worth. Yes, we all need to listen to criticism to evolve into better versions of ourselves, but there’s a difference between constructive criticism and flat out negativity. You might be worried about what other co-workers think after hearing this, but just remember that you’re probably not the only one who’s tired of this toxic person’s complaining.

3. Keep your internal monologue positive. It may seem a little silly to walk around telling yourself that you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you, but you know what? Those are all positive and true things. You may not want to phrase it in such a namby-pamby way, but keep the thoughts in your head — especially those pertaining to you — positive. This will put you in the right frame of mind to deal with anyone, toxic or otherwise.

4. Don’t just lend an ear — lend a solution. Toxic people tend to complain — a lot. But nothing good comes from complaining; it only leads to stress, negativity, and more complaining. You can listen a little (even toxic people deserve the opportunity to vent once in a while), but after a few minutes, try to steer things in a more positive direction. Ask how the situation can be made better or how the problem can be solved. Doing so creates a more productive conversation, cuts off much of the complaining, and perhaps shows the toxic person that you’re not going to let their bad attitude ruin your day.

5. Prevent your emotions from taking over. Look: toxic people are annoying. However, fuming at them, telling them off, or showing your frustration can make you seem toxic too. Similarly, getting your emotions dragged into their vortex of anger distracts you from the good things in your own life. Instead, do your best to remain calm and level headed. Not only will it keep you on the right track, but it may even inspire the toxic individuals around you to make an attitude adjustment .

6. Take care of yourself physically. The sound body-sound mind connection is a strong one, so be sure to eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise on a regular basis. Good nutrition keeps you from feeling sick and worn down, a good night’s sleep allows your brain to recharge and keeps you sharp, and physical activity is a good, cathartic way to blow off steam and feel refreshed and relaxed.

7. Surround yourself with good people. Your choice isn’t being around a toxic person or being alone. You can choose to spend time with upbeat, positive people who seek solutions rather than dwell on problems and see opportunities where others see inconveniences. You’ll be happier in the long run, and you might even set an example for the toxic people in your life and convince them to change their ways.

It’s not easy to work with a toxic person, especially on a daily basis. However, their poor attitude doesn’t have to affect your good one, and their toxicity does not have to be a permanent condition. By keeping your emotions under control, keeping your paths from crossing too much, and staying positive about yourself, you can keep from joining in on their complaining and victimhood. And who knows? Perhaps your approach may be an inspiration for the toxic people in your life to change their ways.

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9 Things to Do Instead of Complain

Stop Complaining - Mark Jenney

by Mark Jenney

Complaining is perhaps the most useless thing that we as humans do. It’s entirely unproductive, it’s potentially harmful, and it never makes anything better. Plus, when we complain, we tend to compound our negativity. As the revered motivator Zig Ziglar was fond of saying, “The more you complain about your problems, the more problems you will have to complain about.”

It’s easy to talk about not complaining, but it’s much harder to do. After all, if we shouldn’t complain, what should we do? We’ve got to replace that negative behavior with a positive one. The next time life forces you into a difficult situation, here are nine things to do instead of complain.

1. Say something nice. When you complain about something, especially as a way to initiate a conversation, you immediately cast negativity on everyone within earshot. Instead of bringing everyone down, raise them up by saying something positive. It can be a specific comment about someone’s work performance, a personal observation about something good, or just a remark about what great weather we’re having. Unlike lodging a complaint, saying something nice will make people smile, not stress.

2. Instead of focusing on the problem, focus on the opportunity. A problem is only a problem if you don’t have a solution. A problem with a solution, however, is a huge opportunity for growth, success, and greatness. Find the solution.

 See: Do More Work Less by Mark Jenney

3. See the world from someone else’s point of view. You may find yourself frustrated with the performance of a co-worker, for example, and as a result, you may be tempted to complain about this individual. Instead, try to understand what that person has been going through lately, and try to understand the source of the behavior rather than judge what you see. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and suddenly, you’ll find that you have a lot less to complain about.

4. If it’s out of your control, let it go. There’s no use in complaining about something if you truly can’t do anything about it.

5. Spend time inside your own mind. Whether it’s a guided meditation, solemn prayer, or quiet reflection, take some time each day to be alone with your thoughts. Not only can doing this help reduce stress and keep you focused, but activities that are introspective in nature can help make you more conscious of your actions and help you rethink some of your less successful behaviors.

6. Behave as you wish others to behave. It’s Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative  in a nutshell, and it applies so perfectly to people who complain. If you find yourself wasting energy on this worthless activity, ask yourself: would you want everyone to complain about something, just as you’re complaining right now? No? Then stop.

7. Be grateful. Just because you’ve resolved to not complain doesn’t mean that there isn’t something you could complain about. It simply means that you’re committed to acknowledging the good and not frittering away your energy on the bad. Count your blessings , and you’ll realize how lucky you are and how good your life really is.

8. Accept and embrace change. It is, after all, inevitable. Resistance to change leads to a lot of ongoing complaining.

9. Really need to vent? Do it to a trusted person who is at least a few steps removed from the matter at hand. It may not do you any good to complain about work to a coworker. For starters, he or she may complain right along with you instead of simply lending you a sympathetic ear. And more than that, anything negative you say about anyone else in the office could easily get around on the grapevine. Instead, talk to a friend who isn’t involved, talk to a therapist or counselor, or talk to a family member. Venting is good from time to time, though you want to be able to maintain a modicum of discretion.

In a world where many people find it easier to have a lengthy bitch session than actually work to implement solutions to problems, it can be tough to stop complaining. However, once you make a conscious decision to quell the negativity in your life, you’d be surprised at how quickly you turn those useless sour comments into positive and productive ones. Like complaining, being positive can not only become a habit , but it can become an inspiration to others. Stop complaining. Start living.

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