The #1 Reason You Are Not as Successful as You Should Be
March 28, 2016

The #1 Reason You Are Not as Successful as You Should Be

by Brian de Haaff

We all dreamed of becoming successful grown-ups when we were kids. Right? I wanted to save people from burning buildings or maybe play first base for the Dodgers. In our minds, nothing could hold us back from being truly great.

Just as we were building towering skyscrapers out of blocks and pondering our possible futures, we were also learning important lessons like hard work, perseverance, and respect — that would help lay the groundwork for our success.

But nobody settles into their career without a mishap or two along the way, and some travel a much rougher road to truly get going. We could all stand to improve in certain areas, to be sure.

But there is one lesson in particular that can hold a person back from career success if they fail to master it: Accepting responsibility.

Kids who have trouble with this might conjure up excuses, point fingers at others, or just shrug and say “I dunno.” Adults might say: “There is no way we could have seen this problem coming!” But it is really the same thing, different day.

If taking responsibility for your actions is a challenge for you, maybe no one ever held you accountable or you learned to fear failure or rejection from others. It is easy to do and understandable to want to avoid disappointing others. But whatever those reasons may be, do not let them stop you from being as successful as you should be right now.

Until you start accepting responsibility, you will not:

Be genuine As long as you keep on dreaming up elaborate excuses to duck out of responsibility, you are not being honest with yourself or anyone else — and they know it. This results in deep self-denial and shallow relationships with others, who learn to be skeptical of your creative explanations and grow tired of your lack of transparency.

Keep growing Becoming responsible is a critical milestone for anyone to reach. But you may be stuck in a negative cycle that holds you back from learning from your mistakes and building up your confidence. Dodging responsibility may keep you feeling safe, but it also keeps you small and limits your potential.

Gain strength You may be trapped in the false thinking that you are helpless and that circumstances are always beyond your control. This lie keeps you from stepping out and accepting new challenges when they come along, and gaining strength from those experiences, whether they are positive or negative.

Earn trust You really want others to trust you, and you often say, “Trust me!” But trust is carefully built over time and with consistency of action. Before you can ever hope to win anyone’s trust, they must first witness you taking ownership of your actions and keeping your word at all times, no matter the personal cost to you.

Lead others While you may have a position of leadership, you will not be able to lead others effectively if your actions do not line up with your words. Your team will not be inspired to follow you if they cannot depend on you to stand up for them or take the fall if necessary. And you wind up shortchanging them as well as yourself.

No matter your age, it takes maturity and courage to say “mea culpa.”

So, if accepting responsibility is something that you need to work on, accept the challenge. Start being entirely truthful with yourself and others. Take on your fears and own up to your mistakes. As your own self-respect begins to grow, others will begin to see there is much more to you than they ever realized.

If you can do that, you can jumpstart the process of becoming that person you always dreamed of becoming.

What else have you seen hold people back from success?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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