In a world full of incredibly successful people–the Zuckerbergs, the Gates’, the Jobs’–it can sometimes be hard to remember that we all have shortcomings. Yes, even the super successful have things that they struggle with. Human beings are all flawed.
What Makes The Successful Different From Everyone Else?
This is a question I recently asked myself. What separates me from being more successful in my life and career? What can I do to accomplish more of my goals?
I quickly realized that the most successful people aren’t better than everyone else, per se. They’re not smarter, they’re not more creative, and they’re not luckier.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that anyone could do what they’ve done. Just that they’ve got one characteristic that separates them from other ambitious, creative individuals who aren’t as successful as they could or should be.
They Recognize Their Shortcomings
This is what separates the super successful smart people from the smart people who aren’t as successful.
We’re conditioned to believe that if we’re smart, we have no flaws. We have no excuse to not accomplish all of our goals. If we don’t accomplish our goals and achieve success, then we must not be very smart.
Here’s the thing: all of us have at least one thing we’re good at. Even if we’re told that we don’t and that’s why we’re not achieving more in our lives.
It’s important to continue to nurture what we’re good at while also working on what we’re not so good at.
That means recognizing our shortcomings.
Seek Out What You’re Not Good At
For years, I’ve struggled with time and task management. I’ve been late to things. I’ve missed or just narrowly met due dates. In college, I left papers til the last minute. I often lost track of time. Keeping a day to day schedule was a massive struggle.
As an adult, I finally realized that this was a flaw of mine. That despite my creativity and overall success, it was keeping me from reaching my full potential. I wasn’t getting as much done as I wanted to.
Recently I decided to figure out why I had this flaw and how I could correct it.
Determine Your Shortcomings And How To Overcome It
My why ended up being ADHD. For years I had no idea that this was the source of my time and task management woes. I thought it was just something inherent in me, something that I could not do anything about, so I might as well just focus on what I’m good at. Needless to say, my diagnosis surprised me.
My how to correct it ended up being a combination of medication, new habits, and a conscious effort to be better. The thing with ADHD is that medication is not a cure. Medication is merely a tool that, when combined with others, can help you to correct your flaws (or symptoms).
For me, that meant taking a light dose of a stimulant, evaluating all of my shortcomings, and taking action to correct them.
My shortcomings can best be summarized as:
- Not listening attentively.
- Forgetting things I am told (because of not listening attentively).
- Not having a clear idea of what’s due and when it’s due.
- Not properly managing my time.
- Not following through on items that require more thought/patience.
- Buying stuff to compensate for my productivity issues (like new gadgets….seriously).
- Multitasking too much (a tendency of ADHD people who are constantly switching from thought to thought).
To overcome these shortcomings, I’ve taken the following action:
- Began taking a stimulant (a light dose).
- Force myself to listen attentively when others are talking to me and note down what they’re saying, mentally. This is usually quickly added to a note on my computer or smartphone so that I can reference it later.
- Employed the use of a to-do app (TickTick) to input work items and their due date. I now look at TickTick first thing everyday to see what I need to accomplish.
- Setup reminders to tell me when items are due and to remind me of appointments, things to be done around the house, bills to be paid etc.
- Create lists when shopping, rather than trying to remember everything I need. I sit down for 5 minutes and simply write down what I need. This gets it off my brain and onto paper (or a digital document, in this case 😉 ). Then I reference the list when I go shopping and check things off it.
- Focusing on one task at a time, rather than multiple ones. This is admittedly one of the toughest things for me as I’ve been multitasking for as long as I can remember. Still, I make a conscious effort to do just one thing at a time.
- Use timers to keep track of time spent during tasks or to keep me from forgetting to do something. My Pebble smartwatch is perfect for this as it vibrates to let me know when the timer is up.
- Taking a calming breath when feeling overwhelmed with something. If that does not work, I’ll take a step back before I come back to the issue. In doing so, I usually gain a new perspective of the issue and a renewed sense of being able to handle it.
- Seriously question every single non-essential purchase I make. Do I really need this new computer? This new phone? This new app? Why am I purchasing it? Is there another, cheaper (or free!) way to accomplish the same thing?
I won’t lie and say I’ve excelled at all of the above, but I do pretty well with each. I get way more done at work, I feel less stressed, I spend less money on stuff I don’t really need, I keep better track of time, and I ultimately feel better.
2016 is exciting me because I am finally getting things done. I am finally accomplishing things I’ve wanted to for a while. I have a lot of things planned and with my new found acknowledgement of my shortcomings and conscious effort to overcome these, I’m confident that I’ll be able to accomplish anything I want to.
So What Are Your Shortcomings? And How Will You Overcome Them?
Take a few minutes today to write out what your shortcomings are. Then, think about how to overcome them. Follow through on your solutions. In time, your shortcomings will be overcome and you will be more successful.