Success isn’t usually the path of least resistance; it takes a lot of hard work to get somewhere in this world. Likewise, it isn’t that easy to screw things up for yourself, either. You’ve really got to work at it. And some people – particularly overachievers, for some reason – do exactly that. They truly are their own worst enemy.
I should know. I’ve been there. I’ve shot myself in the foot more times than I care to remember. But I don’t sweat that for three reasons.
First, nobody’s perfect. It won’t do you any good to beat yourself up. Second, if you’re not screwing up, you’re not taking enough risks. Third, as long as you’re willing to take a good hard look in the mirror and deal with what you see, you’ll probably work things out just fine.
In other words, it’s okay to create problems for yourself once in a while, as long as you learn from it and quit doing it.
Along those lines, here are some of the most common ways that people like you and me make our lives harder than they have to be and create bad Karma that comes back to haunt us. Left unchecked, this sort of bad behavior can and often will keep you from achieving your potential.
Letting jealousy govern your actions. Envy and resentment drive all sorts of bad behavior. They can eat you up inside. The most self-destructive aspect is letting what others are doing, what they own, how much they make, keep you from focusing on the only thing you can control: you, your goals and your actions.
Getting too social on social networks. Like it or not, what you post on Facebook and Twitter represents you. The same is true of everything you blog, comment, email, text and Tweet. With the possible exception of SnapChat, the internet is forever, like a bad tattoo you can never get rid of. Don’t write or post anything you wouldn’t want future potential customers and employers to see.
Lying and living in denial. Yes, I know, people lie. I get that. But there’s a big difference between calling in sick to spend a day with your family and completely fabricating a degree on your resume, like former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson did. Even worse, after getting caught he continued to lie to shareholders, employees, and his board of directors.
Acting out in anger. Talk about self-destructive behavior. While those in charge sometimes bully or micromanage when they’re in over their heads, few survive that sort of chronic behavior, especially when they don’t have the talent to back it up. Don’t forget, even Steve Jobs lost his job at Apple once over his toxic management style.
Doing the wrong things to get ahead. Cutting corners, sabotaging coworkers, telling bosses what they want to hear instead having the courage to tell the truth – there’s a long list of bad behavior people mistakenly employ, ostensibly to get ahead. And once they start down that slippery slope, look out below.
Not paying your bills. Not only is this the height of unprofessional and unethical behavior, you can almost use it as a compass that points to good and bad companies and people. I have a deadbeat client right now: a big company that’s making a big mistake. Pay your bills. All of them. On time. Period.
Thinking business is about you. Companies exist to make competitive products to win customers. The world’s most powerful brands have products that speak for themselves. That’s what business is about. If, for some reason, you think you’re a product, that’s fine, but customers don’t care about you or your personal brand – they care about what you can do for them. Let your actions speak for themselves.
Behaving like an entitled brat. Children are the most entitled people on earth. Naturally, their very survival depends on getting adults to do things for them. But as you mature, you’re supposed to realize the world doesn’t revolve around you. Sadly, some people never grow up. They think they’re entitled to what they want and they whine incessantly when they don’t get it. In a word, those people are simply unemployable.
The truth is, what goes around comes around. I’m not sure what happens in the afterlife, but I know that’s what happens in this life. Don’t just believe me. Believe the words of two immortal men:
John Lennon: “Instant Karma’s gonna get you; gonna knock you right on the head.”
Steve Jobs, on getting fired from Apple: “It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick.”
Consider yourself hit in the head. Don’t let bad behavior destroy your career … or your life.