With a world of advice on how to improve our working lives at our fingertips, it may seem ironic that the most simple things can often derail our productivity and our happiness--both as an employee, and as a leader. And, in fact, most of the things I've discovered people struggle with at work, actually have very little to do with the work itself. Instead, I've found, most of our pitfalls are due to issues with relationships, and/or issues with perception.

As a leader, or as an employee, here are ten things you need to stop doing if you want to achieve both success and happiness at work.     

1. Stop waiting for permission. 

Sometimes the most well-behaved employees aren't always the best at creating results. People who bring their all to work, and understand that their job is to create value rather than just meet expectations, create the biggest impact. Don't wait for permission to offer your full potential.

2. Don't let anyone steal your thunder. 

I'm not talking about people taking credit for your work. I'm talking about not allowing people to crush your inner passion. You showed up to your job with the belief that you could make a huge impact. And sadly, many people might find your belief threatening. Don't let their insecurity crumble your belief.  

3. Don't forget difficult people. Be gracious. 

I can't tell you how often people ask for advice on how to deal with a difficult person--whether it's an employee, a coworker, or their boss. Sure, difficult people are frustrating. But be gracious, because these are the people who are teaching you the most about how to be better leader, or how to be a better coworker. Learn from difficult people. Never forget the lessons they teach you. 

4. Don't entertain toxicity. 

Difficult people aren't necessarily toxic people. In our personal lives and in our work lives it's important to separate ourselves from people who have histories of burning bridges, creating enemies, or acting in ways that you find unethical. Toxicity, by definition, means poisonous or the ability to poison. Don't let yourself or your reputation get stung.   

5. Stop over-promising. Start over-delivering. 

While I'm a believer in the concept of 'Do what you say you're going to do.' I'm a raving fan of the concept, 'Do more than you ever said you would do.' Whether you are dealing with team members, vendors, or customers, stop talking about the work product you can deliver, and just start delivering--go above, beyond, and further than they could have ever imagined.  

6. Stop assuming perfection is the destination. 

The problem with trying to be perfect is not just the fact that it's unattainable, it's limiting. Never assume there isn't room to improve. Never assume you're finished tweaking, honing, testing, and growing. 

7. Don't dwell on problems. 

Like difficult people, problems, issues, and hurdles are little goldmines to your success. Why? Think about the greatest inventions. They solve problems. Instead of dwelling on problems, seek them because they expose huge opportunities. 

8. Stop taking everything at work so seriously. 

Each and every day we all have the opportunity to change the world around us. And as simple as it may sound, that might include putting a smile on someone's face who might need it. Plus, a sense of humor might be good for your career. A survey by Robert Half International found that 79 percent of CFO's believe a sense of humor is important for cultural fit. Why did the chicken get promoted? Because he didn't take everything so darn seriously.  

9. Stop being agreeable. But always be kind. 

While being agreeable might get you hired, a  survey of more than 25,000 participants by Truity revealed it may put you at a disadvantage for getting a raise or being promoted. I talk to leaders all the time who say they wish their employees would voice their opinions more often. They want pushback. Disagreeing with a strategy or plan doesn't mean you're being argumentative, as long as your intentions are for the good of the organization, and you remember to always be kind.

10. Don't ever believe you got here on your own. 

You've accomplished a lot. But, for a second, think back on you life and career to the people who recognized your unique talents and abilities. Think about the people who inspired you to believe you could become who you are today. It's important to always remember to appreciate the voices from the past, and recognize the people around us on daily basis who help us do what we do.

An endless stream of advice rests at your fingertips--things you should start doing to become more successful and happy at work. But, maybe it's easier if we focused first on the things we should stop doing, because these might be the roadblocks that are holding you back.  

Published on: Jun 21, 2018