The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective People

Based on what I wrote yesterday (, you might find this useful.

Stephen Covey taught us the habits of highly effective people. We learned them, we applied them, and we benefitted greatly from them. David Allen taught us how to get things done. We learned the techniques and our productivity increased dramatically.

But not everyone made gains. There are many people, in fact about 90%, who are still struggling with getting things done. And the reason is that their own habits prevent them from doing what it takes to achieve their goals. Theirs are the 7 habits of highly ineffective people!

How do highly ineffective people pursue their goals?

1. They doubt they have what it takes

Highly ineffective people are tormented by self-doubt. They lack confidence. They are never sure that they have what it takes to be successful. They confuse lack of experience with lack of ability. They see challenges as threats, and hear feedback as criticism. They prefer the familiar to the unknown, and the security of not trying to the risk of failing. Until one day they stop looking for opportunities altogether.

2. They wait too long to get started.

Highly ineffective people procrastinate a lot. And the longer they wait to get something done, the higher the chances that it will never get done.  They perceive time as endless and forgiving, without realising that time—unlike money—is the only resource that when you lose it, you cannot recover it. Those who are able to meet deadlines, even at the last minutes, develop a false sense of confidence that they can get thing done. They don’t understand, however, that getting things done is very different from getting things done well.

3. They lose their patience faster.

Highly ineffective people don’t like to wait too long. They are fans of quick results. Get rich quick. Get thin quick. Get smart quick…And they get disappointed “quick” when they don’t get results fast. They are constantly looking for shortcuts.  Which highway lane is the fastest? Which grocery store line is the shortest?  Which bank teller is the quickest? They are constantly fighting the clock, trying to get things done fast rather than well. But by trading quality for speed, they eventually spend more time fixing errors than making progress.

4. They multitask shamelessly.

Highly ineffective people are unable to focus on one thing at a time. They put too much on their plate and they try to eat it all at once. They will be talking to you, while texting someone else. They will be listening in on a conference call, while building their to-do list for the week. Their idea of making plans is to overbook themselves solid. At the end of the day they feel physically and mentally exhausted, but without much to show for.

5. They want change without having to change.

Highly ineffective people welcome change but they don’t embrace it. They desperately want a change in their life, but resist doing what it takes to change it. They object to new ideas and oppose new practices. They avoid learning new techniques or applying new technologies. And they are blind to different points of view. They are persistent, but they become stubborn. Eventually, they cross they line between persevering and perseverating. They probably invented the phrase: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!”

6. They strive for perfection.

Highly ineffective people work hard, but they waste their efforts on details—details that no one else cares about—and miss the main point. They are more interested in coming up with the “perfect” idea than coming up with a useful idea. They are more invested in creating a flawless product than learning what to do to improve their product. They care more about avoiding making mistakes than learning from them and growing. As a result, their goal pursuit becomes a wild goose chase.

7. They complain a lot.

Highly ineffective people have a very pessimistic view in life. They spend more time and energy complaining about what is wrong with the world, blaming others for it, and feeling sorry for themselves, instead of focusing on finding ways to make things better. They like to make mountains out of molehills. And they also like to believe that they have no responsibility whatsoever for the state of their own lives.

This is how highly ineffective people pursue their goals. These are the actions they take. These are their brainblocks (link is external). And that’s why they struggle to get the results they want.


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