Smart and Still Failing? It Might Be…

The only time you don’t fail is the last time you try anything – and it works.

William Strong

This article is the second part to similar article I wrote which can be found here.

It is also an expansion of this list which I found over at

Now, where were we?  I believe we had hit number five on the list, which brings us to six.

6. Lack of Product Orientation

It may seem a little redundant for me to say this in such a list, but this is a common mistake people (*cough* such as myself *cough*) make.  The list makes it sound like it only has to do with people who are running their own business, but it can be true about anything.  If you read the description it mentions focusing too much on the process and not enough on the results.

This is essentially what I’m talking about when I’m going on about setting goals.  That might be a little confusing because I often preach that you need to figure out exactly what steps you need to take in order to achieve your goals, but this warning is a little different than that.  It’s still important to know where you’re going and what you’re going to have to do realistically before you start to do it.

But it can be just as easy to get caught up in this process of figuring out what you’re going to do and never doing it.  Getting caught up in the process is a great way of procrastinating.  You need to always stay focused on your goal and always be moving towards it, even if those movements are small.  Never lose sight of why you have the process in the first place and you should have no problem avoiding this pitfall.

7. Inability to Complete Tasks

As the list itself states, fear is often a big component here, as is procrastination.  If you can’t complete what you set out to do, it’s a little more than difficult to become successful.

Sometimes this is actually the inverse to the problem above.  Sometimes you’re so focused on your goals that you fail to look at what tasks need to be completed, when they need to be completed and more importantly, you fail at actually completing them.  What’s required for success is attention to both the fine details and small tasks that need to be achieved in order to bring you closer to your goal, while always keeping that final goal in mind as well.

It’s a rather delicate balance, and as such both of these topics are equally a threat to your success.  Try to keep both in mind when you are working towards your dreams.

8. Failure to Initiate

This is yet another product of fear and procrastination which feature rather extensively on this list.  See the articles on fear and procrastination listed above for more details.

This one is not so much a problem with the details or the goals but the whole thing.  Often you lay out a goal so monumental in scope that it frightens you to the point of complete and utter inaction.  You might talk about your goal and desire your goal but you don’t actually do anything in terms of moving towards it.

This could also apply to the little steps in between that you need to take care of.  This one is also a fairly simple fix in that once you realize you’re procrastinating, all you need to do is start small and get moving.  So long as you’re doing something to move you towards your goals this won’t be a problem.

9. Fear of Failure

See: Fear is Prohibitive to Life: How to Move Past it

10. Procrastination

See: Stop Procrastinating

11. Misattribution of Blame

As the original source states, this can be a problem of either always blaming yourself for problems that occur or always blaming others.  Both are potentially extremely problematic.

If you always blame yourself for what happens to you, you hold the potential for ignoring the actual problem causers and thus ignoring what needs to be fixed.  While it’s true that you are responsible for an awful lot of what happens involving your goals and involving the work that you do, there are things that are simply beyond your control.  And when those things go wrong, if you blame yourself you are not only causing undue stress you’re failing to address the real issue.

The same problem lies in blaming others for your own mistakes.  Again, by misplacing that blame you are missing what is truly causing the problem and thus lack the tools in order to fix it.  Identifying the real problem is an enormous step towards finding a solution.

On top of that, blaming others for a mistake you made is social suicide.  In order to be successful in any kind of business, your people skills need to be top notch.  When you start blaming others for mistakes that you’re making, they’re going to recognize what you’re doing and stop associating with you.  Be it a business partner or an employee, the result is always negative.

12. Excessive self-pity

In my opinion this one is more a symptom of other things like fear and procrastination than it is a problem in its own right.  While pitying yourself instead of getting on with life can definitely hold you back, it’s usually caused by being afraid to continue due to failure or wanting to procrastinate…  which is really just another representation of your fear.

So if you find that this is a problem for you, try investigating what exactly you’re afraid of and how to overcome it.

13. Excessive Dependency

This one is pretty straight forward.  Relying on others to do your work for you is a sure path towards failure.  There’s this saying that goes: ‘No one can do your push-ups for you.’  The same is true of success.  No one can make your business.  No one can write your book.  No one can get your degree for you.  These are things you have to do for yourself, because if you don’t they aren’t worth anything to you.

You are the most important resource when it comes to accomplishing your dreams.  Always keep that in mind.

14. Wallowing in personal difficulties

This actually applies not only for difficulties, but for successes as well.  You don’t want to become too distracted with all the drama life provides, otherwise you tend to let your passions and goals slip by the wayside.  I’m not saying you need to cut those out completely, because then life would scarcely be worth living.  But it’s important to have moderation and always remember what you want in life.

This is also closely tied in with number 12, for obvious reasons.

15. Distractibility or lack of concentration

Most people just assume that concentration is a genetic trait, and that you’re either great at concentrating or you’re not.  That’s not true.  Concentration, just like anything else in life, is a practiced skill.  And you’ve either practiced it a lot and are great at concentrating, or you barely practice it at all (Which applies to a lot of us in this day and age.) and you’re not very good at concentrating.

There’s a whole article on how to improve your concentration here if this applies to you.

The last of the list goes up on Friday, so be sure to check back then!

The conclusion to this list has already been posted.  You can find it here.

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