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by James Waldroop Ph.D.
and Timothy Butler Ph.D.

Directors of MBA Career Development at the Harvard Business School. Twenty years relevant experience. Business Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Executive Coaches to many Fortune 500 companies, helping individuals work to their highest level of potential.

Ch. 7: The Home Run Hitter?

FAILURE BEHAVIOR 7: ALWAYS SWINGING FOR THE FENCE. Overconfident, overeager and overreaching, you want it all, and you want it now. Small accomplishments are not enough for you. You expect - demand - extraordinary and immediate success. You want either a stand-out job or to go it alone. Learning about the industry first is for others. An unrealistic dream-chaser, you want instant gratification, you always go for broke - and often go broke.

In general, business doesn't rely on an occasional big win but rather on steady, reliable, predictable, sustainable growth.

IDENTIFY IT: See your many frequent-failure miles. You take on projects far beyond your ability. You're looking for a big success in a hurry. It's a compulsion. Many do this right from the get-go, others take a huge, disastrous swing-and-a-miss in middle age.

FIX IT: Driven by unhealthy cultural forces that expect you to achieve, to succeed and make money fast, by an economy that makes it possible to do so or by your own Oedipal complex - the desire to supplant your father or by your narcissistic need for reassurance, you feel compelled to go for it. Your remedy is to stop trying, stop doing, stop swinging, don't go to the plate. It's difficult for you to develop patience. Yours is largely a psychological problem.

As your manager, I point out to you where you've overreached, that I occasionally use you as an example of how not to get ahead - as someone that will fail if you do not change, that steady career development takes time and that you are already succeeding in some of what you're doing. You need to see what you have done, not what you haven't.

BENEFIT: You are not short on ambition. If you can slow down you will go a long way. When you swing more intelligently, you will make contact. You may even hit a few out of the park. You can become a  higher performance person.

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Ch. 8: The 'No-Risk' Naysayer

FAILURE BEHAVIOR 8: WHEN FEAR IS IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT. Your default response is 'No.' You are terrified of risk and change, persistently negative, always worried. You see your glass as half-empty. Afraid of making a mistake, you avoid anything that might cause you shame or embarrassment. So, no changes for you, business as usual only. You are the pessimist queen of the status quo.

IDENTIFY IT: For you the negative always outweighs the positive. You will never consider the consequences of not changing and your incessant worrying is infectious. Your toxic gloom and doom destroys innovation and creativity. And you hire your own kind, dowsing for yet more downers.

FIX IT: You, and your ilk, excel at quality control, proofreading, software testing, as airplane mechanics and whenever the job focus is on making sure nothing will go wrong.

But if you are to lead you must take risks. Business is constantly changing, doing things better and less expensively. If a business does not make those changes it will soon be out of business. Yet you fear change. If you are to successfully make essential changes in the business, you must first change yourself. Difficult. To do it you must see the positives in change, the opportunities it brings, as well as the negatives. And compare that to the dangers of doing nothing. As a matter of habit - developing a habit so strong it overcomes your own obdurate, failure behavior - until your fear of your own fears is greater than your fear of change.

BENEFIT: You are competent, highly experienced, know your business and you're here. If you change yourself, you can become a higher performance person.

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