A Personal “Stop Doing” List – Part I

For many years now, I have used the days heading up to the end of the year to take what an old mentor of mine used to call, “taking personal stock.”

As part of this exercise, as I learned it from him, you take the your list of strengths and determine if you need to “feed” any of them and then take your list of weaknesses and determine how you are going to improve them, minimize them and/or surround yourself with people who are good at those things to round you out.  Some of these aren’t so easy.  Hard to farm out “could be a better husband and father” as it turns out 🙂

This also leads to a long running “it’s funny because it’s true joke” of mine which is …

‘Doesn’t suffer fools’ spent many years on my weaknesses list until I decided to move it to the strengths side

OK, back on track … so this year I was thinking I would do it a little different and focus on my “Stop Doing” list.  The first time I heard someone talk specifically about such a list was Jim Collins (of Built to Last and Good to Great fame). He asked the audience at a conference who had a “To Do” list.  Of course, most people have such a list in some format.  Then he asked who had a “Stop Doing” list.  Not a lot of hands went up.  And a really powerful statement without saying much else.

Combining my remembering the Jim Collins talk with that fact that, as a new-again entrepreneur, I have been following Inc. on Twitter and they had a great article this week titled, Be Happier: 10 Things to Stop Doing Right Now: Sometimes the route to happiness depends more on what you don’t do by Jeff Haden.  This is a great list, so to keep myself honest going into a Better Me in 2014, I thought I would share how I’m doing against this list and give my opinion on how to get better (for what it is worth).

So here goes:

(1) Blaming.

How I Do – I hope I’m pretty good in this regard.  In fact, I am very sensitive to this one.  When people start in on blaming others for their problems, I really struggle to relate.  Maybe I find this easy because I know I mess up so much on my own, it would be a long way down the list before it could be someone else’s fault.

My Advice – If you catch yourself blaming anyone or anything for your current situation, I strongly suggest you either find a way to live with it or – if it is so truly bad that you can’t control it – change your situation.  This could be anything from the weather to your boss to the local government to your partner.  Seriously, think about it.  How could someone or something else be at fault?  You’re a human being.  You are in control of your own circumstances.

(2) Impressing

How I Do – Wow!  I wonder if it is possible to be so good at some of these that you can be bad on the other side?  I think I have likely worn “screw them, they will like and respect me if they see me as capable” badge a little too much maybe.  Dressing however I felt.  Foul language.  I mean, I certainly like that I am always “me” in every situation, but maybe I could learn to be a little less “me” at times?  Nah, unlikely at this point.

My Advice – Be yourself.  Dress how you feel comfortable.  Speak from your heart.  Treat people the way you feel they should be treated based on them being human beings not based on their job title.  “Dress for success” just isn’t a thing in very many industries anymore.  The point is, what impresses people the most are people who look comfortable in their own skin.

(3) Clinging

How I Do – I also think I am pretty safe here.  If anything, I might suffer from the same fate as in the last bullet.  I am definitely from the “If It Ain’t Broke, Break It” School of Change.  And clinging to people is even worse that clinging to ideas, processes and systems.

My Advice – Remember that if we all clung to the status quo, we would be rubbing sticks together for warmth and sleeping in caves.  Seriously though – who do you look up to the most in life?  I am guessing that amongst many other things, they are agents of change.

(4) Interrupting

How I Do – In case you thought I saw myself as nothing but coming up with stars on this list, what is worse than “fail”?  Man, do I interrupt a lot.  In fact, I’m so bad, I often interrupt myself.  Interrupting is usually a result of not listening to the other person.  In my case, I like to think that I already know what they are going to say and I am just so exuberant to add to their point that I can’t help myself.  OK, unlikely.  More important, irrelevant.  I have to stop making people feel like I don’t care about their point of view.  I think this is at the top of my list of things to do better in 2014.

My Advice – Ralph Nichols said, “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” ’nuff said.

(5) Whining

How I Do – I hope well.  In my opinion this might be the most unattractive of all human traits.  I mean this in all contexts.  “Ah boss, I haven’t had a raise in 2 years and everyone else I know has”; “Suzie got the last three interesting projects and I am not getting any, what makes her better than me?”; “Honey, we haven’t been intimate in days and I am feeling like you don’t care about me, can we please …”

My Advice – First, do what I do.  If you catch yourself whining, go overboard to yourself.  Use the best “spoiled brat” voice you know and repeat what you are saying to hear how ridiculous it sounds.  As for when others come to you whining, do them a favour and do NOT tell them it is OK.  You don’t have to be an insensitive ass, but empowering this behaviour is not doing anyone any favours!

OK, I will end this post here.  Part II will look at Controlling, Criticizing (I’m dreading this one), Preaching, Dwelling, and Fearing.

’til next time.  Kirk out.

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