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The Top 7 Mistakes Professionals Make While On Paid Employment

April 19, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 132

The banking, telecoms and oil & gas sectors don't owe. You'll even be pampered, with the quarterly profit share, variable, and ''13th month'' pay. On top of that, perks abound: chauffeur driven car, free health care, company-subsidized meals. By age 35, if you're the really smart type you'd have earned the ultimate prize, a corner office, and a home in one of the islands. Before long you'd be a regular guest in some of the top business schools rubbing shoulders with the best and the brightest. Life can be fun when you plug cash from the conveyor belt monthly.

You know what plugging of cash from the conveyor belt does? It makes you begin to think that you're invincible. You begin to think you're the smartest guy in town. You begin to think you're indeed successful. The former mates you've left behind will call you a ''go-getter'' and will even dub you the yardstick for measuring success amongst your peers. As success should beget more success, you set yourself ever tougher goals, and focus single-mindedly in achieving and surpassing them all. Amongst your peers, juniors and superiors, you're known and described as dependable, sharp, and focused. The executive team entrust you mission critical projects knowing you can be relied upon. You're in your game.

Being in your game may inexorably translate into one of these top seven mistakes:

1. You equate success only with material possessions

In this mode, you're acquisitive. To you nothing matters if it doesn't have the feel of cash you can immediately translate into ''toys''. You want to own the biggest house in the swankest neighborhood. You start to compare yourself to self-made millionaires and think you should own what they own. Your kids attend the best boarding schools money can buy while you maintain a ''decent'' guest house worthy of your exalted position in the most expensive neighborhood of Paris. Despite the huge take home pay over the years you were still living in your employer's rented executive mansion until the very day the conveyor belt stopped bringing you cash.

2. You cannot distinguish knowledge from wisdom

Take the case of the one-time Managing Director of one of Nigeria's defunct commercial banks, which ran aground in the early nineties. Lacking in wisdom, and amidst the protestation from the bank's chairman, the MD promoted himself to Executive Vice Chairman, effectively rendering the chairman redundant. The chairman of course resigned and within a few months, with no checks and balances in place, the bank went belly up. The MD was immediately thrown into prison by the then military junta. The man died recently. Time in prison must have cut his lifespan by at least 10 years. Perhaps a little wisdom would have saved his bank, honor and life.

3. Your world revolves only around your industry

When the Titanic sank, inside it was only a telegraph. That was the only means of communicating with the outside world. Today it's GSM. In the 80s, we talked about the banking industry, today its financial services. Restaurants are being smothered by fast foods despite health concerns. Early computers were as big as cupboards and containers. We called them mainframes. Today some fit into our palm. We call them palm top. Will your industry exist tomorrow? What about your company? You have no transferrable skills, and have never reflected on the innate talents you may have. You consider every other industry and branch of knowledge as too shallow for a serious minded person like you. If you reflect on the fact that ancient scientist ''documented'' mathematically that the Earth was flat, you may wish to rethink making your world revolve around only your industry.

4. You have a shallow network

You are the most knowledgeable person in your industry, and outside it you know nothing and no one knows you. Early in your career, you were identified as a ''hi-pot'' with fast track career movement so naturally you don't believe in anything except your superior firing power. You disdain networks. Birds of the same feather flock together as the saying goes, so your best friends are in your industry. You hardly attend clubs, even when you have platinum membership paid for by your company. You have long forgotten the name of your church's pastor and the choir master. You're just too busy for those distractions, you say. Sooner than later, you will come to know that your net-worth will be determined by the size of your networks.

5. You consider yourself indispensable

You're the go-to guy in your unit or division. Any colleague of yours who cannot complete his assignment can always get a listening ear from you. After all, it was not for nothing that you are regarded by both friends and foes alike as dependable. Years back, in one of the largest Newsprint Manufacturing Companies in southern Nigeria there was a general manager who arrogated to himself three departments. He would not brook the idea of ''ceding power'' by appointing general managers to take charge of the other two departments. One day as everybody predicted, the company asked him to go, and he mobilized the natives to protest the management's ungratefulness for relieving him of his empire ''after all he did for the company.''

The best thing you can do for your company is to groom your successors.

6. You're impatient for success

When you're impatient for success, you become obsessed with the word success. You want to ''make it'' at any cost. You cut corners. You compromise here and there. The end justifies the means you rationalize. You firmly believe that success is a destination and you must get there faster than anyone else. Your friends seeing your ''stellar success'' start calling you a whiz kid and you start to believe them. You change jobs every 18 months because you've set yourself a goal of hitting the C-Suite before age 35. You're on the roll and then it dawns on you that you don't really ''have it''. There is a nugget of wisdom in the parable of the ''hare and the tortoise.'' Easy does it.

7. You assume you know it all

You graduated Cum Laude. You were your class's valedictorian. You've been to the best business schools in the world. Within a few short years of joining your company, you were declared the front runner to succeed the founding CEO. You were not just the front runner, as a matter of fact, you were anointed three years before the due date by no other than the incumbent. What happens is that when you know it all you don't accept anybody's advice and you take no prisoners. You insist on your way. You crush anything and anyone that stands on the way in your bid to take your unit, division or the company to the ''next level.'' Anyone that voices a counter opinion to yours is just envious. You make it clear to everybody you'll not tolerate any dissension, and anyone who does not understand the direction of the ''new wind blowing in the company'' should just resign. You make sure you alienate everybody to confirm you know it all. Beware the world is too complex and no one knows it all, and no one expects you to know it all.

These top 7 mistakes professionals make may sound outlandish and hypothetical but they are not. They have resulted in the disgrace and demise of some of the most powerful CEOs and the catastrophic collapse of their once admired companies. Search carefully, you may find these traits in you, your peer or boss. You may even find them in the general manager of the company across the road. Be aware of them and work diligently to minimize their grip on you and you'll have a successful and enjoyable career, and you'll leave a legacy worthy of emulation.

Paul Uduk is the Chief Executive Officer of Vision & Talent International, Nigeria's leading customer service learning and performance consultancy. He has published and consulted actively in the areas of service quality and design, and teaches in these areas locally and internationally, including for the UNDP. His best selling books include Bridges to the Customer's Heart ( and The Gods of Quality Strike Back. Prior to setting up the Vision & Talent Group, he was a banker with one of Nigeria's top 10 banks. His current research interest is on forces that engender corporate enthusiasm, agility, and the will to prevail through service excellence. Reach Paul on or

Source: EzineArticles
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