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7 Ways Underachievers Can Be Powerfully Successful

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Being tied to failure, inability, inefficiency, or underachievement can be crippling. While most underachievement’s are situational, it is very easy to take it personal and interpret these labels as a claim to your identity. Don’t do it!

Anyone who has underachieved or has been accused of underachieving has experienced a level of emotional defeat. Your success is not tied to your circumstantial performance. Your success is directly correlated to your ability to persevere, overcome, and spin previous underachievement into your future success.

I’ve learned from coaching hundreds of millennials that underachieving qualities can also be overachieving traits for success. Millennials continually are given, wrongfully or justly, the label of underachiever. As I tell all my millennials, plus everyone else I coach struggling with underachievement, “So what? Your previous underachievement does not dictate your future overachieving success. Use it!”

Powerfully successful people like Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Tony Robbins, and more have once been given the underachieving label in school, in a job, in business, in relationships, or in life. However, none of these individuals got stuck on their underachievement, but rather leveraged their underachievement toward their success. Just like these powerfully successful individuals, your struggles can be the reasons for your success.

Here are 7 ways labeled underachievers can be powerfully successful:

1. Forget Other’s Dreams

Your inability to get excited about other people’s dreams, especially your boss’ can be a big career killer. Spin it though. You are waiting for a dream worth joining or starting yourself. This underachievement trait tells me you have the desire to discover a dream worth living for. Go find it and join it or start it.

2. Keep Daydreaming

Daydreaming is an escape into our default network. Your “default network” can increase your creativity, attention, memory, and happiness if you use it correctly. However, avoid daydreaming at the wrong times.

When you need to focus, pay attention. Then when you have the freedom to exercise your mental state, use daydreaming to propel you into powerful success by daydreaming about real people and possible future successes in business, health, and relationships.

“Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.” – Bo Bennett

3. Stoke the Rebellious Fire

If your rebellion centers around pushing the limitations in your life, rebel. While you might have been labeled as self-centered in your rebellious state, discover why you rebel. If you are rebelling for selfish purposes, then find a purpose outside of your personal gains.

Your rebellion needs to be focused against the limitations holding you back from serving other people or elevating your future success that helps people and this world. Use rebellion to your advantage.

4. Challenge Management

You may not like management, but do not be disrespectful of management. Many overachieving successful people get frustrated at management because it seems to hold back further growth.

Management is key to keeping order in the current situation and this is important, but it doesn’t mean you have to like it. You just need to respect it. Wildly successful people will challenge management and you can too in order to keep progressing forward, just stay respectful in the process.

5. Keep Talking

Of course you can’t stop talking. You have something to say and want to share it with the world. You just need to know what to tell the world. Forget talking about meaningless subjects and promote to talking about matters that will make a difference in the world.

Powerfully successful individuals that talk too much have learned to discipline their jawing mouth to meaningful topics for progress.

6. Always Be Skeptical of Intention

Use your questioning to push others into success. Do not be a devil’s advocate without a reason. Questioning intention can be very powerful to advance your journey into success. Many other successful people are looking for people to help find errors or weaknesses in plans, strategies, or projects.

You might find your success in collaboration with another powerfully successful individual by asking great thought-provoking questions. These type of questions push ideas, concepts, plans, and strategies into success often.

“Asking high quality questions produces a high quality life.” – Tony Robbins 

7. Ignore the Rules

This may be the most common underachieving trait that leads to your outrageously successful future. Your rebelling, questioning, and disobeying compliance to the rules can push you into the fringes where only a few people are daring to go.

Success tends to exist in the margins in life—where few dare to take the risk. Do not only ignore the rules, but the limitations, boundaries, excuses, and impossibilities. Use your ignorance towards rules as your greatest success ingredient to your future progression.

Bust through your underachievement into your powerfully successful life. Stop listening to others who believe you will never succeed and have labeled you an underachiever. Reverse your underachievement by recognizing the powerful success traits sitting behind your inefficiencies. Your success is hiding behind your faults.

How have you used underachievement to your advantage? Please leave your thoughts below!

As The Millennial Skills Coach and creator of 5-Tool Pro, Jared Buckley helps businesses improve employee production, motivation, and retention of millennials through skills coaching and training. As a former sports coach and business owner, he’s coached and employed millennials for the past 10+ years. He knows millennials and what it takes to produce game-changing millennials. His writing can also be found in places as Huffington Post, Lifehack, The Good Men Project, plus others. Or you can find his book Career OnRamp on Amazon.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Joel

    Feb 3, 2017 at 2:43 am

    Jared,

    How about #8, “Don’t believe your natural talent will take you through life”?

    I have found when coaching, training, and mentoring unachievers, a common trait is that they let their natural talent carry them, thus leading to a life of average. Because they are naturally gifted, they don’t seem to want to push themselves further, nor do they seem to need to.

    Perhaps, instead see it as a hindrance and not a gift.

    Thoughts?

  2. Matt

    Jan 29, 2017 at 1:11 am

    Overall great article… Applies to me in some aspects of my life. And, frustratingly so, applies to my son in many aspects of his life. I do however, have some feedback.

    Point 5 seems like the odd man out in this list. Disciplined and opportunistic talking/discussion is a great trait for anyone, regardless of their success in life. I know some successful people that are just talkers, while I know underachievers that are not. My point is is that prudent talking applies to anyone.

    The final point (#7 Ignore the Rules), seems to contradict point number 4 (Challenge Management) in part. I’m not sure “Your rebelling, questioning, and disobeying compliance to the rules” is in keeping with “…just need to respect it. Wildly successful people will challenge management and you can too in order to keep progressing forward, just stay respectful in the process.” I think I understand your purpose in #7, but perhaps different wording is in store. I do know a couple of people that rocked the boat one too many times and were shown the door. I suppose as long as you’re willing swim and have a shore to go to, then rocking the boat is a calculated risk. 🙂

    Thanks again!

    • Jared Buckley

      Jan 31, 2017 at 8:01 pm

      Matt thank you for the feedback. I can see your points here. What I wanted to do is explore all possibilities why people might be underachievers and how those can be turned into positive traits for success. In essence, some of these tips can be contradicting to a point.

      I truly do appreciate the feedback though.

      jb

  3. Scott Barlow

    Jan 25, 2017 at 8:10 am

    I was branded as an underachiever in school by both classmates and teachers. And guess what – they were wrong — I was actually a failure in disguise and they thought by saying that I had “potential” that it would motivate me to succeed.

    Not only did it do the opposite, I am in my 40s, live at home with my parents which have kicked me out of their house at least once because I couldn’t get a job. Eventually I had to realize that I was not destined for great things and took a retail job where my boss was half my age and I was the oldest person there. Was it embarrassing? Absolutely? Was it depressing? For sure. Will I ever get to escape it? Definitely NOT.

    If you are a millennial let me give you some advice – if someone tells you that you are have potential, are an underachiever or anything like that, tell them “Don’t lie to me – I know you think I am a failure – please don’t sugar coat it” and move on. Once you accept the fact that you aren’t going to be successful — heck, you aren’t going to even be adequate, but a dismal utter failure, then and only then will you be able to live your life.

    Sorry – but it’s true… take it from someone who knows the truth.

  4. Ewen Munro

    Jan 14, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    Great list, Jared! And some amazing points. 😉 #keepgrowing #keepcreating

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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