Connect with us

Success Advice

7 Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre People

Published

on

Habits of Effective Mediocre People

The following article is by a highly interesting author by the name of James Altucher, who outlines the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre People. With a plethora of great points and amazing lessons to learn, read on my friends and you’ll see why it may not be so bad after all to consider yourself as “Mediocre“.

The following is an excerpt from Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream by James Altucher,  founder of  StockPickr,  and writer for TechCrunch, HuffPo, and Forbes.

 

 

 

7 Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre People

 

I’m pretty mediocre. I’m not even being sarcastic or self-deprecating. I’ve never done anything that stands out as, “Woah! This guy made it into outer space! Or…this guy has a bestselling novel! Or…if only Google had thought of this!” I’ve had some successes and some failures but never reached any of the goals I had initially set. Always slipped off along the way, off the yellow brick road, into the wilderness.

I’ve started a bunch of companies. Sold some. Failed at most. I’ve invested in a bunch of startups. Sold some. Failed at some, and the jury is still sequestered on a few others. I’ve written some books, most of which I no longer like. I can tell you overall, though, everything I have done has been distinguished by its mediocrity, its lack of a grand vision, and any success I’ve had can be just as much put in the luck basket as the effort basket.

That said, all people should be so lucky. We can’t all be grand visionaries. We can’t all be Picassos. We want to make our business, make our art, sell it, make some money, raise a family, and try to be happy. My feeling, based on my own experience, is that aiming for grandiosity is the fastest route to failure. For every Mark Zuckerberg there are 1000 Jack Zuckermans. Who is Jack Zuckerman? I have no idea. That’s my point. If you are Jack Zuckerman and are reading this, I apologize. You aimed for the stars and missed. Your re-entry into the atmosphere involved a broken heat shield and you burned to a crisp by the time you hit the ocean. Now we have no idea who you are.

If you want to get rich, sell your company, have time for your hobbies, raise a halfway decent family, and enjoy the sunset with your wife on occasion, here are some of my highly effective recommendations.

 

1 – Procrastination

Procrastination is your body telling you you need to back off a bit and think more about what you are doing. When you procrastinate as an entrepreneur it could mean that you need a bit more time to think about what you are pitching a client. It could also mean you are doing work that is not your forte and that you are better off delegating. I find that many entrepreneurs are trying to do everything when it would be cheaper and more time-efficient to delegate, even if there are up front monetary costs associated with that. In my first business, it was like a lightbulb went off in my head the first time I delegated a programming job to someone other than me. Why did I decide finally to delegate then at that particular point? I had a hot date. Which was infinitely better than me sweating all night on some stupid programming bug.

Try to figure out why you are procrastinating. Maybe you need to brainstorm more to improve an idea. Maybe the idea is no good as is. Maybe you need to delegate. Maybe you need to learn more. Maybe you don’t enjoy what you are doing. Maybe you don’t like the client whose project you were just working on. Maybe you need to take a break. There’s only so many seconds in a row you can think about something before you need to take time off and rejuvenate the creative muscles. This is not for everyone. Great people can storm right through. Steve Jobs never needed to take a break. But I do.

Procrastination could also be a strong sign that you are a perfectionist. That you are filled with shame issues. This will block you from building and selling your business. Examine your procrastination from every side. It’s your body trying to tell you something. Listen to it.

 

2 – Zero-tasking

There’s a common myth that great people can multi-task efficiently. This might be true but I can’t do it. I have statistical proof. I have a serious addiction. If you ever talk on the phone with me there’s almost a 100% chance I am simultaneously playing chess online. The phone rings and one hand reaches for the phone and the other hand reaches for the computer to initiate a one minute game. Chess rankings are based on a statistically generated rating system. So I can compare easily how well I do when I’m on the phone compared with when I’m not on the phone. There is a three standard deviation difference. Imagine if I were talking on the phone and driving. It’s the same thing I’m assuming: phone calls cause a three standard deviation subtraction in intelligence. And that’s the basic multi-tasking we all do at some point or other.

So great people can multi-task. But since, by definition, most of us are not great , it’s much better to single-task. Just do one thing at a time.

Often, the successful mediocre entrepreneur should strive for excellence in ZERO-tasking. Do nothing. We always feel like we have to be “doing something” or we feel ashamed. Sometimes it’s better to just be quiet, to not think of anything at all. A very successful, self-made businessman once told me, “Never underestimate the power of a long, protracted silence.”

 

3 – Failure

As far as I can tell, Larry Page has never failed. He went straight from graduate school to billions. Ditto for Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and a few others. But again, by definition, most of us are pretty mediocre. We can strive for greatness but we will never hit it. That means we will often fail. Not ALWAYS fail. But often.

My last 16 out of 17 business attempts were failures. Ultimately, life is a sentence of failures, punctuated only by the briefest of successes. So the mediocre entrepreneur learns two things from failure: First, he learns directly how to overcome that particular failure. He’s highly motivated to not repeat the same mistakes. Second, he learns how to deal with the psychology of failure. Mediocre entrepreneurs fail A LOT. So they get this incredible skill of getting really good at dealing with failure. This translates to monetary success.

The mediocre entrepreneur understands that persistence is not the self-help cliché “Keep going until you hit the finish line!” It’s, “Keep failing until you accidentally no longer fail.” That’s persistence.

 

4 – Not Original

I’ve never come up with an original idea in my life. My first successful business was making web software, strategies, and websites for Fortune 500 companies. Not an original idea but at the time, in the 90s, people were paying exorbitant multiples for such businesses. My successful investments all involved situations where I made sure the CEOs and other investors were smarter than me. 100% of my zeros as an angel investor were situations where I thought I was smart. I wasn’t. I’m mediocre.

The best ideas are when you take two older ideas that have nothing to do with each other, make them have sex with each other, and then build a business around the bastard, ugly child that results. Look at Facebook: combine the internet with stalking. Amazing!

And, by the way, it was about the fifth attempt at such a social network. Twitter, combine internet with antiquated SMS protocols. Ugly! But it works. Ebay, combine ecommerce with auctions. If Justin Bieber sang John Lennon’s “Imagine” it would be a huge hit. I might even listen to it.

 

5 – Poor Networking

I’m that guy. You know the one at the party that doesn’t talk to anyone and stands in the corner. I usually say no to very nice networking dinner invitations. I like to stay home and read. When I was running businesses I was often too shy to talk to my employees. I would call my secretary from downstairs and ask if the hallway was clear, then ask her to unlock my door and I’d hurry upstairs and lock the door behind me. That particular company failed disastrously.

But many people network too much. Entrepreneurship is hard enough. It’s 20 hours a day of managing employees, customers, meetings, and product development. And then what are you going to do? Network all night? Save that for the great entrepreneurs. Or the ones who are about to fail. The mediocre entrepreneur works his 20 hours, then relaxes when he can. It’s tough to make money.

 

6 – Do Anything To Get A “Yes.”

Here’s a negotiation I did. I was starting stockpickr.com and meeting with the CEO of thestreet.com. He wanted his company to have a percentage of stockpickr.com and in exchange he would fill up all of our ad inventory. I was excited to do the deal. I said, “Ok, I was thinking you would get 10% of the company.” He laughed and said, “No. 50%”. He didn’t even say “We would like 50%”. He just said, “50%”. I then used all my negotiating skills and came up with a reply. “Okay. Deal.”

I’m a salesman. I like people to say yes to me. When I started a company doing websites we were pitching to do “miramax.com”. I said, “$50,000″. They said, “No more than $1,000 and that’s a stretch.” I used my usual technique: “Deal!”

But the end results: in one case thestreet.com had a significant financial stake so that gave them more psychological stake. And for my first business, Miramax was now on my client list. That’s why Con Edison had to pay a lot more. Often, the secret poor negotiators keep is that we get more deals done. I get the occasional loss leader, and then ultimately the big fish gets reeled in if I get enough people to say “yes”. It’s like asking every girl on the street to have sex with you. One out of 100 will say “yes”. In my case it might be one out of a million but you get the idea.

 

7 – Poor Judge of People

The mediocre entrepreneur doesn’t “Blink” in the Malcolm Gladwell sense. In Gladwell’s book he often talks about people who can form snap correct judgments in two or three seconds. My initial judgment when I meet or even see people is this: I hate you.

And then I veer from that to too trusting. Finally, after I bounce back and forth, and through much trial and error, I end up somewhere in the middle. I also tend to drop people I can’t trust very quickly. I think the great entrepreneur can make snap judgments and be very successful with it. But that doesn’t work for most people.

At this point, when I meet someone, I make sure I specifically don’t trust my first instincts. I get to know people more. I get to understand what their motivations are. I try to sympathize with whatever their position is. I try not to argue or gossip about them before I know anything. I have to do this because I’m mediocre and I’m a lot more at risk of bringing the wrong people into my circle.

So by the time I’ve decided to be close to someone–a client, an employee, an acquirer, an acquiree, a wife, etc–I’ve already done a lot of the thinking about them. This means I can’t waste time thinking about other things, like how to put a rocket ship on Jupiter. But overall it’s worked.

“I thought being mediocre is supposed to be bad?” one might think. Shouldn’t we strive for greatness? And the answer is: “Of course we should! But let’s not forget that 9 out of 10 motorists think they are ‘above average drivers.’” People overestimate themselves. Don’t let overestimation get in the way of becoming fabulously rich, or at least successful enough that you can have your freedom, feed your family, and enjoy other things in life.

 

Final Words

Being mediocre doesn’t mean you won’t change the world. It means being honest with yourself and the people around you. And being honest at every level is really the most effective habit of all if you want to have massive success.

 

Feature Image Courtesy of NBC

James Altucher is the author of Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream. With dozens of case studies, interviews and examples–including his own heartbreaking and inspiring story– James Altucher’s new book will show you how to illuminate your personal path to building a bright, new world out of the wreckage of the old by choosing yourself.

Advertisement
10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Jay

    Jul 4, 2013 at 12:49 am

    A mediocre article…

  2. Reuben

    Jun 23, 2013 at 2:50 am

    I think you made a very good point about procrastination. It can be debilitating but installing a trigger to stop and look more deeply at what’s going on is a great idea. Thanks.

  3. Jason Bennick

    Jun 16, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    A good read. A humorous take on mediocrity without branding it as a failure or success. Anyone reading this will get out of it what they want to.

  4. Motivational Speaker

    Jun 13, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Written tongue in cheek surely.

  5. tangomike88

    Jun 10, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I agree with Jeremy

  6. Jeremy Wiseman

    Jun 8, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    you lost me right at justin beiber. i must not be anything like you at all. subtract from mediocre i have just branded you pathetic.

  7. Edward Rapka

    Jun 8, 2013 at 5:28 am

    It’s absolutely true that talent, skill, competence and just about every other human characteristic exists on a statistical curve where most of us fall in the vast middle, “average” — or mediocre — portion. Only a few populate the ends as the truly great, or the abject worst. Nevertheless, the equation in Life is: Success = Talent (inate) + Skill (learned), and there have been countless numbers of quantifiably mediocre people who have achieved moderate, and even great, successes in life, by having the intention to be successful. Opportunities abound for those with a drive to succeed, if they choose to competently use the tools available to them, as I explore on my site. As James stresses, acknowledging your own “mediocrity” can be the first step to greatness, and to achieve your destiny the world.

  8. Nicola Jones (@nicolajonesTV)

    Jun 7, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Great article, fresh perspective, continued success and mediocrity.

  9. Nancy Whitney-Conway

    Jun 6, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I’ve learned so much from this article. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Steve May

    Jun 6, 2013 at 5:53 am

    Okay this article is freakin awesome. You are right Joel this writer is interesting. I will make sure that I share this with my friends and family now. thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Success Advice

8 Ways to L.E.V.E.R.A.G.E Your Story and Make Your Book Your New Business Card

Published

on

how to write a book
Image Credit: Pixabay

“I should write a book,” is something that every single person says to themselves at one point or another. Then, on the occasion that a family member, friend or mentee echo’s the statement, we decide to commit and dive into the process of translating our powerful story into the pages of a book. But here’s the thing, although “Just write” is a widely shared piece of advice for those bold enough to take action to go from idea to finished book, that advice will leave your book collecting dust on virtual shelves and not generating the revenue you envision for your message. (more…)

Continue Reading

Success Advice

How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Legitimate Business

Published

on

turning your hobby into a business
Image Credit: Pixabay

Hobbies generally aren’t about making money and becoming successful, like businesses are. Hobbies make you happy at the end of a long week or day of working at a job you might not love in a place that might be just a little bit too far away from home for your liking. Your hobbies are what show off your interests and love, and your passion above all else. (more…)

Continue Reading

Success Advice

3 Ways to Know if You’re Working Hard to Fail or Succeed

Published

on

are you working to fail or succeed
Image Credit: Unsplash

We know how important hard work is to achieve success, but we also know the road to success is filled with obstacles and failures. Many people have great ideas and don’t put the work in to make them succeed and go to the next level. We also see many people work hard on a terrible idea and succeed due to sheer hard work and determination. Then there is that third group, no matter how hard you work, you just may have a bad idea, bad product or missed your window and all the hard work in the world won’t get you to where you need to be. So how do you know when you’re working hard to fail or succeed? (more…)

Continue Reading

Success Advice

6 Steps to Changing Your Scarcity Mindset

Published

on

scarcity mindset

Having a scarcity mindset means fearing you’ll lose your source of income, shying away from taking risks, and believing there’s a set amount of success in the world. Its counterpart, an abundance mindset, believes that there’s opportunity for growth, risks are worth taking, and when we win, we all win together. To succeed in business, you need to adopt an abundance mindset. But how do you change your perspective?

Here are 6 ways you can change your perspective immediately:

1. Decide You Want to Change

The first step in changing your scarcity mindset is to acknowledge who you are and decide that you want to change. I compare it to the time twenty years ago when I decided to quit smoking. 

Smoking is clearly stupid, but back then it was widely accepted. Still, that’s not an excuse. The first thing I did was admit that I was addicted. The second step was making the commitment to quit. I had to decide that I didn’t want anything to have control over me anymore.

Those who want to change their scarcity mindset have to do the same thing. You may have to break your goals down into doable chunks, but you also have to keep your oars in the water. You have to keep rowing, put your back into it, and look for better opportunities. 

One of the hardest challenges will be changing how you view the ideas of others. You can’t think of those ideas as a threat, or the people as a threat. Don’t worry so much about personal success as you do about the success of the group. Remember the adage: there are three ways to do things—my way, your way, and a better way.

This notion of abundance goes beyond wealth. That’s part of it, of course, but embracing the idea of abundance means you want to experience more. You want to help more people. You want to have a greater impact on your family and your community. You have to acknowledge that you’re tired of worrying about your car breaking down and reassure yourself that if it does break down, you’ll find a way to fix it or get a new one. If you decide to buy a new car, donate your old one to the humane society so they can help animals. That’s abundance.

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn

2. Stay on Your Path

If you’re an entrepreneur starting a business, you probably already have an abundance mindset. That’s excellent. But you still need to keep working on your idea, regardless of the failures or setbacks you encounter. Just because you’re optimistic about your future doesn’t mean you don’t have to work hard and swim against the tide from time to time.

3. Talk about the Obstacles You’ll Face

Having an abundance mindset doesn’t mean you blithely glide over every hurdle. You won’t. Instead, you have to anticipate potential problems and start plotting how you’ll get past them. If you’re confident and optimistic, the answers come more quickly and in greater numbers, thus improving your chances of success. You can’t assume your business idea is going to be a mega-hit right from the start, and that you’ll make tons of money. That might happen, but chances are you’ll have to work long and hard hours first.

4. Develop Good Habits

It’s vital that you set strong goals and adopt the habits that will help you reach those goals. Networking is key to learning and to building contacts and community. It’s not just about the help you can receive, but the help you can give. Find ways to appreciate the uniqueness of others, whether you’re working with them or having a cocktail at the local pub.

“I have learned that champions aren’t just born; champions can be made when they embrace and commit to life-changing positive habits.” – Lewis Howes

5. Address One Problem at a Time

Starting a new business is often daunting. You may have a dream of what you want to accomplish, but the task in front of you seems overwhelming. Where do you start?

I like the approach Desmond Tutu once advocated. He said “There is only one way to eat an elephant, [and that’s] one bite at a time.” What this means is that the bigger the endeavor, the more crucial it is that you break up the challenge into smaller pieces. The problems seem less intimidating and more doable when you look at them in smaller, discrete portions.

It’s not unusual for people to freeze up or get discouraged when faced with a big, hairy task, so in addition to the wisdom of Desmond Tutu, it also helps to keep in mind this observation by Mark Twain: “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” It’s much easier to make progress in your big goal when you chip away at the challenges.

6. Don’t Kick the Can

It may be tempting to put off work on a particularly gnarly problem or to delay a decision on something until you have more information, but be forewarned: you can only kick the can down the road so many times before it becomes the size of a fifty-gallon drum. When that happens, procrastination is no longer an option.

Instead, just make a decision. Whether it’s the right decision or the wrong one, at least you did something. If it turns out to be the wrong decision, at least now you know what not to do, and you’re halfway there. You’ll learn and you’ll be able to adjust. You miss those opportunities when you put off making a move.

Once you have an abundance mindset, the possibilities open to you will seem endless. 

How have you developed an abundance mindset in life? Share your thoughts and ideas below!

Continue Reading

Trending