Successful People Don’t Do These Things. Do You?
July 11, 2017
What does it take to be a success in the life sciences industry? The sector has a wealth of intelligent and ambitious individuals, from top scientists through to high-performing pharmaceutical sales reps.
But is intelligence and drive all it takes to be a success at work?
Sadly not. Success in the workplace can sometimes be just as much about regulating your own emotions and building effective relationships as it is about skills and academic achievement.
Why Mastering Your Emotions is Key to Career Success
You may know of a scientist who has a brilliant mind, but doesn’t progress in their career due to conflict at work, or whose self-doubt holds them back from applying for promotion. You can probably also think of someone who isn’t quite a first-class mind, and yet their career is skyrocketing. The difference, more often than not, is how this person manages their emotions and conducts themselves in the workplace.
A high IQ will often get you into a role in life sciences, but how you perform once in the job is down to your emotional intelligence: that is, being aware of and controlling their own emotions, being aware of others’ emotions, and building relationships with empathy.
As Daniel Coleman, author of the seminal text Emotional Intelligence, wrote in Time magazine,
‘There’s no question IQ is by far the better determinant of career success, in the sense of predicting what kind of job you will be able to hold. But here’s the paradox: once you’re in a high-IQ position, intellect loses its power to determine who will emerge as a productive employee or an effective leader. For that, how you handle yourself and your relationships — in other words, the emotional intelligence skill set — matters more than your IQ. In a high-IQ job pool, soft skills like discipline, drive and empathy mark those who emerge as outstanding.’
Mastering Emotions is the Key to Your Success
No matter how many papers you’ve had published or degrees achieved, your intellectual capacity must be partnered with a high measure of emotional intelligence in order to truly succeed in an organisation- whether as a high performing employee or a leader.
Luckily, emotional intelligence can be learnt. Looking at the list below of things that successful people DON’T do, you’ll notice that every single one is about having the right mindset, allowing them to remain calm, confident, and successful.
Do you still do any of these things? And do you think these bad emotional habits might be standing in the way of your success?
Things Successful People Don’t Do.
1. Successful people don’t say yes when they should say no.
Life science roles can be high pressure, and those employees who can’t say no when being overburdened with extra tasks or responsibilities are more likely to suffer stress, burnout, and depression. Learning to say no at work when you need to allows you to follow through on your existing commitments, rather than spreading yourself too thin.
Learn to say no when asked if you can take on extra jobs—and don’t pussyfoot around with woolly language like ‘I don’t think I can’, or ‘I’m really not sure that I can help.’ Be bold. You certainly shouldn’t be rude or abrupt, but politely tell the person that ‘no, I don’t have time to take that on.’ Of course, if the boss insists, that’s another matter entirely.
2. They don’t chase perfection where it’s not required.
This can be a hard line to walk in the life sciences industry, where employees tend to have a technical eye and excel at detail. However, the key to success often comes down to knowing when a particular task does not require laser focus and dedication- rather that getting it done to an acceptable standard is all that matters so you can move on to something more important.
When you notice that you’re throwing away time on something that doesn’t have long-term importance, pull back, and instead aim for an adequate standard. What matters more: a weekly report for the boss that you know they only skim for top line info, or the research you’re working on? Value your time as precious, and allocate the bulk of your effort to high payoff activities.
3. Successful people are really good at failure
Given that science is built on experimentation and countless failures before reaching breakthroughs, you’d expect scientists to be very good at dealing with their failures at work. However, scientists, like most people, often struggle emotionally with failure, allowing it to undermine their confidence and drive. Successful people, on the other hand, really do see failure as merely an experiment that didn’t work- and then take the ‘data’ learnt from the experiment to improve.
View your work ups and downs just as you do your scientific results: as an experiment to learn from.
4. Successful people don’t wait until ‘the time is right’.
Many life science professionals are extremely competent, but second-guess their readiness for promotion or new challenges because they feel they’re ‘not quite ready’ yet. Because scientists are academic, they often get caught in the trap of believing that if they just do some more study/write another paper/get more lab time, then they’ll be more qualified- more ready- to finally ask for that promotion or project lead they dream of. This often means that they never feel ready to act on their dreams, as there’s always more to learn. There’s a great Hugh Laurie quote that really sums this one up:
‘It’s a terrible thing, I think, to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, it’s as good a time as any.’
5. Successful people don’t get derailed by criticism.
Because successful people are almost always emotionally intelligent, they don’t allow other people’s opinions to undermine their self-worth. They can take criticism as what it is—constructive or even vindictive—but no matter what spirit it’s given in, it won’t break the spirit of the successful person.
6. Successful people don’t need to look good all the time.
They ask for help with a confident openness because they’re not bothered by what others might think of them asking: they just want to learn. They openly admit when they’ve made mistakes, and accept the blame when it’s required, thereby demonstrating their integrity to colleagues.
How many of these traps do you fall into presently? Start building your emotional intelligence, and the success that has evaded you shall surely follow.