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Don't sabotage your own career

  • Story Highlights
  • Very successful people have a clear life plan
  • You must stay on par with colleagues and those vying for your job
  • Winners in business know that it's all about accountability
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By Rachel Zupek
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Despite differences like job title, occupation, skill level and salary, all workers have something in common: the fear of getting fired. But regardless of their best efforts, many working professionals hear the words, "You're fired!" at least once during their careers. Little do they know, it may be their own fault.


"Most of today's managers have been taught with books which are out of date or out of touch with the realities of today's business world," says John McKee, author of "Career Wisdom." "By following concepts or ideas which may have worked when the pace of change was slower and more predictable, they are unknowingly plodding a path which simply doesn't work in an era of fewer people at all levels doing more than their predecessors."

Avoiding self-destructive habits seems like common sense, but McKee says reasonable thinking is sometimes forgotten when employees try to learn new habits, styles and techniques in their line of business.

"It's almost as if we go to college or get into technical job training for whatever we aspire for, and then the new ideas or training cause us to overlook the more applicable answers which we would have known without the training."

To avoid your own career self-destruction, McKee suggests avoiding these 10 habits:

1. Not having a life plan.

All very successful people have a clear life plan, whether memorized or actually written down. They create it, massage it and refer to it often. Nearly 85 percent of people who are satisfied with their life overall have a personal action plan, McKee says.

"Without a plan, we leave our success in the hands of others who may or may not have time to look after other people's successes," he says.

2. Not keeping your skill set current.

The business landscape is ever-changing and there is more demand for jobs than supply. Not staying on par with colleagues and those vying for your job will be a deathtrap. Companies are looking for ways to reduce expenses or get the maximum return on their investments, McKee says, including personnel. "If someone else is capable of producing a greater return, you are at risk of being replaced."

3. Failing to deliver results.

Winners in business know that it's all about accountability. Those who harbor a sense of entitlement for simply having put forth effort, irrespective of the results of those efforts, are guaranteed to fall by the wayside.

"Many individuals simply don't understand that business and professional fields ... are becoming more like the radio business," he says. "If one's 'ratings' are going down, they get replaced."

4. Confusing efficiency with effectiveness.

Those who think that communicating via e-mail replaces the need to actually talk with people around them fail to recognize the importance of personally connecting with others in today's highly automated and technological environment. Communicating in person is imperative for success-seekers.

5. Believing you are irreplaceable.

There is no room for "divas" in the workplace. As soon as you convince yourself that you and only you can do the job "right," your star will surely start to fall.

6. Knowing all the answers.

The old adage remains true: Knowledge is power. Professing to know it all can readily stagnate a career. Winners remain unceasingly interested in learning ideas and approaches.

"The best leaders love to ask questions," McKee says. "They stay current, get new ideas to follow up on and earn the respect of their teams. With that respect, the team members are more likely to work harder for the boss."

7. Surrounding yourself with "brown-nosers."

Serial "labor losers" like having people tell them how smart they are, whether or not it's true. Successful managers and other professionals accept and encourage intelligence and creativity in others.

8. Forgetting to give credit to others.

Labor losers inappropriately take full credit for positive events despite the help or input received by others. Winners give credit where credit is due.

"People are becoming less likely to sit back quietly while their boss steals ideas or takes credit for great ideas which weren't their own," McKee says.

9. Failing to self-promote.

Bragging is one thing, but letting colleagues in your industry know of your success through case studies, promotion bulletins or other such tools is another. Labor losers often fail to recognize the importance of letting others know about their successes, or they go about it in the entirely wrong way.

10. Losing perspective.

Intuitive business people recognize that, despite their best attempts to do everything right, sometimes they approach roadblocks and seek the advice and perspective of a respected friend, colleague or even a business coach. Those who fail to recognize their shortcomings are destined for the unemployment line. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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