I work a lot with middle managers who have been stuck in middle management for years. I am always interested in why many of them have been middle managers for so long and have never moved up into the higher reaches of their companies. They say they want to be promoted, but they have not been promoted “yet”. When I talk with them about it, they always have an excuse of some sort. Excuses that people in the higher reaches of their companies never have and have never used. But then that’s why they are in the upper echelons.
These excuses come in many different forms. Some are related to a lack of English, when in reality there is no lack of English, just a lack of confidence with English. But admitting you have a lack of confidence in anything is much harder to say than saying “my English is not good enough”. Other excuses come in the form of not having any luck, or not having the marketing know-how or having no experience in a particular area of the business.
All these excuses are just that. Excuses. I still have not come across any legitimate reason why any of these people stuck in middle management cannot progress to directorships. They are smart, highly intelligent people. They have immense experience and are fantastic at building relationships. All of the excuses they have could easily be rectified with a little self-development or reading.
I often feel incredibly frustrated when talking with these people. There is excuse after excuse followed by more excuses. They seem incapable of finding reasons why they can do it. Instead they expend an enormous amount of energy trying to find reasons why they can’t do it. I know it is much easier to use an excuse and then get confirmation of that excuse by talking with like minded people. But really what does that achieve? All it does is give you another excuse not to do anything about your unhappy situation.
The thing is, you can do something about it. If you lack the necessary skills to progress, then start reading books around the subject, or do an online course. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of you own home to do that. If you are overweight and want to lose some weight, then stop eating so much. Reduce your calorie intake and get more active. It’s not impossible. If you are trying to buy your first home, then start saving money. Don’t spend money and get yourself a part-time weekend job. If you really want to get the deposit together for the house enough, you will always find away.
And that is what it really comes down to. If you really want something enough you will find a way. I find people only make excuses because either they are afraid they will fail or they really do not want it badly enough. Failure is inevitable. We all fail from time to time. To overcome failure you find alternative ways to succeed. Fear is not something to be afraid of. It is something to overcome. And if you really do not want whatever it is badly enough, then stop talking about doing it and find something you really want to achieve.
In twenty-five years of studying what makes people successful and productivity systems, I have learnt that most things are achievable. There of course some limitations. You are not going to become the next Olympic 100 metre champion if you are 50 years old, 30 pounds overweight and have never run on a track before. You left it too late. But if you are in middle management and want to get yourself to an executive position you need to find out what it is that is holding you back and then create a plan to overcome whatever it is that is holding you back. That is achievable.
A plan is only as good as the activity you do to make it happen. There are many plans written down, but only the successful execute those plans. And that is where most people go wrong. They plan out what they want, but then don’t execute on that plan. If you want to change your life around, really want to get yourself promoted to the position you believe you should be at, then you need to create the plan and execute it. Daily activities that take you closer and closer every day towards that goal.
I often ask my students if they won the lottery and wanted the best investment advice, who would you go to? 90% of my students reply: Warren Buffet. Warren Buffett is 86 years old! But he’s still one of the best. How does he do that? He reads 4 to 5 hours a day. That’s how he does it. What he does not know about investing is not worth knowing. Age is not a limitation in business. In fact, age is often an advantage in business.
As I sit here and write this I realise this all sounds very simple. The thing is it is simple. But therein lies the problem. If it is simple to do, it is also easy not to do. As humans we naturally take the path of least resistance and so we do not do anything. Or we say, I will do it later, when I have more time or when I have thought it out properly. Remember, whenever you say things like “when I have more time” or “when I have planned it out properly” you are making excuses. If you want something, the time to start is now. No more excuses. Just start. Plan today, execute tomorrow and the day after, and the day after that until you have achieved your goal. You can always modify your plan as you go along. But you need to start now and have no more excuses.
You have the power to change almost anything about your life. You also have the power to do nothing. The choice is always yours. So go ahead and decide and don’t let anything stop you. No more excuses!
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Carl Pullein is a personal development and productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more successful, productive and creative.