Avoiding Common Mistakes People Tend To Make in Life

Larry M. Jacobson (attachment # 1)Hey Larry,

I enjoy reading your blogs. I have a quick question. You hear a lot about mistakes people make when they are first starting out. Can you please give me some advice on how to avoid some of these mistakes? – Jason K. (Newport, Rhode Island)

Great question, Jason.  I admire you for wanting to learn how to avoid mistakes early in your life.  I wish I had your foresight growing up.  I read a great article recently by Henrik Edberg called “Do You Make these 10 Common Mistakes When You Think?” Below are the headers from his list followed by my own insights, which is good advice for adults of all ages.

1. You Overthink – you overanalyze until you sweat the small stuff and become paralyzed out of fear.

2. You see things in black and white – Your way or the highway. You create unnecessary barriers to your own success.

3. You think the world is revolving around you – You are too consumed by your own thoughts and you ignore the common sense advice from others. Despite what your parents, friends, spouse, significant other or “mirror reflection” tells you, you are not the smartest person in the room.

4. You generalize yourself and your world – Generalizations are often unfounded projections of oneself or others.  Do not let the negative comments or views of a select few dictate how you perceive yourself or what others may think about you. Stop being so hard on yourself.

5. You look for problems even when there are none – You look for smoke when there is no fire. You always expect a shoe to drop, or something to go wrong. This can often lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

6. You are addicted to your comfort zone – As I discuss in my book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Achieving Personal and Financial Success, one of the main reasons why so many people seem to fail and never achieve their goals and success is because they simply succumb to their fears and never make any real efforts to ever get out of their negative comfort zone. This would involve doing the necessary disciplined work to improve their current situations or, even better, understanding how to avoid their comfort zone altogether.

7. You think about yourself as a victim – No one has control or power over your life unless you give them that power. Take the appropriate actions to own your own circumstances and stop blaming others for poor decisions that you either made or did not make.

8. You think that what you feel now is just how it is – To quote the Chinese Tao Philosopher, Lao Tzu: “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”  Enough said!

9. You compare yourself to other people – Stop trying to “keep up with the Joneses.” Comparing yourself to others is the quickest way to lose your own way. Do not cut corners by trying to live outside your financial and personal means. Do not make rash or emotional decisions that only create more drama and delays toward accomplishing your own goals.

10. You think you already know how things work – What possesses normal, intelligent, educated adults (young and old alike) to ignore basic common sense? Like I said earlier, you are not the smartest person in the room. Successful people listen, learn, and lead.

“Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” ~ Friedrich Nietzche

Best of luck and keep me posted as you grow your future success,


Can an Iced Tea Really Impact Your Overall Success?

I know this may sound really silly or petty, but I was recently in a restaurant and asked my server to bring me an iced tea with no lemon. A few minutes later, she returned with my iced tea and, sure enough, there was a wedge of lemon floating on the top of it.

For a moment, I replayed the conversation I just had with my server – less than five minutes ago – to determine if I had omitted the fact that I did not want a slice of lemon in my iced tea. The simple realization I made was that either the server failed to communicate my request to omit the lemon from my iced tea when she placed my order, or she failed to recognize that the preparer added the lemon despite both of our requests. Needless to say, the server was wrong because she was unaware of the error, not to mention that she may have even ignored it herself if she was the one who prepared it.

A couple of days later, I was sitting in the airport in LA and I stopped in one of those airport restaurant/pubs. I decided to order a cheeseburger with bacon and no cheese, which was a custom order because only cheeseburgers appeared on their menu. When the server finally brought over my food, there was no bacon as I had requested! Again, was this a failure on the server’s part to request the bacon burger I wanted, or was it her failure to notice that the order she picked up from the kitchen was not prepared as I requested?

These two isolated incidents had really brought the issue of awareness to my attention. In both instances, the servers clearly were not aware that they did not provide me with the orders I had requested. So this brought me to an even bigger realization: can an iced tea really impact your overall success?

If you have ever considered starting your own business or running a major corporation, your long-term success will not only depend on your creativity and advertising, but also on your keen awareness and attention to the details. Your clients’ needs and expectations are paramount to not only your business success but to their ultimate customer satisfaction.  Your mastery of the details will not only be crucial in obtaining and retaining a client’s trust, but your ability to be aware and cognizant of their needs will differentiate you from your competition.

“This is what customers pay us for – to sweat all these details so it’s easy and pleasant for them to use our computers. We’re supposed to be really good at this. That doesn’t mean we don’t listen to customers, but it’s hard for them to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it.” – Steve Jobs, CEO Apple Corp, Inc.

So the next time you are in a position to assist someone, regardless of the task at hand, take that extra moment to really listen to what they are asking of you. Equally important, evaluate whether or not you have successfully provided them with their desired outcome. Not only will your efforts potentially sweeten a well-deserved tip, it could be the very thing that ultimately differentiates you from so many unaware individuals that will never ‘get it’ nor really understand why they are unable to achieve the success they desire.

You know, all this writing has made me a little thirsty. I would love an iced tea with no lemon, please.