People often ask me for advice and this is both a great privilege and a burden (particularly when I’m playing Fire Drop on my phone). Yet, with all of the questions I get asked, no one has ever asked how to make themselves more miserable. This is surprising considering how people specialize in that practice. So, I’d like to take this opportunity and answer a question that literally no one has ever asked me:
How can I be my own worst enemy?
Well, the steps are easy and the good news is, if you follow this advice and you’ll never have to worry about someone else ruining your life.
– Don’t ask questions. You already see all of the angles and you already know the right course of action. You are a genius. You can read people’s minds. You can see the future. So, don’t learn more, just focus on how to win people over to your side.
– Always find blame. There is no such thing as an accident. Someone is always too blame. If it’s someone else, then be mean to them. If it’s you, then make sure you beat yourself up over it. Don’t ever let mistakes go.
– Don’t stick to commitments. Sure you have to promise things sometimes, but don’t limit yourself. You have the right to change your mind on short notice. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. Freedom is the most important thing.
– Hide your expectations. It’s obvious what you like and what you don’t like. If other people don’t see that then they are stupid. You are one of the best communicators in the world (top 20 at least). You don’t ask questions so why do they?
– Don’t be skeptical. You base your life on faith and trust. Things don’t have to make sense to be true. You don’t have enough experience or education, so you trust those that do. Being curious will only slow things down.
– Don’t make mistakes. You have high standards and you won’t compromise. Think everything out in great detail before you take action. If you spend enough time planning every possible choice and consideration will be covered.
– Don’t be vulnerable. Don’t rely on anyone. Everyone will disappoint you so just learn to take care of yourself. Never ask for help. Never admit that you have weaknesses. Don’t delegate. Don’t trust. Be an island.
Remember, if you hold the keys to your own happiness then you also hold the keys to your own misery. Your beliefs are particularly hard to see and therefore are particularly hard to judge. You are likely creating lots of problems for yourself and if you really want to make things better (or want a serious challenge), then be brave and get a counselor, get a coach, read some self-help books, or ask for honest feedback from friends. Don’t go up against yourself alone.
About the author: Chris Cowan is an executive coach and an expert in adult and organizational learning. He is currently working as a consultant with the Federal government. He has previously worked for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Leadership Development and the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Previous consulting clients include, Fannie Mae, Samsung USA, the United States Air Force, and Microsoft. He has written or co-authored 13 articles on adult learning and is a certified action learning coach and training evaluator. Chris received his Masters from Harvard in 2005 and is currently writing his dissertation on transformational leadership at the George Washington University. He currently drives a 2008 Dodge Viper. Feel free to contact him with questions at Chrcowan@gmail.com.