If your immediate reaction to a book titled 9 Things Successful People Do Differently — was, like mine — “Oh great, I was hoping to find yet another set of standards I can’t achieve,” relax. The 100-page book by motivational psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson is jam-packed with counterintuitive wisdom, all based on years of research into the science of achievement.
One example: Probably the best thing you can to help yourself meet new challenges, is to give yourself permission to screw up. “Studies show that when people feel they are allowed to make mistakes,” Halvorson writes, “they are significantly less likely to make them.”
And you might think that you are helping yourself stay motivated by concentrating on how far you’ve come, but motivation is heightened when you focus on what is left to be accomplished. (But beware of too much self-assessment when you are learning new things.) You can read a short version of all nine tips here.
When I interviewed Halvorson — she will be the Opening General Speaker at the PCMA Education Conference — I asked her if the research applied to groups as well as to individuals. Do the same things work for teams?
“Essentially, yes,” Halvorson said. “ In fact, what you find when you take things from the individual level to the group level and you are working in teams and organizations, it is not so much that the old ideas do not work, but that new problems are created that are unique to groups — things having to do with communication and sharing knowledge with one another, or overcommitment.
One of the interesting things you find in groups is that sometimes one person is more likely to realize that a project is a bad idea midway through than a group of people working on their project. Something about working in groups makes us more likely to stay committed to losing ideas, to things that are not working.
Having a plan — check out tip #2 — to regularly evaluate a project’s progress and share information with each other is a really great way to deal with that problem, Halvorson said.
“You can take some of these same strategies and apply them to group problems and they are very, very effective. As leaders and as managers you have this unique opportunity to help a whole group of people get into the habit of using these strategies and then everyone is more successful and the group is more successful because of it.”