Below is a good article from Monster.com that focuses on what I call the “inner circle” elements of professional mastery. Most of us have at one time or another engaged in one or more of these activities and that’s ok. One of the key behaviors in the article is learning to not beat yourself up for mistakes, but to learn from them and move on.

While these activities will probably not disappear from the work place any time soon, you can train yourself to resist the temptation to get pulled into them. Start small with one or two of the habits you engage in most, create reminders both mentally and physically(like pictures, music, quotes, notes to yourself, etc.) that help you break the pattern when you begin to slip. Have something to refocus on, often the antithesis of the counterproductive behavior is best. In other words, if you begin to complain, stop and think about things at work to be grateful for and talk about that. Be sure to have some kind of anchor (like ringing the bell in the Pavlov’s Dog experiment) to attach to the new focus. The power of conditioning is very real and we attach both positive and negative associations to objects and people on a subconscious level.  You want more positive anchors at work than negative. 

Be introspective at the end of the day without playing the blame game. How did you do today? Did you avoid the counterproductive habits or even better, replace them with productive ones? What can you do differently tomorrow? Feel good about the progress you make and continue to redirect the your frustrations to productive habits. 

Then you must practice, practice, practice! It takes 30-45 days of daily repetition to retrain a habit and that’s when you want to make it work.

I suggest, from experience, that learning to minimize these habits is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself professionally and personally. It will begin to pull the other circles of professional mastery in to you like gravity, like a magnet.

Bring your best in 2011!

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