Ways that you can undermine your own success: Overconfidence by Roz Usheroff

I was reading a recent article recounting how Marissa Mayer assumed the helm of Yahoo from under the apparent nose of then interim CEO Ross Levinsohn.

It is an interesting story in that it revealed what can go wrong when like Levinsohn you (a) believe your own press (b) think schmoozing alone with other colleagues will secure a future promotion and (c) blindly assume that your ideas for change are the be all and end all, without bringing the right people on-board to serve as an all-important sounding board.

When I say sounding board I am talking about an earnest effort to solicit critical feedback as opposed to a languid acquiescence to one’s authority or position.  Think of the brave little girl who boldly announced that the Emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes.  I know that I would prefer being told straight up that I missed the mark with an idea as opposed to operating under a false belief that I had hit it out of the park.

The real question I have to ask however is simply this . . . was Ross Levinsohn overconfident, believing that he was a shoe-in for the permanent CEO position?

In this context was Levinsohn’s greater failings tied to arrogance or complacency?

Regardless of the reason this speaks to the importance of being disciplined enough to run the race through to the finish line by not assuming the victory (or promotion) before it has actually been achieved.

If Levinsohn were my client I would have advised him that shoe-ins can turn to the opposite direction, and that preparation and networking with the right people to get the right feedback is critical to avoiding a costly misstep.

At the end of the day, and as I wrote in my book, you have to “build greater awareness of how others perceive you,” and proactively “conduct market research and seek feedback from trusted advisers/confidantes/sponsors who will tell you the truth!”

In future posts I will touch on some of the other things we can unintentionally do to undermine our own efforts and ultimately success.

In the meantime, I would invite you to share your thoughts and stories relating to other mistakes or oversights that someone can do to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Charlie Brown Baseball2

From Mighty Casey to Charlie Brown . . .



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