7 habits of “highly effective people” that are actually ineffective

Someone who’s defined as effective is a natural leader who excels at what they do. They’re punctual, and they know how to manage their responsibilities, both at work and at home. 

While most of us want to learn exactly what these enthusiastic and driven people do to achieve their success, there are some habits that can hinder more than help. Maybe you are a successful person, but you don’t realize that these habits are actually counterproductive!

What am I talking about? 

Not every behavior or approach of “effective people” will work for long-term success. Being too focused, expecting instant results, and failing to keep your ego in check are but a few. 

If you want to know how to stay on top of your A-game and reach your own level of success, then I recommend looking at the following 7 habits of “highly effective people” that are actually ineffective. 

1) They seek instant gratification. 

Imagine this…

You’ve worked hard to overcome adversities in your life, and you’ve climbed up the ladder of success. Your career is taking off, and you don’t take no for an answer, so you expect results when you work hard. 

That’s reasonable. 

But gradually, you develop the attitude of expecting things now rather than later, and chaos ensues when you don’t get the answers you want right away. 

That’s the desire for instant gratification. 

The problem with wanting things immediately is that we never learn to wait because we find it inconvenient. 

So why exactly is instant gratification a problem? 

It inhibits our ability to practice patience and self-control. 

By placing so much emphasis on wanting things now, we fail to value long-term goal achievement

Even the most effective people who rely on the efficiency of digital technology and a rapid pace of life can develop poor impulse control, affecting their careers, finances, and closest relationships. 

2) They tend to be overly optimistic. 

I bet you didn’t think that optimism would be a problem for highly effective people! Truth be told, it’s not exactly about seeing things on the bright side; it’s a problem when you’re too optimistic that everything will go your way all the time. 

It’s sad, but true.  

It’s a habit best explained by the so-called “optimism bias,” in which we expect good things to happen more frequently than anything negative or challenging. 

Highly functional people have a tendency to expect positive results, even to the point of being considered irrational. 

You have a rewarding career, your children are doing well, you’ve just moved into a new house, and you don’t expect situations such as your wife leaving you or your business to go south because those things affect other people’s lives, not yours. 

It’s a scary mindset to have. 

And the reason I’m saying that it’s scary is because of the emotional turmoil one can experience when unexpected things happen. 

Most of us understand that you can’t predict the future and that bad things happen that are out of our control. But we deal with it and have to move forward when it becomes a reality. 

If you have the belief or attitude that bad things only happen to other people, when you eventually have to face disappointment or challenges, it can bring you to your knees. 

Optimism is a fantastic habit, but being overly optimistic is definitely an ineffective trap that many “effective” people fall into. 

3) They develop big egos. 

10 phrases a truly confident person would never say 2 7 habits of “highly effective people” that are actually ineffective

When you know that you’re getting things done, you feel good, and your success should speak for itself. 

But when you’re successful, sometimes it’s hard to be humble. 

With success comes admiration, followers, and influence. There’s no doubt that for some, the focus shifts from letting their work ethic and professionalism shine to giving their egos center stage! 

Most would agree that you can’t be passive to be effective and achieve your goals, but that doesn’t give anyone permission to be arrogant. 

Arrogance is believed to give individuals the push or the gusto to think that they can achieve anything, no matter the cost. Unfortunately, this “push” can come across as being rude, insensitive, loud, and brash. 

All I know is that being strong and confident can give you the same motivation without being inconsiderate or letting your ego get the better of you. 

It’s certainly not pleasant to be in the company of someone who’s arrogant. So, while you might be successful in what you do, arrogance is definitely an ineffective habit. 

4) They create interdependent relationships. 

Effective people like to build mutually beneficial relationships with others because they understand how important it is to make reliable connections. 

In a work scenario, highly functional individuals will go out of their way to reach out to someone else if they need a favor that will also benefit the other person. 

This means creating solutions or ideas in which both parties can advance and get closer to achieving their goals. Whether that means putting in a good word with the boss or getting assigned as project leader, there’s always a motivation. 

So, how is this actually an ineffective habit? 

The more you rely on favors or mutual benefits, the greater the risk of taking advantage of others for your personal gain. 

It’s all good and well to think that your plan or strategy is going to help someone else out, but too much focus on developing these connections for the sole purpose of benefiting from them can make you lose sight of what authentic relationships are. 

These types of relationships can eventually lead to selfishness, and rather than considering the needs and interests of the other person, you use them to get what you want. 

5) They’re driven to the point of being unreliable. 

Have you ever heard the term flaky? 

It means that you’re not seen as dependable because you’re always doing things that disappoint people who depend on you. 

Think about this: 

Every morning, you’re out of bed by 7 a.m., you religiously check your email (even the spam folder), and you have a to-do list that never goes unchecked. 

Add to that your entrepreneurial responsibilities trying to get a business off the ground, and before you know it, you’re drowning in an overload of work. 

When you’re driven, you try to do it all, and when you’re running a tight ship, no one can tell you that you’re taking on too much or that you’re on the brink of burnout. 

You’re so motivated that it could lead to your detriment. 

The more you take on, the less balance you have in your life. 

You start ditching catch-ups with friends after work; you have less time to spend with your family, and eventually, it filters into your work with constant delays or forgetfulness that makes you seem unreliable. 

So you go from being an effective individual managing multiple responsibilities to seemingly flaky and inconsistent. 

It’s a hard pill to swallow. 

But an essential part of maintaining your effectiveness and confidence is recognizing when you’re taking on too much and reaching out for help when you need it. 

6) They adapt to trends. 

body language mistakes that make you look less confident 7 habits of “highly effective people” that are actually ineffective

When you’re considered a leader, you think outside the box, and you’re an innovator. While these traits are certainly true for successful people, some make the mistake of following and adapting to trends rather than creating their own. 

There are many times when we try things that other people are doing in the hopes that we’ll get the same or better results, assuming these behaviors are positive and constructive. 

Most highly effective people incorporate plans, strategies, and habits to suit their needs and lifestyles, but they don’t necessarily adopt an innovative approach. 

They might adapt existing trends that other people are following or incorporating to achieve their goals, but this only leads to short-term success. 

While most of us follow or take inspiration from what other people do, it’s important to develop your own plans and approaches to help you reach long-term goals. 

Trends come and go. 

While incorporating an idea here and there might work for you in the short term, it’s always better to develop your own methods to avoid becoming an unsuccessful person

7) They’re too focused. 

This might seem really odd, but when you’re too focused, it can actually be more limiting than you could ever imagine. 

You and I both know that you have to focus if you want to get anything done, but when you’re highly effective and driven, you become hyper-focused. 

So you spend most of your time in rigid concentration on a single task, which actually hinders your creativity

Allowing yourself room to breathe by stepping away from a task and becoming a little distracted could lead to some much-needed inspiration. 

When you’re hyper-focused, you put so much pressure on yourself that you’re unable to see anything outside of your tunnel vision. 

By taking a breather and meditating or reading a few pages of a good book, you’d be surprised to find that you refresh your creativity and imagination. 

There’s nothing wrong with a small dose of distraction. 

If you get stuck on a task, allow yourself to drift off and daydream for a short while. It helps to see things in a new light rather than try to make limiting or ineffective ideas work. 

Final thoughts

It takes an incredible amount of hard work and inner motivation to become a truly effective person in this world. 

You’ve got to manage your time, take on responsibilities, and know how to be a leader and a team player at the same time. 

While many habits of successful people, such as their drive, optimism, and go-getter attitude, are all considered positive attributes, they can get to a point where they hinder one’s progress or hurt one’s relationships more than build growth and success. 

So, if you catch yourself practicing the habits of highly effective people that are actually ineffective, it’s time to hit the brakes and find some new direction. 

I think Drake says it best: “When a good thing goes bad, it’s not the end of the world.” 

You just need a do-over. 

Picture of Marcel Deer

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.