10 Stupid Mistakes Smart People Make

IQ only gets you so far. The rest of success is avoiding missteps (see below) and then simply showing up and starting.
10 Stupid Mistakes Smart People Make
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Guest Writer
Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach and Leadership/Business Consultant
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Being smart doesn't stop you from making stupid mistakes, mistakes that can bring your business to its knees. 
In this article, I will describe 10 mistakes that smart people need to learn to avoid if they want to be more successful.

1. Spend too much time thinking and not enough doing.

Planning and preparation are important ingredients in achieving success, but the most important of all is action. You cannot think your way to success no matter how smart you are. At some point, you need to roll your sleeves up and make it happen.

2. Wait to be promoted before doing the next level job.

If you want to be a leader, then you need to start leading. Leadership isn't a title or a position; it's about action, influence and the ability to drive results. Throughout my career, I have seen people wait to be offered a leadership position before they start to lead. But that's like waiting to be picked for a football team before you learn to be good at football. More often than not it's not going to happen. Lead first and then the position will come.

Related: 4 Attributes That Set Entrepreneurs Apart From Employees

3. Overcomplicate things.

We have a natural tendency to overcomplicate things, and the smarter people are, the worse this affliction seems to be. It's almost as if they need to create complex solutions to prove how smart they truly are. But as Tony Robbins says "Complexity is the enemy of execution," and if we hamper our ability to execute, then we limit the results we can achieve. 

4. Underrate the amount of effort.

Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. The problem is, usually the perspiration needs to come first, not the other way round. It's only by diving in and working hard that we can see a smarter way of doing things is necessary. Remember, it is necessity that is the mother of invention.

Related: Effort Is an Overlooked But Major Key to Success

5. Fail to communicate clearly.

When we communicate, it's the responsibility of the person sending the message to make sure that it's received and understood. We need to explain things clearly and simply. When people can understand, then they can implement. Too often it's left to the party receiving the message to figure out what was being said, and what needs to be done. Just because we're smart enough to know what we've said doesn't mean that the person receiving the message fully understood it. And when smart people get this one wrong, it can result in failure for both. 

6. Give up in the face of failure. 

I have written in the past about the importance of attitude over aptitude. Without the right attitude we give up too quickly; we accept failure as final. To succeed you need to develop an attitude of commitment to go with your aptitude, and then you will be unstoppable. Failure is inevitable: It's how we deal with it that determines how successful we will be.

7. Fail To Delegate.

"It would be quicker if I just did it myself" is a phrase you often hear from those who either struggle to delegate or who don't like to delegate. But when you refuse to delegate work you limit your team's achievements to what you can achieve yourself. When you delegate, it allows you to increase results significantly. Also, if you cannot delegate you become indispensable at your current level, which might sound like a good thing, but it could actually stop you from being promoted.

8. Reject feedback. 

To improve performance, we need to get feedback. It allows us to know what went well and what needs to be worked on. Without feedback, we can develop bad habits that reduce both our effectiveness and efficiency. Don't be the person who, just because they're smart, thinks they know it all. We can all do better, and to improve we need feedback.

Related: 4 Ways to Get Truly Honest Feedback From Employees

9. Wait until they feel 100% ready before taking a chance.

Perfect is the enemy of good enough, and if we wait until everything is perfect, then we will never achieve anything. Yes, we can always do a little bit more preparation, but one of the keys to success is starting.
Great opportunities don't come along every day, and if we wait until we feel we are ready we can miss them.

10. Underestimate the value of the not so smart. 

Just because someone lacks particular educational qualifications doesn't mean that their input should not be sought out, or ignored when offered. In many cases, experience is a much more valuable commodity than intelligence. It's great to learn from our mistakes, but it's much smarter to learn from those of others, so we can save time and money by avoiding making them ourselves.

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