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Are You Sabotaging Your Own Career?

Several of us were talking this morning about the frustrations of waiting for someone to do their job. I see it time and time again yet still find it surprising that some people just don’t realize how damaging some actions can be to a career, a reputation, and a personal brand within your industry.

These five simple actions are why you aren’t getting ahead:

  • Being late or a no-show: Don’t make someone else wait to do their job because you haven’t done yours. 
  • Not returning calls or email: When you ignore people or wait to reply, you are saying "your business is just not that important to me."
  • Doing just enough to get by: As my father used to say "If you are going to do a half-ass job, don’t do it at all." 
  • Complaining or assigning blame: Blah, blah, blah. No one cares. Really. They don’t care. You are wasting my time, or someone else's. 
  • Never saying thank you: This simplest of actions is the one most often forgotten. Appreciation is the most powerful tool you have. Use it.

Any one of the above actions can be detrimental to your career and can cause a client or customer to move on to someone else. Two or more? I think I see your problem.  

Are you guilty of any, some, or all of the above—and what others do you think should be added to the list? Change your ways today and you’ll change your career and your life.

It is that simple.

Dayna Steele is a business success speaker, marketing strategist, and author of the forthcoming book "101 Ways to Rock Your World: Everyday Activities for Success Every Day."  Follow her on Twitter @daynasteele or visit her website at She is habitually early.

[Image: Flickr user Simao Mata]

Add New Comment


  • Joseph Perello

    Is this article serious? Please tell us something we didn't learn from our parents or from our first job in high school. I'm expecting more from a publisher like Fast Company, whom I've come to rely on for progressive and uncommon knowledge.

  • Dayna Steele


    Many forget the basics each and every day - they can't all be perfect like you and me....Dayna

  • Diana Davidson

    There are 3 omissions underlying the points raised: 
    1. Courtesy towards others.
    2. Delivery on agreed commitments. 
    3. Professionalism. 
    When all 3 are present, they instil mutual respect, trust and achievement of shared objectives. 

  • tbrophwg

    When is it O.K. to complain about your co-workers not doing their jobs and exhibiting all of the traits listed above?

  • Natalia Stefanova

    I think it is ok to "complain" when we offer a constructive solution to the complaint. That's when our own commitment to improving the situation shines through and empowers us. Otherwise, we are wasting ours and everyone else's time and energy.

  • Tatiana

    I think it would be okay to complain about coworkers lack of ability to perform the job if its not first occurance, previosly discussed it with coworker to see how you can help them, and if it effects your department productivity dirrectly or in small bussiness if it wffects your performance directly.
    As, for making your coworker say thank you, you just have to lead the way. Demonstrate it. Be the leader even if do not have official shift/deparmtnet mangement title.

  • Stephen P Brown

    Another way to sabotage a career: Actually turn good business down due to an array of fears and anxieties, despite competency.

  • Tatiana

    That is so, true. This best way to resove this is to offer to mentor the person or agree/offer to be an advisor in the project. Most people I know will either gladly help or find someone who can mentor.