Highly effective people aren’t that way by accident. They have learnt to master habits and behaviours to set themselves up to succeed. If you want to become more effective so that you can achieve your goals faster, easier and consistently, it is well worth studying the habits and behaviours that highly effective people have.

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4 things highly effective people never say

Things highly effective people don't sayHighly effective people aren’t that way by accident. They have learnt to master habits and behaviours to set themselves up to succeed.

If you want to become more effective so that you can achieve your goals faster, easier and consistently, it is well worth studying the habits and behaviours that highly effective people have.

You can find clues just by listening to the language that they use. It gives great insights into the mindset, habits and behaviours that are driving their actions.

Equally, you can learn a lot by what you never hear them say.

4 things highly effective people never say:

1. I don’t have enough time

Highly effective people know that getting the results they want doesn’t depend on time. It depends on them. They are masters at managing themselves.

They set strong boundaries to protect their time. They foster the habit of self discipline to stay focused on what is most important and to eliminate distractions.

Highly effective people have the same amount of time as you do. So not having enough time isn’t the problem. How you are managing yourself is the differentiating factor between whether you are effective or not. For more on this read Busting the “I don’t have enough time” myth.

2. If it wasn’t for ………… there wouldn’t be a problem (insert blame or excuse of your choice e.g. the economy, working too many hours, lack of support etc)

Highly effective people don’t blame or make excuses. They take 100% responsibility for everything that is going on in their lives. They know that blaming and making excuses solves nothing and would keep them stuck, so they don’t do it. They are solution focused, not problem focused.

3. I don’t know how

Highly effective people get that if they are creating change, trying something new or moving in new directions that they don’t know how to do it to start with. But they don’t focus on that. They focus on finding a way. They experiment. They look for what they need to learn. They are solution and outcome focused.

4. I failed

Highly effective people don’t view something not working out as failure. They get that sometimes we screw up. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes something doesn’t work as we had hoped.

They see these things as part of the process of creating better results. They get that success isn’t a linear path. When something doesn’t work they focus on learning the lesson, applying the learning, looking for solutions and then moving on.

Practical exercise

Check out some highly effective people that you admire. Observe what sorts of things you hear them saying and the sorts of things you never hear them saying. It will give you great insights into the mindset, habits and behaviour that make them highly effective.

Then, look at the things you say, or don’t say, for clues for how you might be sabotaging your own personal effectiveness and where you might need to upgrade your mindset, habits and behaviours.

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  • Great article!

    I just finished reviewing Larry Winget’s (the Pitbull of Personal Development®) latest book “Grow a Pair” and this is quite similar to the advice that he writes about.

    No more excuses and failure IS an option as that is the only way to grow and eventually succeed.

  • Hi Patti, I haven’t heard of Larry before or his book. Will check it out. Thanks.

  • I prefer his earlier book – Shut Up, Stop Whining and Get a Life! He’s not for the timid.


  • I gathered that just from the two titles you shared Patti!!!!!

  • Hi Ali,

    Very true, successful people don’t have as many excuses as those who lack success. What’s interesting is that we are all the same, but what makes one fail and the other succeed is that difference of ‘I can’ and ‘I can’t’ mentality.

    An example that comes to mind is when people find out I speak 3 languages, they often say, wow, I could never learn a foreign language. I really don’t get that. Why the heck not? We both have a functioning brain 🙂

  • Hi Sylviane, I agree that mindset is one of the biggest drivers between those that achieve their goals and those that don’t.

  • I agree, except for the “I failed.” I think people need to be able to say I failed and accept it, learn from it and then move on. This is especially important for leaders. So many times leaders refuse to admit that they’ve made a mistake. That leads to having their followers lie about the mistakes they make and that leads to all kinds of fear and confusion: people hiding things, no transparency, and no real accountability.


  • Ali Davies

    Anita, I think the key with the “I failed” thing is for it to be about a situation or event of some kind rather than make it about who we are as a person. All too often people label themselves a failure when something doesn’t work out. And as Zig Ziglar said “failure is an event, not a person.” Yes we should acknowledge the truth of a situation e.g. a mistake, a task failed etc, but important not to adopt it as a label of self.

  • Great observations and I whole heartedly agree! I’ll have a peek at thse books Patti recommened:)

  • Ali Davies

    Jennifer, I think keeping these things in our mind really helps with creating awareness of our own behaviour so that we can form new habits that serve us better.

  • I think you made some great points here! I enjoyed reading this.

  • Ali Davies

    Glad you enjoyed it Lisa.

  • Excellent reminders Ali! I think it is so important that we admit that the excuses and blame we use to hold ourselves back from our dreams is really only hurting ourselves rather than vindicating our mistakes. And I definitely agree about the “mistake” perspective. The only time I think any of us ever make a mistake is when we don’t learn from the experience. ~Kathy

  • Ali Davies

    Kathy, absolutely. I work on the basis of learn the lesson, apply the learning, move on!

  • What’s that old say? “Failure just isn’t an option.”

  • Hi Rena, I think of things going wrong as just lessons steering me in a smarter direction!

  • Great post. I really like the sayings “fail faster” and “fail forward.” Really trying to understand and incorporate those ideas has helped me to release perfectionism and the stigma of failure.

  • Leanne@crestingthehill

    I’m steering clear of as many negative assumptions as possible these days – they just drag you down or slow you down. Great post Ali.

  • That is a great thing to do Leanne. Makes a big difference.