Businessman and Businesswoman --- Image by © Serge Kozak/Corbis

Businessman and Businesswoman --- Image by © Serge Kozak/Corbis

“Choose your friends wisely,” one of the many lessons we learn early on in life. How about “choose your habits wisely.” Did you know that associating with bad friends could be as harmful as having bad habits? They both limit your potential and render you less effective in your career, personal, and family life. In this article I am going to discuss 3 habits that successful people avoid at any cost. Eliminating those negative habits from your life will help you optimize your resources and help you better manage your life. Let’s start with:

1. Negativity: There are two kinds, internal and external negativity.

- Internal negativity: When you are alone, with no one to impress, how do you talk to yourself and what do you see? Do you see limitations, do you see obstacles, do you see problems, do you see scarcity most of the time in your life? If you answered yes to any of the above visions then you have a problem. You cannot succeed in life when all you see around you is deficiency or problems. People who succeed in life see possibilities; they see opportunities wherever they are and in whatever circumstances they find themselves in. They work hard to bring those possibilities to life, while those who are not successful work to avoid problems. Successful people start with something and unsuccessful ones start with a deficit. They (unsuccessful people) are always blaming their parents for not giving them this or that; they blame their employers for treating them this or that way; they blame history for making this or that happen. Although some of those issues may be valid, they should not be the focal point of our life. You can still be productive even when you didn’t have a good start in life. It is all about your perspective.

When you focus on what is missing in your life long enough you start believing that the world is meant to be that way and as a consequence you stop dreaming big, you fail to see possibilities around you. You start settling for mediocrity, you lower your standards because you believe that that is all you can get in life.

- External negativity works the same way, except that the dialogue is with other people. These are people you admire such as your parents, your friends, your teachers, community leaders, and occasionally your enemies… They sometimes say things about you that you do not endorse, but since you admire or respect them you assume that they have monopoly of wisdom. You allow them to tell you what you can and what you cannot do. What they say becomes more important than what you believe. While it is good to pay attention to other people’s advice, it is important to exercise discernment when they are giving you negative feedback. You need to ask: What is the motive behind their message? Is the person animated by fear, is he/she jealous, is he/she knowledgeable on the subject? Is the person looking to exert his or her power over you? Is the person insecure? All these are questions you need to ask when someone sends a limiting or negative message your way. Because once you believe their message, you create space for it in your belief system and give it some power to control how you perceive things around you. The problem most of the time is not what people tell you, it is how you interpret what you hear or how you select what to keep. I like how Shannon Alder says it in the following quote; “The battle you are going through is not fueled by the words or actions of others; it is fueled by the mind that gives it importance.” Your beliefs can prevent you to see the full spectrum of things that you are capable of doing. Negative beliefs can destroy your creativity; they can limit your ability to innovate. Negativity causes you to lose your passion because it kills your inner child. It kills that part of you that is willing to try new things; it kills that part that endures falls and long hours of practice. When that part of you is gone you cannot create, you cannot innovate, you cannot do anything that can revolutionize life around you. Negativity therefore must be avoided at any cost.

2. Laziness: Results create more results and the lack thereof causes stagnation and death. How can you be motivated to do something if you have never accomplished anything worthwhile in life? How can you convince people that you are capable of doing something when you have nothing to show for it? People will mostly trust you when you can show them something tangible or when others can confirm that you are truly capable of doing what you claim you can do. So, if you spend most of your time at home doing nothing, or not doing enough of what you are required to do, then when time comes for you to prove your capabilities, you will have nothing to speak for you. “Folks who never do any more than they get paid for, never get paid for any more than they do” - Elbert Hubbard. Successful people work wholeheartedly; they go the extra mile. They understand that temporary discomfort won’t kill them; it will instead build their podium. If you are in the habit of choosing to do what is easy and comfortable, you may need to think twice because success does not come to those who like the easy and comfortable but those who are diligent and passionate in everything they do.

3. Lack of a clear sense of direction: Leading a successful life is like running a 3500 miles race. In that kind of race you go through different terrains: You run through deserts, mountains, rocks, snow, rain etc. You run until nightfall when you cannot see anything, you run in the cold, you run in the heat until your body can’t take it anymore. Despite all that pain, despite the discomfort that you body endures, your mind somehow convinces you that yes, you can do it. Those who know where they are going and why they are going there find it easy to press past the temporary discomfort of the body. However, those who have no sense of direction lose their passion easily. They come up with all kinds of reasons why they should stop. The problem is that they live with a perpetual sense of regret because they ask themselves, “What could have happened if I had continued and finished the race”? Sometimes however, they pose this question when it is too late, when nothing can be done to change their situation. “The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places.” ~Author Unknown

When you are at the crossroad between pursuing what is possible and keeping the status quo, it is easy to listen to the latter, because it is the voice of what is familiar, the voice of what is comfortable. However, the status quo will only perpetuate itself. But, when you know where you are going and understand why you are going there, you somehow find energy to press past your discomfort and pursue what is possible. You still feel the pain, you still feel the body aches, but one way or another you find the power to help you keep on pressing forward.

When you have a clear sense of direction you are able to press forward even where you don’t see a path. You are willing to create trails, while those who lack a clear sense of direction end their journey where their paved road ends.

Choosing good habits is as important as planning your life. You must always be seeking to develop new and better habits while weeding out all the negative and destructive ones.



  1. Learn to become a world citizen: To succeed in the post-cubicle work environment you must be ready and willing to do business with people and cultures you have never interacted with before. That can be daunting to some. However, whether we like it or not, it is the reality of our future world. It is therefore critical to learn to become comfortable with that concept. Do not be limited by geographic boundaries but allow yourself to expand as far as your brain and heart are able to take you.
  2. Become comfortable and flexible when dealing with new information and new realities: Not too long ago my wife and I were grocery shopping at Vons; we needed to buy cashews. I told her that cashews are less expensive at Henry’s. I knew that that store is now called Sprouts, but did not want to use the new name. Henry’s was a name that I was used to for so many years. However, since they changed the name I refused to embrace that new name. I was surprised when a few minutes later this man walked to us and said, “ I heard you talk about Henry’s, is it the grocery store that you were referring to? I think it is now called Sprouts.” This is just one example of how we may remain attached to the past and fail to embrace new realities unfolding in our society. The post cubicle era will require people who are flexible to change and are ready to incorporate those new realities in their everyday life (of course if those changes are good.)
  3. Become a perpetual learner: In today’s work environment employers are expected to train their employees. In the post cubicle era, however, it will be the worker’s responsibility to develop his skills and keep them up to date in order for him to stay competitive. The post cubicle will be an era of inventors; creators; free lancers who do not need supervision to get the job done. You can see what kind of environment this will be. Workers will need to take classes, attend workshops and seminars, watch educational videos and read books and blogs to stay up to date. If you have not started, make it your goal to start tomorrow (literally).
  4. Develop your skills in one particular subject and become an expert in it: whether it is custodial work, whether it is computer engineering, whether is food recipe creation… whatever it is that you decide to do, make sure you are the expert in that subject. Develop the mindset of Akeem in the movie Coming to America, “when you think of (put your field of expertize), think (put your name). That is how you should want people to think about you. And that mindset is in line with the post cubicle work environment.
  5. Take full responsibility for your actions and take ownership of your results: You cannot blame people or circumstances for what happened or what did not happen. All you need to do is continue to do what is required and do not give up until you succeed, unless you are on a dead end street.
  6. Think global and act global: people who operate from this mindset do not think in terms of us vs. them. They take a holistic view of the world. “Their problems are my problems” that is how they see things and in doing so they are able to touch lives in places where they have never been or even places where they will never be in their life. These are true citizens of the world.


By Mucyo Balinda


Whether you are talking about the 15th or 19th or 20th century worker the role of a worker in society is to use his/her skills to produce goods and/or services to meet needs in his/her community. Each century however, changes how and what the worker produces. Before the 1st industrial revolution the worker used his hands or the animal power to produce crops and livestock. When the industrial revolution came the worker used machines to produce goods (cars, soaps, furniture…) The introduction of machines dramatically changed how much we produced and how long it took to produce it. Thus becoming a major factor in the progress that we have achieved in our world today. In this article we give particular attention to the 21st century because unlike those centuries before it, the methods of production are rapidly changing at a pace never before experienced, therefore upsetting the structure and nature of the work environment and of work itself. Given this rapid change in the work environment, the worker of the 21st century cannot continue to do things the old way and expect to be successful in this new work environment. He/she needs to develop new ways of defining and approaching work in order to stay competitive in the modern job market. I have shared 6 traits that the modern worker needs to have in order to be successful in this high speed and fast changing work environment of the 21st century:

Autonomy: In order to be successful in the 21st century work environment workers need to be comfortable working independently as they are expected to have high levels of proficiency in their field of expertise. Generalists have no place in the 21st century’s workforce. What one knows, he/she must know it very well and establish him or herself as an authority in that field. As for professional development, workers are responsible for their own professional development. It is therefore be very important for workers to continue sharpening their saw in order for them to stay in the game. Workers need to look for courses, conferences, seminars, and other training programs to help them stay up to date in their field.
Flexibility: This environment has a lot of unpredictable. Workers need to be very flexible to new changes, be willing to incorporate them in their practices, while looking to stay ahead of the market trends.
Confidence: The 21st century workplace is a tough environment for people who rely on the approval of a supervisor to feel that they are doing a good job. Workers in this environment need to believe in their abilities and trust that they can get things done regardless of what people think and/or say.
Integrity: With autonomy and flexibility comes high levels of accountability and scrutiny. Due to the fact that employers do not have direct control of the workers daily work, they focus their investment in developing tools that can catch shortcuts easily and quickly. Those with high levels of integrity will survive while those with questionable integrity will lose opportunities in the workplace.
Desire to Innovate: The faster workers are at obtaining new information, analyzing it, and adapting it to current realities will determine the degree of their success.
Ability to think fast: Since change happens fast, the worker needs to think even faster, otherwise he will produce products that are no longer needed.


Watering Plants in an Office --- Image by © Ed Snowshoe/Corbis

Watering Plants in an Office — Image by © Ed Snowshoe/Corbis

Are we experiencing a cultural revolution or a cultural decadence in our society today? It seems like all the things that we used to consider as pillars of our society are no longer fulfilling this role as new structures and rules are emerging changing how we live our day-to-day lives. From education to retirement all the rules are being rewritten. We are witnessing real classrooms being replaced by virtual ones. We are watching high speed and efficiency decimate the structure of chain of command and seniority in the workplace. What is more surprising and scary is to see how things like social security and pension are slowly and progressively becoming obsolete. Our cultural treasures are becoming endangered species and the most endangered is the cubicle, which is at the brink of extinction.

For many years the cubicle held a very important place in our society. It was a place where great ideas were birthed; knots were tied in the cubicle; children were born and raised in the cubicle; they attended and graduated college in the cubicle. Retirement also came from there. In short the cubicle was a place of safety; it was a place where people made a living. However, that safety is fleeting like vapor, leaving behind a bleak future for those who depended on it.

Should this be a reason to worry or an opportunity for us to work creatively as we seek to position ourselves ahead of the future trends that are still unclear as to what their final shape will look like? It is quite frightening when we read reports telling us that “…two of New Jersey’s largest public employee pensions will run out of money and exhaust their underlying assets within ten years.” – Adam Shapiro, Fox Business, December 2014. It is even worse when we learn that “Social Security’s funds which have been built up over the past 30 years with surplus payroll taxes, will run dry in 2033 unless Congress acts.” –Stephen Ohlemacher, Huffpost, 2012. All these issues are a direct attack to the cubicle. How will the cubicle survive when its pillars are collapsing? And what will its alternative be?

Whether we like it or not, the cubicle is going to disappear. However that process is not going to complete its course overnight. The cubicle will still be here for at least another 10 to 15 years. One question remains and it is, how are we going to fulfill the promises of the cubicle to those who occupied it for many years? Every report we look at points us to Chicago, Charleston, Omaha, Portland, Little Rock, Wilmington, Boston, Atlanta, Manchester, New Orleans… these are the top 10 cities with the lowest percentage of funding for pension liabilities in the country. –Coming Pension Meltdown: The 10 Most Troubled City Systems, by Jennifer Hickey of Newsmax, November, 2013.
The picture does not look good. We need not to slumber. The time has come for this generation to sit down and engage in serious discussions as to what the successor of the cubicle will be and to explain what its pillars are going to be. It is one thing to have information, yet another to analyze that information, combine it with current realities to help position oneself ahead of the market trends. That is exactly what we need to do as a society.

Many changes are going to take place in our society in the near future, including the extinction of the cubicle. Old social and economic structures will have to be dismantled, some old rules will have to be rewritten and the process has begun. The question is, are you preparing yourself to be a player in that new environment? Or are you sitting idly thinking that the current situation is only temporary and that things will normalize.

Written By Mucyo Balinda

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