Most people enjoy lists. From Letterman’s top 10 to websites like listverse and list.ly that have turned the creation of lists into a business model—lists are everywhere. The ubiquity of lists, especially numbered lists, has even resulted in parodies of list-making. Consider, XKCD’s stab at rewriting major 20th century headlines to get more clicks, by turning many of them into lists (e.g. 1920 – 17 Things That Will Be Outlawed Now That Women Can Vote!)
Our apparent fondness for lists has also led researchers to investigate this phenomenon, with some interesting results. Not only do we like numbered lists because of the way they organize information and cut through chaos, we also have an inherent bias toward “top 10” lists.
All that aside, I came across this list from the Canadian Management Centre as part of a leadership development course and—even though it’s neither numbered nor “top 10”— thought it worth sharing.
The worst things human beings can do to themselves:
- Assume that the cause of loneliness, fear or unhappiness can be found outside oneself.
- Let unhappiness become a habit.
- Deceive oneself about oneself.
- Compromise values, beliefs, integrity.
- Permit one’s sense of self-worth to be undermined.
- Avoid all risk at work and personally.
- Indulge in boredom.
- Be rigid. Hold fast to opinions, attitudes, beliefs, refusing to even think of change.
- Put off living. Wait until tomorrow to do things that matter.
- Ignore one’s physical condition. Overeat, smoke, drink too much, and refuse to exercise.
- Hold emotions in, refusing to discuss problems. Be an ostrich about difficulties in relationships.
- Adhere to or perpetuate stereotypes (gender, race, etc.)
- Take the people you love for granted, failing to acknowledge, reach out and connect.
- Be cynical, accepting only what can be seen and proven.
- Trust no one.
- Pass on every bit of gossip you hear.
- Envy others and resent their success.
- Throw cold water on the joy of others.
- Refuse to accept anything from anyone.
- Complain about everything but do nothing constructive to solve problems.
- Refuse to accept people as they are.
- Judge others harshly.
- Expect people to know your telepathically.
- Indulge in self-pity.
- Assume that your truth is the only truth.
Most of us instinctively know that the behaviors and habits described above are self-destructive. But do we remember that when were tired or taxed to our limits? Since lists have come to permeate our lives (and our brains seems to like them), prominently posting this “not to do list” in our line of sight just might serve as the reminder we need to avoid being our own worst enemy.