5 Surprising Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Success

Everyone’s entitled to having a bad day every now and then. Yet, when a bad day has turned into a bad week, or maybe even a bad month, it’s time to pause and assess, before your leadership reputation is on the line. 

It is critical to be aware of the attitude and energy you exude to be effective and respected in leadership. During times of pressure and stress, the brain defaults to familiar behavior patterns, regardless if the behavior is helpful to the situation. These patterns may be destructive and undetectable until the consequences are blatantly obvious and alarming.

This is self-sabotage at its best, and here are some helpful cues to keep it from getting the best of you.

There are five common self-sabotaging identities that undermine and, in some cases,  hinder future opportunities and successes for some of the most talented executives and entrepreneurs.

The negative behaviors include:

  • Being a complainer. Constantly pointing out what’s going wrong in a situation prevents you from presenting yourself as a problem-solver and expert in the room.
  • Being defensive. Always having an explanation for your actions–even when they’re not working–prevents you from building trust with clients and team members.
  • Being hypercritical. If you’re finding a problem with every solution, you’ll never find a solution to the problem.
  • Being self-deprecating. If you underestimate your ability to handle problems from the start, you’ll hold yourself back from taking on tasks.
  • Being a fatalist. When we give power to the worst case scenario, we can also bring it to fruition and we forget about opportunities for success.

Most people identify with one primary self-sabotaging identity type, and some self-identify in multiple categories. 

Developing awareness of your sabotaging behavior identity is the first step in disrupting the destructive pattern. The next step is to adapt a positive behavior disruptor to replace the current behavior pattern. The hint is to assign a trigger word to the self-sabotaging behavior to activate the new behavior. The trigger word becomes the cue to the new response when the instinct is to begin the self-sabotage pattern.

“Self-doubt does more to sabotage individual potential than all external limitations put together.” – Brian Tracy

Trigger Words to Uplevel Your Success

  • To eliminate the complaining, think ELEVATE. Constant complaining and fixating on the hurdles quickly exacerbates a small problem into a larger problem. Leaders elevate the mindset of others when they reframe challenging circumstances and present possibilities. Elevating the viewpoint of the obstacle offers greater perspective and clarity on the issue and elicits greater morale in achieving a positive outcome.  
  • To stop being defensive, think QUESTION. Defensive behavior prevents clients and team members from feeling seen, heard and acknowledged. Asking a question like, “how did this circumstance impact you?” offers the opportunity to better understand the other perspective to achieve a mutually beneficial resolution.
  • To quit being hypercritical, think FORWARD. Finding a problem with every solution keeps you stuck in the problem, and questions your tenacity to find a solution. Instead of waiting for the perfect solution, commit to trying various solutions until the best possibility is uncovered.
  • To do away with self-deprecation, think EMBRACE. Clients and team members look to you for your unique gifts and inspiration as a leader. Embracing your brilliance means validating your natural talents and strengths so you approach any given problem with confidence. 
  • To defeat the fatalist, think RECALIBRATE. To avoid bringing a worst case scenario to life, envision your brain like a GPS. As each roadblock is detected, direct your thought process to create the detour toward the optimal destination. 

Posting the trigger words in places where you often look provides a visual reminder of the new behavior pattern. Places like – the wallpaper on your phone, a post-it on your computer screen, or hand written at the top of a legal pad are useful places to reinforce the changes you are making. 

Too many executives and entrepreneurs place more value on the amount of work they complete in pursuit of their goals, rather than placing value on the attitude and energy they exude in the process. They find the time to go above and beyond with demonstrating the quality of their work reinforcing the belief that hard work will earn great success. While there is no disputing that hard work is part of the equation, it is critical to recognize it, alone, will only get you so far.

Hard work married with mental strength is the dynamic duo protecting your success from self sabotaging behavior.



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