The 6 most destructive ways people fail themselves every day
I work with talented and motivated people to feel good about thriving in a profession they are proud of. What I see is something else. Our successes, failures, and ways in which we position ourselves, have everything to do with what we believe of ourselves internally and how we choose to express those beliefs in externally.
There are two general culprits at play
- People tend to see outside circumstances as beyond their control and as absolute truths, causing disappointment and disempowerment.
- People tend to only focus on their external accomplishments, appearances, and validations, forgetting about their natural instincts, talents, or purpose as elements of who they are and why that matters in the world.
In reality, our inner experiences drive our outer worlds. And the vibe that gets created from this radiates out whether you want it or intend it to or not. It’s how others experience and ‘feel’ your brand. People lack the clarity of self-awareness, confidence, and courage to be who themselves. When people fail to understand themselves – the good, the messy, and the different – choosing to wear a persona that is misrepresenting. They (un)consciously let themselves down in their ability to thrive and be happy.
Here are 6 of the most damaging ways people fail hitting their potential everyday:
You don’t take the time to understand what you’re feeling, how you’re reacting, or what you want
Most of your day is spent chasing and doing that there’s not much time to pause and understand what’s going on inside. You’re overlooking your need to just BE and to understand your innate drivers. You’re missing the opportunity to gain insight around your emotions, actions, and desires. Instead energy depletes, distractions increase, and embarrassment sets in. What’s worse is that your communication approach often gets misinterpreted.
TIP: Notice if you turn to technology to deflect a sense of uncomfortable. That unease could actually be a sign of something you need to face. Start by watching your default behaviour AND what it says about you. Try putting aside 5 minutes at the end of the day to reflect on your actions. You don’t need to solve any world problems in those 5 minutes or beat yourself up over what you should have done. Focus instead on what triggered you, why, what you felt, and how you reacted. Do this for a week. In the following weeks, start to introduce this exercise right after an experience. Eventually, you’ll become skilled at doing it in the moment. The objective is to become intentional so that two things can happen. First, be in choice of how you handle a situation when triggered. Second, watch how it shifts the way you communicate with greater ease and flow.
You don’t know how to connect with what motivates you
A natural flow for many looks something like this – strive toward a goal, get the chance, achieve the goal, move on to the next thing, add the accomplishment to your resume and online profile, hit repeat. This routine behaviour creates a sense of accomplishment and feels comfortable. It may also generate feelings of relief that you’re on the right path. Until that one day you’re forced to stop in your tracks and it leaves you wondering how did I get to this point?
I met with a client going through a career transition (who, is also paraplegic) who was in utter dismay. She felt incapable of showcasing her skills and abilities without any labels. We got to talking about her most exciting moments, where she goes out of her way for others and what mattered to her. To her surprise, after an hour of conversation she had almost two pages of examples to connect with. One in particular related to a sky diving trip she took with friends the year before! She connected to what made her feel rather than feeling limited by her physical body. Once aligned with this renewed fire within, she started to live life based on whether an activity sparked that flame or distinguished it.
TIP: Motivation can come from the smallest of tasks. Never under estimate the power in what matters most to you and how that can speak to who you are. Grab a piece of paper and write down your motivation moments as they happen. In those times when you’re feeling down, pull out that piece of paper and remind yourself what matters and why.
You’ve never learned how to recognize and value your type of communication style
How you interact or position yourself in any given moment gets influenced by external pressures, social norms, gender expectations, or even your role level within an organization. You’ve grown up unintentionally interacting in a way that suits the circumstance, losing sight of your natural abilities. Too often you force the persona you believe the world wants from you. You go with what you know, because the uncertainty of doing it any other way is overwhelming.
So many people I work with are blind to their natural talents and at a loss in how to use them. They’ve taken the mindset that it’s worked so far so why change it. Yet, many of them remain unsatisfied and unhappy – despite their external success perception. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients to source what’s most compelling about them, to connect to that and use it more. When you can align with a trait that you don’t need to force AND works for you – it gives permission to use it more.
TIP: Make the time to explore how the outside world experiences you when you’re most compelling. In that moment, what’s instinctive for you is actually your differentiation point. I call that your vibe. We all have one and it differs from one person to the next. How do you sway a room of people toward a decision? What do people turn to you for? When the heat is on, do you take charge (or not)? When you become aware of your vibe and align with it, it can have a powerful and productive impact on others – without it being forced from you.
You train others how to engage with you
Staying silent, passive behaviour, tension, even responsiveness to emails afterhours and on weekends sends others a message. It tells them how to work with you. In fact, you’ve told them that they have the power position in the relationship. You’ll convince yourself of a story in which it makes this behaviour acceptable. I’ll lose my job, that big presentation is on Monday and we’re not done, who am I to speak up, that person creates tension, not me, etc. Sound familiar?
People want to be liked. They want to feel valued. When I see clients who’ve allowed others to create the rules in how to engage them, I invite them to explore how they’ve contributed to this ‘acceptable’ process.
TIP: A best practices here is to establish boundaries that shift the way in which you show up and contribute. Consider this – how does your natural instinct want you to engage? How does your vibe help to get the best out of others? What things trigger you to shut down, respond right away, or get your back up? Think of your answers as information to build criteria for yourself. Use this criteria to create your rules of engagement. By not having your criteria in place, what does this do for your brand?
You focus too much energy managing to other people’s perceptions and expectations
So much so that you don’t realize how amazing you are! Ease and flow is something you strive for. I get it. But when you compromise yourself by dimming down or dialing up a personality trait to keep harmonious, you’ve pretty much relinquished your power into someone else’s hands. You’re telling them that what they think has more value than what you do. Here’s a reality check. You’re not special (in their minds). They’re probably not even thinking about you every given moment of the day. What’s happened is that you’ve reinforced something in your own mind about the relationship. Consider for a moment that is feeling is you pointing you to an area you need to pay attention to.
We’re not taught to understand ourselves, to take ownership of our vibe and to put that out there for the world to see and experience. What if you let go of the judgement you think you’d get if you did own it. You deserve to be happy and have success – in ways that feel authentic and courageous for you.
TIP: Consider the impact you want to make in this world. If you don’t know what makes you special or how your vibe might empower others, how will you accomplish what your heart desires? The assumptions you hold of how you’re perceived by others is actually something you’re putting on yourself. Imagine for a moment that your holding up a metaphorical mirror. What are you seeing that you need to take ownership for rather than putting it on someone else? What’s possible if you repurposed that energy on you? If what you see scares you, it’s probably because that’s what makes you powerful!
You don’t understand what your brand stands for
This is a difficult one for many as you may have never considered yourself as having a brand. For companies, their brand speaks to their mission and values. For individuals, it speaks to purpose, authenticity, and benefit to working with you. It’s more than a list of competencies you’ve acquired over the years. It’s the why someone should hire you or do business with you. Think of your brand as your relationship and communication promise to your outside world. You’re telling people how your vibe will make their lives better. This is critical to know as you prepare for an interview, lobby for that promotion, pitch for business, or look to expand your social circle.
When introducing this concept to clients, I ask them to reflect on past interactions. How has their vibe attracted or alienated people? When have they been drawn to some people or felt indifferent to others? The essences of these example interactions are pointers to your vibe. If you’re an adventurous type, solution driven, someone who stands up for others, your brand would reflect that type of energy. Or, if in tense situations you bring a sense of playfulness that enables the room to reset and refocus on the matter from a different perspective, then that’s the energy of your brand. As you become familiar with your style, this can empower you to use your type of vibe in any situation. (Let’s also level set here. Your vibe isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok. In fact, knowing that and not feeling attached to having it work for everyone will also take pressure off).
TIP: Ask yourself what natural talents and skills do you bring (to your job, for your clients, or even how you’ve described yourself in your profile). What are you willing to take a stand for and what does that look like? How do you handle ambiguity, challenging moments, prioritizing? How do you recharge your batteries? What impact does engaging with you have on others? Consider asking others for input. What do they feel are your differentiation points, the impact you have, or your most compelling trait?