Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?

When I work with clients, I often notice two distinct types of individuals.

The first group consists of self-reliant clients who are eager to make breakthroughs. They want to change how they approach their job search and/or career advancement. They know what they are currently doing is not netting them the results they want. They celebrate having new tools and practicing using new methods.

If you are in this self-reliant group you don’t need to read any further. You’re on the road to success and congratulations.

Now I get to the second group of clients. Those who repeat the same procedures and processes, then wonder why things aren’t happening.

If you have an inkling that you might be in this second category, read on. You need to take a sharp 180-degree turn and retool your thinking.

Which of these statements describe the way you operate?

  • Avoid trying anything new, whether it’s a new job search website, social networking program, taking a Toastmasters meeting or enrolling in a computer refresher course
  • Never whole-heartedly give something a chance – says no, or that’s not for me, having given it only a “yes but” scrutiny
  • Makes excuses as to why things are not happening – the dog got sick, the house needed repairs, etc. as the justification for not moving ahead
  • Complain that things are not happening but take little or no action to get fresh results

So, do you recognize yourself…even a little bit?

When any of the above thought patterns arise, you don’t recognize them as self-defeating. They are so much a part of your modus operandi, your knee jerk reaction that you end up saying “no” before you even realize it. It’s an embedded cycle that’s hard to break.

That’s why it takes a leap of faith and discipline to move forward. Action outside your comfort zone is difficult, causing you to invoke one or another avoidance excuse. Making those all-important networking calls, for instance, gets deferred to another time. Or you have to have your car repaired, so you can’t possibly schedule a refresher computer class.

So, pick yourself up out of this victimhood mode, and realize that there is help at your fingertips. Most people want to help, especially those that care about you. And there’s a multitude of helpful avenues out there to pursue – online resources, in-person groups, professional coaches/counselors, family, friends, etc.

Having the courage to make a change can open new, better doors to opportunities you’d never have imagined before. Okay, so you may not hold the same title you did previously, or make as much money. On the plus side, you could experience a satisfaction that you never felt in your old career. One that provides you with a new sense of fulfillment that makes you welcome each day.

I’m reminded of a wonderful commencement speech that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University some years back. The points he chose to impart to the graduating class were: connect the dots and embrace change.

Connect the dots: Steve, who never graduated from college, and who dropped out during his first year, was unsure what he wanted to do. So he took courses that appealed to him. One of them was a calligraphy course that he fell in love with. Ten years later, as the creator of the first Macintosh computer, he was able to incorporate his love of type and fonts into the first computer model. That’s why Macintosh computers are renowned for excellent type and graphics, not to mention operational simplicity. A business model, once proven, that Microsoft copied.

Lesson learned: You can never anticipate how knowledge learned today can become an integral part of your future. You can’t connect the dots looking forward, but you can certainly connect them looking back. So take classes that interest you, try new experiences. Even if you don’t pursue that field as a living, they will enrich your knowledge and become part of what you can give the world.

Embrace change: Steve Jobs was fired after 10 years at Apple by the board of Directors. (Never does a good deed go unpunished). He was devastated and didn’t know what to do next. He realized he still loved computers and graphics and went onto create two new successful companies, NEXT and Pixar. The rest is history.

Lesson learned: When you have changed foisted upon you — i.e. a layoff, let it be the catalyst to search for what inspires you. Let that lead the way to your next career choice. As in Mr. Jobs’ case, it can put you on a new, an even more fulfilling, path.

Steve Jobs’ suggestions have a common thread: embracing change, and embarking on something new, puts happiness in your own hands. Repeating the same old same old is a dead end!

So, what are you waiting for? Take a deep breath and take the first step. You will be happy you did.

Dale Kurow, M.S., MCDP, is an author and a seasoned executive and career management coach with broad-based business experience. She has built her reputation by delivering just in time, reality based feedback and counseling to rising executives, helping them flourish at the next level.