Take a moment to consider this powerful quote by Marcus Aurelius Antonius: "The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts." Not only do I find it to be true, I believe it is the foundational driver of whether you're successful or not.
As a business coach, I see many clients suffering from self-sabotage, yet they are oblivious to it. It's sneaky and comes in many forms, but for the purposes of this article we're going to focus on two of the most common ways people get in the way of their success and happiness. They are:
- Not taking responsibility for their actions
- Choosing to be in the "victim" role--both personally and professionally
Many people are more comfortable in the "victim role" because they can blame everyone else for whatever is not working in their lives or business. And although placing blame on others for your own issues can be quite seductive (it gets you off the hook as far as doing any introspection), it can be more exhausting than simply being honest with yourself. Most important, the victim mentality can make it virtually impossible to realize significant progress . . . yet totally possible to experience consistent breakdowns in making progress within any aspect of your life.
And, no, I'm not referring to major emotional breakdowns requiring medication or hospitalization. I mean those consistent obstacles that get thrown at us all the time in business and life, and that cause us moments of overwhelming paralysis--typically due to self-doubt.
To effectively break through a personal, professional or emotional obstacle, the driving force behind it is taking responsibility for your actions and trusting yourself. Let's look at both of those drivers more closely:
Responsibility: You gain significant empowerment and freedom when you choose to shift your perspective from assigning blame to accepting responsibility. And although you may feel in control when assigning blame to others for challenges you face, the reality is that you are totally out of control. Why? You have given your power to someone else. And even though it may feel like a "relief" initially, it can manifest into more stress later.
You simply cannot resolve personal issues, and have breakthroughs, when the power is not your own. At the point of assigning blame and releasing all responsibility for challenges in your life, not only have you given all the power to others, your "destiny" becomes based on their next move and decisions--not yours.
Being able to shift your perspective to being someone who takes responsibility starts with self-trust.
Self-Trust: Self-trust is the foundation of our being. Lack of self-trust leads to self-doubt. Doubting yourself is a powerful force that can set you up for failure in anything you attempt. Why? Because you already assume that the decisions you make and actions you take probably aren't the right ones, and that they won't provide you with the results you desire.
Think of this in terms of two real-world scenarios:
- Scenario One: You want to make a career change because you're bored or very unhappy with your current occupation or business. If you lack self-trust, making a change could be clouded by self-defeating "doubt" questions like: Am I smart enough to do this? Can I afford to do this? What will my friends, family and peers think? What if they judge me for making this career change?
With those types of questions running through your brain, you can actually talk yourself out of making the career change before you even try. The result is being stuck in a career or running a business you no longer enjoy and wishing you were doing something else--yet never trying to make the change happen.
- Scenario Two: You don't have enough business and you're struggling. But have you really done the work to get more business, or do find yourself blaming the economy, the competition or other outside forces?
I hear clients complain often about lack of business. And when they tell me what their business development strategies have been prior to hiring me, I don't doubt they've been struggling. Posting a couple of blog posts, sending a few tweets here and there, creating a website, and occasionally going to networking events isn't enough. Yet they truly believe the "problem" is all about the economy or other circumstances, and all they want to do is vent about it vs. take action.
However, after we have some honest dialogue together, a perspective shift occurs. They soon realize they need to take responsibility for their lives and business, and they need to stop blaming others for their lack of success and happiness. They have to come up with an overall business development strategy. It can't be the occasional blog post or the odd networking event. Business development has to be planned and managed.
If you can relate to any of this, I suggest you take some time to ask yourself:
- Are there situations in my life where I choose to assign blame vs. take responsibility?
- How does assigning blame serve me when I'm trying to break through an obstacle?
- How can I build self-trust to foster consistent, positive breakthroughs?
- When I feel paralyzed by self-doubt, what can I do to create a breakthrough vs. a breakdown in making progress?
Your personal success and business success depend on you. You can have the best brand platform in the world, a terrific marketing strategy, have written an amazing book, or offer an amazing product or services, but none of these will get you where you want to go if the demons in your head constantly try to sell you garbage . . . and you willingly buy it.