External forces can sometimes impact us in ways that are, at best, pitiable and, at worst, cruel. But virtually nothing can compare to the damage that is wreaked on our careers-not to mention our personal lives-by our own efforts. Negative self-talk, coupled with harmful comments and actions within full view of our colleagues and superiors, combine to make us the monsters that destroy our own potential to achieve.
“If a true or false statement is repeated over time, we begin to believe it and find ourselves in a ‘rut,'” writes D. Richard Bellamy in his book, 12 Secrets for Manifesting Your Vision, Inspiration and Purpose (Phi Publications, $17.95). “This is how we begin to believe our exaggerations and minimizations, our lies.”
Fortunately, you can get back in your “right mind” and cure what ails your career success: you. Now that you are familiar with the culprits that hinder you from achieving excellence at work (see “Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?” Motivation, April 2000), it’s time for you to learn how to exorcise them from your life once and for all. Bob Wall, clinical psychologist, discusses these points in his book, Working Relationships: The Simple Truth About Getting Along With
Friends and Foes at Work (Davies-Black Publishing, $20.95):
- Culprit #1: An unclear view of ourselves. Solution: Learn how to take a step back and look at yourself-your strengths and weaknesses-from a more objective point of view. Seek the input of those you work with and listen to their assessments without becoming defensive. From there, determine which areas need improvement, then make the necessary changes.
- Culprit #2: Our blindness to the impact we have on those around us. Solution: Seek out the opinions of all those your behavior affects directly, 360-degree feedback style.
- Writes Wall, “It is easy to discount [the] perception [of one person] as biased. When I receive the same feedback from an entire group, I am much more likely to take the feedback seriously.”
- Culprit #3: Flawed personal logic. Solution: Strive to become more conscious of the fact that just because something makes sense to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean it makes sense to anyone else. You’ll know when this is happening because others will let you know that they don’t understand where you’re coming from. Patiently re-explain your point of view, as many times as necessary, until they do.
- Culprit #4: The strong pull of our personal history. Solution: “Focus first on what it takes to build strong, productive professional relationships,” Wall writes. You know that in order to be a great team player, your thinking must shift to what’s good for everyone-including you. Of course, your past will always influence your decisions to some degree. But you’ll be less likely to revert to tactics that will undermine the success of the team-and you.