Overcoming Blocks to Success
By Dr. Peggy Marshall
All of us want to be successful-with both small and large goals. However along the way we may run into a variety of roadblocks which can get in our way. For the next several months we will be discussing those roadblocks and strategize about what we can do to remove them.
This month we are going to focus on the first roadblock- misalignment’s. Misalignment’s include; assumptions we are making about what is possible, attitudes and beliefs we have, biases we hold, convictions we have developed, and un-examined perceptions of self, others and the world. Misalignment’s can be also be viewed as incongruence in the ways that we think or ways that we behave which are out of sync with what we really want. For example, if you want to change a behavior but keep doing what you have always done, that is a misalignment.
One strategy for filtering out misalignment’s about assumptions we are making is to empower ourselves to be completely candid about our experiences. Byron Katie author of “Loving What Is” and Dr. Wayne Dyer author of “Excuses Be-Gone” encourage us to work at being brutally honest with ourselves. Asking if something is true can elicit a “yes” response from us, yet a follow-up “Is it really true?” might cause us to go deep enough to discover that there might be an element of error in our thinking! I had a client tell me that she has been using this exercise with her teenage daughter very successfully over the past several years. When her daughter complains about someone at school, my client asks her to verify that what she is saying is true and then absolutely true. By the second “absolutely true”, her daughter is typically able to re-frame her complaint and take ownership (at least partial) of the problem.
Byron Katie adds to the exercise with two more questions: “How do I feel when I think that way and how would I feel if I didn’t think that way?”. These are both telling questions. By the time we get to the third and fourth questions and are completely candid with ourselves, we can readily admit that we don’t like the way our thinking is making us feel and that we would feel more positive and engaged with our goals if we chose to think differently.
A second strategy is to rid out discrepancies in our every day lives. Ask yourself “where are the discrepancies in my life, i.e., where in my life am I saying one thing and doing another?” Do I want to improve my financial position yet give into impulsive purchases? Do I want a different job/career but do nothing about putting my resume together and exploring opportunities? Dr. Jim Loehr in “The Power of Story” tells us that an important aspect of success is being able to align our private voices with our public voices. When these two voices are not connected we lose momentum in accomplishing our goals. So the next time you are tempted to tell someone what you think they want to hear, remember that you lose valuable energy that could be directed into your own success.
A third strategy is to challenge ourselves to look beyond what we see on the surface. Sometimes it is just easier to deny that we have the potential to make change and therefore become more successful. We also can become so focused on taking action towards success that we miss opportunities-sometimes below the surface-that can lead us to greater success. Write down one goal. Then list all of the pathways which could lead to success in reaching that goal. Put the list aside for a day or two and then go back to it. Are there any new ideas that you have generated? This process is called reflection. We get so caught up in action that we don’t reflect. And…some of our best ideas will spring forth from reflection. Jack Canfield in “Principle of Success” recommends that we make a list of problems/challenges/goals that require resolution before going to bed as that allows our sub-conscious to bring ideas to us. I have had many clients who tell me their best ideas come to them when they are in the shower which is the living proof of this principle.
Another strategy is to remove those limiting beliefs we hold about ourselves. Do you believe that there isn’t enough time, you are too old, you aren’t smart enough, you don’t want to get hurt, or any other endless number of statements/excuses that block you from success? Do you buy into what your family, teacher, and friends have told you about yourself? You have the power to turn these self-limiting beliefs around. Instead of “there isn’t enough time in the day”, say “I can explore ways to maximize my time so that I can accomplish my goals.” Instead of telling yourself that you are too old, challenge yourself to admit that you will be the same age in a certain time whether you attempt your goal (and are successful) or not. Age is really not the factor!
Finally strive for complete honesty. Are there any areas that you are not being fully honest with yourself? Everyday we tell ourselves little “white lies” that on the surface don’t seem to be very harmful. However, years of these “white lies” build up causing us to believe things that are not true and creating obstacles to our success. I have a friend who is always trying to lose weight. When she eats, she continually underestimates the calories in her food and overestimates how many calories she burns when exercise. While this seems like an innocent activity, it leads her to be very unsuccessful in her attempts to lose weight. Another perspective is to ask yourself what your friends would tell you if they were being completely honest with you? An exercise that I use frequently with clients is to ask them to describe the situation from another perspective, possibly a good friend who knows you really well. With regards to your goals, would your friends say your behaviors are in alignment with what you want or would they point out the areas that need work?
Remember as adults we have the power to self-direct our lives, determine our purpose, pursue our dreams, use our talents and gifts wisely, and act despite our fears. We also have the ability to design environments and support systems that will lead to our greatest successes. Ask yourself if you are investing your energy into misalignment’s or into alignment with your dreams and goals.
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