Education

Your own worst enemy: Five tips to avoid self-destructing

Why is it that many great performers self destruct? In this article, business life coach John M McKee answers the question and provides five tips to ensure you don't let the same thing derail your success and satisfaction.
 "I can't stop the noise in my head. Not sleeping well and finding it hard to focus. What can I do about this?"

Those comments were from a client who is the city manager of a mid-sized city in Canada. He's a successful guy, a consistently high performer; gets great reviews on the job front, and his family life is solid. But he suffers with an "inner voice" that's constantly disappointed and critical of him.

Perhaps you know people like him. Maybe you're like him yourself. Ever find yourself unable to sleep because your head is too busy? Maybe second-guessing yourself or full of negative self talk? You probably know what I mean, self feedback like:

- "why didn't you do better?"

- "when will you FINALLY learn to do that right?"

- "face it -- you're lucky to have gone this far"

- "sooner or later, (s)he will discover who you really are..."

In my experience, this issue is fairly common. And it's insidious. It gets worse with time, unless it's dealt with head-on. Because the problem rarely goes away on its own, it can derail both one's career and one's personal life if you don't address it. Otherwise it will prevent you from enjoying whatever success you've earned.

Negative self talk -- or past voices from others in your life (parents are often cited) -- can keep you from enjoying good rest. Just as important, this hassle can also keep you from moving ahead with your career. It becomes performance limiting. On the personal front, it certainly prevents you from having a positive life experience, one where we're thankful and generous.

Here are 5 things I recommend if you're suffering with this:

1. Recognize this for what it is. It's one thing to review the day while you're lying in bed, something entirely different when you're allowing negative self-talk.

2. Course correct. When you catch yourself saying negative things, try to reframe them into positives. For example, rather than: " Why do I keep screwing up on...?" try something more like: "For greater success I'm going to be more conscious of ..."

3. Understand that what "was" isn't always what "is".  Just because Dad said you'd never be a great player, doesn't mean he was -- or still is -- right. You're a grown-up; don't let old recordings hold you back.

4. Track your successes. Write down 10 things that if you did each day would make you feel great. These can be personal ("tell hubby I care about him"), professional ("finish project on time"), or financial ("save money by not going out for lunch").

5. Find a success partner. One of the most frequent reasons people cite for using a coach is to hold them accountable. Use a friend or colleague in this role; share your successes and misses with her or him.

The reality is that many high achievers suffer from busy minds or troubling self-images. By way of example, think of that golfer who is the best in his field and yet failed personally.

Now, go give yourself a GOOD talking-to....

John

Leadership Coach

About

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

11 comments
bdulac
bdulac

This is great advise for anyone who questions themselves.

JackOfAllTech
JackOfAllTech

At the end of the day (or night in my case), I go over the day with God: thanking Him for helping me do right and asking forgiveness for the things I did wrong - then I let it all go and sleep like a log. Am I perfect? Of course not. I try my best but I don't wallow in my shortcomings. The Bible says that God will give perfect peace to those whose minds are anchored on Him.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Are a wild goose chase. If I institute them for how I am, I deserve all the bad-mouthing and loss of sleep I can possibly manage, for that is how I am -- my own worst enemy.

mafergus
mafergus

Like making the right choice then fretting over it. I think I would add, have faith in your core values and write them down.

CareerCoach
CareerCoach

Much research on this subject. It often ties together performance with personal feelings.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Comes, that, from the rankest heathen you may ever be pleased -- I hope -- to know.

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

Balance. This is a major theory of mine. The issue of self worht is no different. You need to be honest about your short comings but you shouldn't beat yourslef up. I like the way the article looked at it. Instead of saying "Man I really messed up," say "What did I do wrong and how can I do it correctly the next time."

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

I hate to say it but I would definitely be guilty of negative self talk. The other factor that comes into account is that if you are like most adults that haven't lived their entire life in a cave, you have failed at something at some point in your life. These failures often time will come back to haunt you when it comes to negative self talk. I spend a lot of time "talking myself down" in the sense that I know logically, I have made more good choices than bad but I still beat myself up when the bad choices that I have made affect the ones that I love like my wife and kids.

dcolbert
dcolbert

The thing I dig about the Tao is that it is an ancient "spiritual" manuscript that perfectly defines a modern scientific principle that modern, western scientists love patting themselves on the back for coming up with: "every action has an equal and opposite reaction". The Taoists even came up with a nifty little logo to describe this principle. Talk about corporate branding. These guys make Intel and Apple look like rank amateurs. Yup, balance is good... but I agree with Santee... the self is often the biggest obstacle in one's way.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Were I to found self on these...these slimmest of excuses for being, then to sugar-coat inevitable self-loathing by reframing into positives, would be to go completely bonkers.

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

"the self is often the biggest obstacle in one's way." I think it is easy to blame others for your failure but generally you are to balme for your own shortcomings. And it is when you deal with that concept in a productive way that you really can change for the better.