“Let go of who you think you should be in order to be who you are. Be imperfect and have compassion for yourself. Connection is the result of authenticity.”
~ Brene Brown
If you ask most people want they want for their career, business or life, often the word Success comes up at some point. Indeed, many of us want to be successful. So what stops some people from being successful but not others? A whole host of things. It is often said that success leaves footprints. I do believe that there are certain patterns that successful people follow — taking action, being focused, making bold but calculated risks, finding a support system, and staying positive to name a few. But there are also some serious saboteurs that often get in the way of success. They cause (and are often caused by) doubt, fear, lack of confidence, and negativity. They come disguised as 3 blocks that try to stop you from moving forward and being successful.
1. The Perfection Trap
The Perfection Trap is what causes you to second guess yourself at every turn. It is often disguised as a strength (“I have such high standards.”), but in reality can be a manifestation of procrastination, lack of confidence, or fear of failure or success. The Perfection Trap is in some ways the Great Western disease: “I’ll be happy when I …” (fill in the blank!). Many people wait until everything is “perfect” to move forward with their ideas, insights, strategies, interests and passions. Unfortunately, the waiting game goes on and on because the stars are never perfectly aligned. In the meantime, what happens? Life (and often success and happiness!) pass you by.
Win Borden said, “If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.” Stop waiting until everything is perfect! Life your life now. Pursue your dreams, follow your passions, launch your business, apply for that promotion, ask that special someone out on date… whate ver it is. You probably have “enough” already under your belt to take a step in that direction. Remember, done is better than perfect. (For more on this topic, check out my article Done is Better Than Perfect at https://lisamontanaro.com/2012/03/16/done-is-better-than-perfect/).
2. The Comparison Trap
The Comparison Trap is often right there waiting to attack. It is the voice in your head that says, “I could never do that” as you look at others’ accomplishments, successes and happiness. It forces you to look outward for your definition of success. You look at others, measure yourself against them, and then think you are less than. When I work with a client, I implement a rule that he or she must follow: No negative self talk! You’d be surprised how difficult it is for many people to adhere to it. Words are powerful, and negative self talk always puts you in a losing position.
The world is filled with a sense of competition. Women tend to compare themselves to other women in so many areas: physical appearance, parenting, relationships, and business. Men tend to compare themselves based on material possessions, status, and money. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with everyone else! Use what others’ do as a model, sample or template, but, make it your own. Otherwise, you will just spin your wheels trying a little bit of everything, but mastering and enjoying nothing.
The problem with the Comparison Trap is that it is completely false. No one stands in your shoes. You are the only you. And the trouble with someone thinking they can get ahead of you is that you’re assuming that they can walk in your shoes. And this reminds me of something that the actress Judy Garland once said: “Be a first rate version of yourself, rather than be a second rate version of someone else.” An original is better than a copy every time.
3. The Impostor Syndrome
The toughest critic will often be you. There’s a theory called the Impostor Syndrome that many successful people suffer from. It’s where you feel like a fake even if you have the education, training and experience to be successful at what you do.
Jodie Foster has talked about it freely in some of her interviews. She said that every time she would go on a movie set, whether as an actress or a director as her career progressed, she felt like an impostor and was worried that she’d be “found out.” And this is coming from an accomplished performer since she was a child, and a celebrity by most people’s standards. But it doesn’t matter. When she looked in the mirror, she didn’t see that celebrity. She didn’t value herself the way others valued her.
We so often judge ourselves harshly because in our own minds, we aren’t quite there yet. We tend to focus on what we have not accomplished yet, what remains to be done, what goals we have not yet reached. Try to remind yourself of what you have already accomplished, how much you have already grown and changed, and the goals you have met. It is often on the journey to becoming who we are that the true growth takes place. The term authenticity is often used these days (some may say over-used). I think being authentic means taking ownership of your true value, including all that you bring to the table, while humbling yourself enough to admit that you still have some steps to take on your journey. That doesn’t make you an impostor. It makes you human.