Susan C Foster

Do You Ride the Brake?

– Posted in: career, Job Search, Leadership, Resumes, stress management

When I was learning to drive, I would keep one foot on the brake and one on the accelerator. Of course, that means I was often not driving smoothly and with purpose–I was constantly trying to do both at the same time. That came from inexperience.

Soon, I learned to accelerate, and then when I needed to come to a stop, use that same (right) foot to do so. That came from confidence.

I have clients who do the same thing in their career. They believe they are moving forward but are holding themselves back, almost at the same time.  There are a lot of ways to do this, and here are only a few:

Try to do everything.  Jeannie is a wonderful technical person, yet when she was promoted to Team Lead, she didn’t learn to delegate. “They don’t do it as good as I would,” she told me. My question to her: And then how will they learn? And how will you learn to lead, if you don’t begin?

Worry too much about promotion. John wanted to get promoted, yet in his office there was a policy that you had to have significant years of experience or have a Masters Degree.  Right or wrong, that was the culture. John wanted to spend his evenings playing softball. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and it’s important to have fun in your life.  At the same time he complained that he was being penalized because he didn’t have the degree, and because of his youth. My question to him:  How else can we figure out how to get the education you need? Eventually we figured out a great blend of education and exercise that he loved: he could be productive and advance, and still get the balance in life he needed. It took him a little longer, but it was worth it.

Hate their boss, hate their job, yet don’t look for a change.  Change is hard, especially job change. Tom spent a lot of time complaining about his boss and how boring his job was. When I suggested we make a plan to change that, he had a hundred reasons why he couldn’t: he liked the commute, he couldn’t find other work that was better, “everyone” has a bad boss, etc.  When I challenged him to examine each one of his stories, we discovered it was really fear of the unknown, which is a perfectly valid human emotion, but he was letting it hold him back. So we worked through those fears and made a plan to look for something better. Today he is much more fulfilled and he’s glad he did.

We all do it, and you may have many more examples. But with a little planning and awareness, we can change it.  Every time.

“Stop holding yourself back by worrying about what people would say if you were to encounter failure with your dreams. Have you forgotten that every great successful man was once a failure?”             ― Edmond Mbiaka


Where are you holding yourself back?


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