Aside from the absence of a defined personal brand, what do I think is the biggest way to sabotage a growing career? Negative self-talk — Our perpetual need to talk ourselves out of believing we are as good as others tell us we are or as potentially impactful as we dream we could be.
Recently, I wrote an article for Entrepreneur entitled, “Are you SHOULD-ing all over your career?” This quote struck a chord with many of my readers:
“I can control the tapes that play in my head: There is not, in fact, a little person in my brain or on my shoulder reciting this negative self-talk to me. I have the choice to let myself be limited by the beliefs I accept about my choices, opportunities and where I want to take my life and career. I can choose what I should do or I can do what I believe is in my best interest, based on my values, situation and goals.”
Professionals from all walks of business admitted to sabotaging their careers and their success by being their own worst advocate and cheerleader.
I hear many professionals – from entry level to the most senior level executives – self-talk their way out of success. Today, I coached a client who said the reason she doubted she’d ever achieve the personal brand we developed is because, “I don’t believe in myself enough. I have this constant pattern of failure.” By repeating that message to herself, it’s not surprising that she hits roadblocks in her career.
Here’s another example. My client was getting ready to deliver an important speech in front of a very large group at a tradeshow. He kept repeating, “I know what to say… I’m just so nervous!” to which I replied, “I bet you are feeling all sorts of energy right now. But, the more you tell yourself that you’re nervous, the more you will interfere with delivering your message.” Instead, I asked him to replace the word “nervous” with “excited.” It sounded corny, sure, but it worked. His physical chemistry of adrenaline was still present, but the narrative changed, and so did his approach. He ended up delivering the speech with authenticity and passion, instead of clumsiness and anxiousness.
Self-talk is a critical part of how we define ourselves (to ourselves) and drives the perception we want others to have of us. If I tell myself I’m confident, friendly, and approachable, then that is how I will show up to others. Instead, if I reinforce that I am worthless, unsuccessful, and insecure, others will see that in me.
Sound fishy? It works! Try changing the narrative and see how your energy and what you attract changes. The 2006 book (and then the 2007 movie), The Secret, shared: “Every time you look inside your mail expecting to see a bill, guess what? It’ll be there. Each day you go out dreading the bill, you’re never expecting anything great, you’re thinking about debt, you’re expecting debt.” In other words, what you believe and anticipate is what will come to you.
Instead of telling yourself “There’s no way I’ll get that job/promotion/date…” try “I’m focused, valuable, and optimistic. This meeting will go exactly how it should.” This shifts the responsibility for the outcome to what’s in your best interest and leaves your dignity in tact if the outcome is not as you anticipated.
You can’t control other people or their behavior. But you can control your thoughts and behavior. Self-talk which creates more positive outcome is a key part of building the environment in which you are destined to succeed!