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The Introspective Leader: Overcoming Self-Sabotage to Inspire Teams

Self-sabotaging behavior involves actions or thoughts that hinder long-term goals and well-being, often stemming from self-doubt or the fear of failure

It is more than procrastinating on a task you don’t want to do. It's the big actions or underlying thought patterns that are interfering with your ability to achieve great things. 

In personal or professional life, we can all relate to the feeling of having self-doubt. It’s that mean little voice inside your head that says, “You're not good enough.”

The good news is, if we can become aware of the thought patterns that are holding us back, then the thoughts lose power over us. We get to choose what thoughts inside our brain we want to listen to. We can regain control over how certain thoughts affect our well-being. 

As much as we are capable of being our biggest obstacle, we are also capable of being our biggest force of change. The key is in recognizing self-sabotage when it starts to take over and finding a way to zoom out and find the help and solutions you need. 

Self-sabotage is not a one-size-fits-all. It can come from the fear of failure, success, low self-esteem, and even uncertainty in the unknown. 

Self-sabotage shows up in: 

●      Procrastination

●      Negative self-talk

●      Perfectionism

●      Avoiding feedback 

●      Dwelling on past mistakes 

●      Having constant feelings of not being enough 

Even leaders in the highest positions can struggle with imposter syndrome and it’s okay to talk about it. In my career, I love to share what I’ve learned with the people I lead and the fellow leaders around me. Even the hard moments. Because it’s in the hard moments that we grow the most. 

Here are 3 ways to overcome self-sabotage and continue to inspire your teams. 

  1. Recognize 

Recognize the fear (or the hard, scary thing)… and do it anyway. 

Fear is inevitable when trying something you’ve never done before, but without it, how can we grow? 

When I became a commanding officer, it was a huge responsibility. I was in charge of 600+ people. I knew that I held everything in my hands, their careers, their safety, and their lives. I thought, “Why did they choose me? Can I really do this? What do I have to offer these people?”

I recognized that fear, but I didn’t let it take over. I had to acknowledge the little voice of self-doubt and recognize that it was there, but it wasn’t mine. I named it. 

I face the things that scare me by naming them. That’s how I shut down this “person” of fear and brought myself back into my body. 

Self-awareness is key. Catch the spiraling thoughts of self-doubt and find a way back into the present moment to get out of the thought pattern. Setting that example will teach teams to do the same.  

  1. Talk to your mentors 

Mentors bring more value than just career guidance, partnership, and networking. Mentors help build confidence. Having a mentor in your corner can go a long way to helping build confidence. They help you navigate through the barriers of self-doubt with small actionable steps. 

As a commanding officer, when I felt the fear of imposter syndrome, I went and talked to my mentors. They said, “If you’re not scared, then you’re not the right person for it.” They reminded me of the “why’s.” Why I was the right person for the job and why I was capable. 

Every person in a leadership position has likely had a mentor who has helped them get there. The network of people to support and remind you of what you've already achieved and of all that you CAN do. Of course, it’s going to be hard, but you can succeed.   

  1. Study, prepare, plan. 

I’ve seen some of the best leaders I know fail. Not because they were not capable, but because they were human. We all fail. I share the lessons I’ve learned from my failures and it helps the people I lead approach their obstacles with more understanding of all the forces at play. 

Great leaders aren’t born with rare traits that no other person has. They become great by putting themselves in situations where they have to learn, adapt, and grow. That's key to developing the tenacity to grow and to motivate and guide others. 

Ask yourself, “What challenges have people in my position faced? How can I do better?” Find the blind spots and put the time in to learn what you don’t already know. Then prepare and come up with a plan to execute. 

Leaders Need to Be Mindful of Their Own Self-Doubt. 

A team is always watching their leader. When leaders have doubts, teams begin to doubt themselves too. It's easy for a team to misunderstand a leader's self-doubts as a sign that their leader does not believe in them.

It is also very hard to move forward with a mindset of self-doubt. It can quickly become self-sabotage and can cause huge consequences if you’re not careful.

I try to approach my self-doubt and imposter syndrome by acknowledging it and realizing I am human. This allows me to take the action I need, for both me and my team.  All leaders go through this, but not all share it with their teams. Many leaders see it as a sign of weakness to be vulnerable, but it's how we connect, grow, and build trust with the people around us. 

Are you ready to be a leader that inspires your teams to achieve great things? Reach out and let’s talk!


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