#SessionConfessions: You Need To Think About What Is Holding You Back From What You Need?

Leadership Lesson: You can’t be the best version of yourself while doing the same things you’ve always done and expecting a different result. Don’t be insane.

In talking to clients in coaching sessions, when it comes to development and improvement of any kind, there are so many reasons we (yes, “we”) don’t do what we should do — even more, why we don’t stop doing what we shouldn’t.

Whether by conscious or subconscious choice, we tend to err on the side of caution, not going beyond the bounds of what we know and where we exist, playing things relatively safe in our lives and work.

And regardless of the environment in which each of us finds ourselves — no matter the organization, group, industry, and dynamic — there always seems to be that common theme found: We tend not to do enough for ourselves to get better.

We put things off. We forgo desires. We forget about goals. We give up on finding a deep(er) satisfaction.

And that all can lead most of us to feeling not quite complete or fulfilled, going through the motions, reacting to what’s going on around us, accepting what we’re handed and ceding to circumstance.

Because of that, we all need constant reminders that we need to seek out what we require for our own health, sanity, and satisfaction. This is a message I try to infuse across my client work, blog posts, and social media. And it bears repeating. Constantly.

So why do we need those constant reminders? Why do we hold ourselves back like that?

Is it Fear? Complacency? Distraction? Tradition?

Let’s break down each.


Are we afraid to step out of our comfort zone? Do we prefer what is set, safe, and secure?

Because of that fear, we don’t want to take chances on things that, although they may make us our happiest selves, come with risks.

And the fear isn’t really about the process or work but more about how others’ perception of us will change based on the outcome. Because of that fear of what others think, we’re heavily programmed to not stray from those around us, to not stand out or be different. We paint up this vision, borne out of fear of failure, where if we don’t succeed people will what — laugh at us, not take us seriously, forget us?

For most of us, society has programmed us to have that fear be our default mindset.

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It’s amazing we think like that, isn’t it? That we can’t try something because of how others might react, or how we might look. Instead of trying to go for what we can actually work toward (through what we can actually control — our effort), we stop ourselves because of something we perceive or imagine.


Related: To The Future Leaders: Face Your Weaknesses And Fears


Are we just happy with what we have? Is what we have enough, even though others may believe we’re capable of more?

There’s nothing wrong with this.

The key point here is to make sure that we’re aware of where we stand, where we can go, and the options to get there. Once all of that is out in the open and has been considered, if someone says No, I’d rather just keep doing what I’m doing, more power to them. I say more power to them because they’ve considered what other avenues exist for them to move forward, and have made their decision about what they want.

There are no right or wrong decisions when it comes to ambition. As long as someone has taken into account their options and decided what they want, I’m fine with it. I would only ask that they consider their options every so often to ensure that they’re still on the path that they feel works best for them.

Priorities, passion, perception – they all change. You never know what could shift overnight!


Are you giving in to the distractions of life, which can keep you from making your best moves? Whether intentionally or unintentionally, are people around you keeping you from your goals and moving forward?

Many times, people have a good idea of what they should be doing or the direction in which they should be going, but those in their circle, network, or tribe don’t share that same vision or hope.

Instead of pushing forward with what they desire, they give in to what it is their group prefers to do.

This is where we need to be careful not to live our lives or work our careers through other people’s eyes, reservations, or fears.

Also, keep in mind: In addition to those who support us, we should seek out those who are going to challenge us and make us better.

Related: In Working With Others, How Do You Challenge Them To Make Them Better?


Like Distraction above, Tradition is also an external factor. It’s based on your circle of connections. Specifically, though, tradition means that seeking opportunities for development and growth may not be ingrained in your tribe’s culture. It’s never been done before, so why start now?

Take me, for example. Being the son of immigrants, I could’ve continued doing what my parents did when they came to this country — manual labor in a factory. It’s hard, repetitive, physical work. I did it as a kid after school and during school breaks, so I only got a small taste of their total commitment to the work.

So in terms of tradition, I could have kept going down their same path. My family didn’t have any friends who were doctors, lawyers, accountants, or any other non-blue-collar people for that matter. My family was surrounded by a blue-collar tribe.

And my parents weren’t familiar with what the alternative path was to factory work, but whatever it was, that’s what they wanted for me. They didn’t want me caught in some kind of tradition cycle, following in their footsteps.

There are so many reasons we might not be moving in the right direction. The list might even go beyond the items on this list.

Oftentimes, after clients make the realization that they fall into any one of the categories above, or any combination of them, the work forward can begin.

So much can happen once self-realization takes place. Once someone realizes where they stand, and clarifies the direction in which they want to work, it’s a matter of finding the resources to work forward.

The realization makes way for that desire to work forward.

Also very important: The entire realization of what’s at work under the surface doesn’t take place all at once. Realizations can take place gradually and sporadically over time. The important part is to open up your mind and understanding to the reasoning of why things are happening — or why they’re not.

We need to understand what it is that keeps us repeating those behaviors, habits, and practices. We need to understand what it is that holds us back.

If we remain locked into where we are, the old us won’t evolve — we won’t get better, we won’t get stronger, and the quality of who we are and what we deliver will only suffer.

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