If you were sabotaging your own chamber of commerce career, wouldn’t you want to stop? Sometimes, the first step to stop self-sabotage is to be aware of the specific actions you’re taking (or not taking) that is causing your career to stall. But if we were doing it, wouldn’t we know?
Not always. Self-sabotage isn’t always the career-limiting moves or huge errors we might imagine. It’s often the safe attitudes and smaller decisions that can be the biggest problems of your career.
If you consider yourself a dedicated professional and a hard worker who is often lauded by your boss for your organizational skills and your effort, you may be rightfully proud of yourself.
You may look at the title of this blog and think, that’s not me. After all, you’re relatively successful and people think highly of you. How can you be sabotaging your own career?
Read the following and decide if you could be so much more than you currently are–if you only know what you were doing and how to stop self-sabotage.
7 Ways to Stop Self-Sabotage of Your Chamber Career
When we’re talking about career sabotage in this article, we’re going to skip the obvious career-ending moves like telling off your chamber board or going on a tirade about a local business. Those types of career-limiting moves are obvious, and no one needs to be told they’re not a good idea. What we’re talking about here are those seemingly safe decisions you make within the course of the day that could be limiting your success as a chamber professional.
Are you guilty of…
You don’t want to rock the boat and so you continue to do the things that people expect of you. On one hand this seems like a good idea. You are stable and dependable. But you may also be playing small. If you seek out the security of continuing to work the way your chamber has always operated, you may be doing fine. And if your chamber is bringing in a satisfactory number of members, you may not see a problem.
Your board may not see a problem. Your community may not see a problem. But you could be doing so much more if you stop self-sabotage and instead implemented something on a larger scale. Safe never put anyone on the fast track of innovation highway.
What big project or goal have you been avoiding? How can you start making it a reality?
Being Humble to a Fault
Don’t get me wrong, humility is a virtue. But people practicing self-sabotage aren’t humble because they were raised that way. They’re humble and stay out of the limelight without marketing themselves because they don’t want to be criticized, risk the discomfort of being passed over or being judged on a lackluster performance.
If you give the credit every time to someone else, you need to examine your motives. Are you truly humble or are you crediting someone else because you fear the credit you’re being given could easily turn into blame?
For instance, if the board congratulates you on a particularly good quarter of member retention, are you quick to put that success on someone else? That way, if next quarter’s retention is uninspiring, you won’t be blamed for it.
Some people also seek out jobs where they are always #2 in command. They may see themselves as a good copilot, but their intentions deep down may speak to being afraid of taking complete ownership and thus blame, should something not go as planned.
Some people also stay out of management because they don’t want to be held accountable for their team’s actions and success or failure.
If you find yourself always asking others what you should do, you need to assess your motives so that you can stop self-sabotage. Are you asking because you’re trying to build interest in your program or are you lacking confidence in being able to chart the course on your own? In today’s world where crowdsourcing and asking for the opinions of others is considered good leadership, it’s important to assess the “why” behind your questions.
Only you know the driver behind being humble and deferring the credit you’re receiving to somebody else.
What success can you take credit for today? How can you become more resilient in the face of potential failure? What success can you plan for tomorrow?
Surrounding Yourself with Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen
It’s important for your staff, members, or community to feel invested in something like a chamber program. Asking for insights and opinions is a great way to make them feel involved. However, if you spend your entire career asking for input and feedback and holding back from implementing anything until you have 20 or so people chiming in on your original idea, you may be a self-saboteur.
While input is great, too much input from too many people can give others the idea that you don’t know what you’re doing and that you’re in over your head. It can also lead to information overload and analysis paralysis. Too many cooks in the kitchen will ruin the soup.
What can you implement now, without anyone else’s opinion or having to involve a committee?
Running (the Other Way) When It’s Time to Move Forward
Are you a dynamic idea person? Can you spend all day coming up with innovative solutions? But when it comes time to implement them, put the team together to implement them, or make decisions on implementation, do you as a leader feel paralyzed and uninterested in moving forward? If you do, you may be self-sabotaging.
After all, everyone loves a creative idea, but the pain comes in implementation. That’s when the hard part occurs. Difficult decisions and conversations, alignment of resources, and the potential for failure come out of the implementation process.
If you find yourself energized by a million ideas, even if you surround yourself with a team of top-notch implementation experts, as a leader you’ll eventually need to make the hard calls. Self-saboteurs will position themselves in a second in command roll that allows them to make suggestions on creative solutions but keeps them out of the leadership role that would require them to take more responsibility for the success or failure.
What do you need to take a leadership role on today?
Listening to the Voice Telling You “You Are In Over Your Head And Everyone Knows You Are An Imposter”
We all have moments of insecurity in our professional lives. True career growth comes out of taking risks not just on your decisions but in challenging your skill set as well.
While a little bit of self questioning can keep you from making a bad decision, if you allow yourself to be paralyzed by the idea that you are an impostor and everyone around you knows it, you are not only discrediting yourself, but you are also saying that anyone who believes in you is dumb.
Furthermore, imposter syndrome is an experience that many people have during various times in their careers. It wasn’t even intended to be a “syndrome” by the original research paper.
Stop self-sabotage by stopping your imposter self-talk.
Surrounding Yourself by People Who Keep You Thinking Small
Energy is as important as support. If you choose to surround yourself by people who want to continue to play small, who are filled with fear of innovation, you’ll continue to play small.
If you find that you are repeatedly playing on a team like the Bad News Bears (remember them?), known for its inefficiencies, its failures, and its ineptitude, then you may feel safe in an environment of failure.
You may “enjoy” being the leader of an organization that is perpetually understaffed, under budgeted, and never expected to do well. With all those stakes stacked against you, no one expects you to succeed. So, while you continue to fail—and failure never feels good—you are simply doing what people expect and there is safety in that. You are “successfully failing” because who could possibly succeed in that atmosphere?
If you find yourself in position after position, chamber after chamber, where you are leading teams that are well-situated to succeed, it may not be the team … it may be you.
Ask yourself why you are attracted to those kinds of challenges. A leader who comes into a challenging situation and tries to create an innovative solution and fails is different than a leader who continues to lead failing teams and does so without the desire to change.
What if you sought out your next opportunity with a rock-star team at an incredible chamber?
Being Too Realistic About Your Limitations
Are you so practical that you allow your own practicality to serve as an excuse for your career success? Don’t know what I mean? Then let’s talk about J.K. Rowling. The author of the Harry Potter series, and the world’s first billionaire author, describes herself as being as poor as can be without being homeless when she began writing what would become her famous series.
Every day she would go to a coffee house and write for as long as the business would allow her to stay when only purchasing one coffee. That’s not very practical. A day job would have been much more reasonable. After finishing the book, she then endured 12 rejections before she found a publishing home for her work.
Do you have that kind of tenacity?
Many of us would have given up because it’s hard to be told “no” that many times without questioning your abilities.
And how many of us would have even thought to write a book in a coffee shop when we were on federal assistance? I, for one, considering myself a practical person, would probably have sought employment that was a little more lucrative than a speculative venture like writing a novel.
Yet she is a billionaire and I am comfortably plugging along. She took a chance that many of us wouldn’t dare.
Are you doing the same in your career as a chamber professional? Are you using the limitations of your chamber to safeguard, or rather, sabotage your career? For instance, do you say that you would implement that workforce development program if only you didn’t have to worry about member retention?
Are you putting off rebranding because you simply don’t have the resources to do it right now? Are these things true or are you simply making excuses because you don’t want to tackle the large, scary, unpredictable project?
What “unrealistic” action or project can you start today?
Is It Time to Recognize and Stop Self-Sabotage?
When it comes time to stop self-sabotage, it’s rarely those large gaffs that cause our problems. It’s the smaller safeties that we choose over the course of our careers that keep us from attaining greatness.
The difficult part of these things is they don’t feel like sabotage. They feel like smart decisions, safe decisions. But they’re holding us back from being the best person that we can be.
No one else can tell you whether these actions are sabotaging greatness or protecting you from failure. Only you know. And the answer may be “yes” to both. Ultimately, you need to decide whether you are happy watching from the sidelines or are going to stop self-sabotage and risk the injury and (possible) ecstasy of playing at your highest level.