How are your perceptions of the world holding you back from what you really want?

The feeling of chasing after the next thing often comes from ideas about where we should be at this point in our lives and in our careers based on what our peers have achieved or just a general feeling that we could, or should, be doing more, enjoying more, living more.

It might be chasing a promotion, finding love, becoming a parent, hitting an income milestone, losing weight. It sounds like, “I’ll be happy when… I am back to a size 6, I get promoted, find a better job, get married, go on my dream vacation.” Fill in the blank with whatever sounds most familiar to you.

Here’s what I’ve found: Most people who define thing A (what they are striving for/chasing) to work on in coaching end up identifying thing B as what is really holding them back.

Thing B is usually hiding in what they are tolerating or rationalizing as good enough. It often sounds like, “It’s fine.”

Here’s how this plays out: Lane hires a leadership coach to attain a long sought-after promotion. On the surface, a straightforward and valuable use of coaching. Turns out Lane’s been tolerating/rationalizing a significant amount of financial debt.

Lane has a pattern of ping-ponging between accepting good enough (“I wish I was further along financially/could buy a house/take a vacation, but it’s fine because I have a low interest credit card and at least I’m getting airline miles”) and feeling helpless or blaming others for what isn’t working (“There’s no way I’ll ever get out of debt. It’s so expensive in this city. If I want to be seen as successful, I have to buy fancy things and drive a nice car”).

Seems like it has nothing to do with getting promoted, right? The thing is, unbeknownst to Lane, this ping-ponging pattern happens every day at work.

  • Missed a big deadline? “It’s fine because other people miss deadlines too and I’m almost always on time. It’s not my fault I missed the deadline, it was unreasonable to start with and my teammates dropped the ball.”
  • Team keeps undermining my authority? “At least my boss hasn’t noticed and nothing major has happened. They are a bunch of whiney babies. It’s not my fault and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

When something doesn’t go the way you planned, how do you respond?

By choosing to stop accepting “it’s fine” we are faced with the question: what are the opportunities here? This opens the door to create new results.

Opportunities like enabling everyone on the team to contribute in a meaningful way while also delivering the results that were promised. Like collaborating with co-workers to gain their trust and earn the right to influence. And, like identifying an opportunity to bring in a new income stream and define a plan to get out of debt.

That is leadership and that gets you promoted.

Interested in what perceptions you’ve developed and how they are impacting the results you can achieve?

The Energy Leadership™ Index (ELI) is a one-of-a-kind assessment that enables people to hold up mirrors to their perceptions, attitudes, behaviors, and overall leadership capabilities – which determine their situation, performance and results.

Learn More About #AimHighJuly Now.

A version of this post appeared on LinkedIn.