Do You Struggle With These False Beliefs About Success?
Success can be a catch word for anything resembling doing better than you did previously. And, as a general statement, that’s accurate. But in the corporate world, the world of business, success more often resembles a big move up—a much larger role, a bigger title, more money. And it’s a success that’s visible to those around you.
For some few people success of this nature is what they’ve been developing and growing as an organic process since they were in grade school.
But for most folks "jumping up" in one’s career comes with seriously weighty concerns. Some of them are quite legitimate and are a measure of mature preparation for a new role. Others are grounded in false beliefs about success, which all too often have their roots in childhood .
The most common false beliefs I’ve witnessed over the years fall into three categories:
*** I’m going to be overwhelmed now that I’ve got this larger role
These people feel compelled to know everything before they even begin a new role. And since they can’t possibly do that ahead of time, they live with heightened anxiety, fearful that at each moment of their new job they will be found out as not deserving of the promotion they just received.
Because of their anxious state, they have trouble processing new requests and struggle with incorporating their manager’s guidance. Tasks keep piling on leading to more and more confusion rather than utilizing their ability to draw on a system of prioritization. Too many meetings makes the overwhelm even worse as the unfinished assignments pile up even higher.
Yet very often these people would be outstanding at their jobs if it weren’t for their chronic and false panic about what’s required to get the job done, which generally originated in their childhood home where impossible "excellence" was demanded and failure to meet the impossible was routinely chastised.
*** I need to work extra hard in order to prove myself
When these people take on a new position, they typically have their eye on the next rung up as the prize for doing well. So it makes sense to them to work extra long hours, take on more responsibilities than they can comfortably execute, and drive themselves into the ground doing so.
Their daily mantra is something like, "If I work super hard, my boss is going to notice how exceptional I am and give me that promotion." In the meantime, as that promotion fails to happen, rather then slowing down a bit, they amp up the determination to "prove themselves" in every way they can.
Yet, it seldom works because their edge of desperation limits how others view their actual output. Exploration of the individual’s childhood experience has frequently revealed a situation with one or both parents who were emotionally shut down, unable to fulfill the child’s need for sincere recognition, and were instead oftentimes critical of even the smallest issue that the child struggled with.
*** I’m smarter than everyone else and don’t need to prove myself
This rarer group lives with an inflated and naive concept of their own excellence. While generally quite bright, and quite accomplished, they can’t quite imagine why they shouldn’t have whatever position they desire right now.
Feedback to the contrary, providing critical input about their skills, is oftentimes a serious identity shock. They truly can’t imagine how people could see them as lacking and in need of professional and/or technical development.
While they may be able to reorient themselves and take on the task of growing a more mature and measured sense of their abilities, they first chafe at the thought that they need to do this. Since it strikes right at the heart of their inflated identity, they often have to question how they were raised such that they have lived with such a blind-sided vision of themselves. And it can be quite painful when they have to betray the "golden child" image they were raised with in order to actually achieve the excellence that must be earned and developed.
Success brings many challenges that can sometimes be surprising, even shocking, and often inspiring to others when used to grow and develop beyond your previous understanding of your identity. In this way you demonstrate transformative leadership and serve as a model for professional maturity.
I look forward to reading how success has been a catalyst for your own transformation, whether or not it came with the need to knock down a few false beliefs!