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What's the biggest barrier in the way of your personal or professional development? Well, it could be you. But that's the good news. It means that you can also remove those obstacles and achieve your definition of success.

Standing In Your Own Way

What's getting in your way - and, more importantly, what can you do about it?

Don't know where to go/what to do. Maybe you're first starting out; maybe you've been in the same role for 10 years and are stuck in a rut. Either way, you may not know how to move forward either professionally or personally. It's hard to look at yourself with fresh eyes or take an objective view of where you are and what you need to do to get ahead.

So you find someone who can. This is why people engage with executive coaches, career coaches, or workout coaches - because they can take a hard look and see past the rut, the confusion, the stagnation. They don't tell you where to go, but they can help clarify the possibilities.

Lack of motivation - or negative self-talk. So, you've had those discussions, you've met with a career coach or your manager. They've given you permission to go in whatever direction you need - and you don't. Why? Sometimes laziness plays a part: If a promotion lands in your lap or more money falls from the sky, great. But otherwise, you're not moving.

Other times, you get in your own way with nagging doubts. I can't do this. It's going to be too hard. I don't have the right skill set. If you're lazy, there's not much anyone can do to jumpstart you. If you're listening to negative chatter, maybe that's a good thing. I'm out of shape might be just the self-talk you need to get up and get a trainer. I'm out of my depth might prompt you do make a positive change. Prove the negative thoughts wrong, just to spite them.

Lack of self-awareness. People sometimes assume that extroverts are more adept at advancing in careers or communicating effectively. Or that introverts have greater emotional intelligence. The truth is both introverts and extroverts can excel - or fail. Which one depends not so much on their personality as on their level of self-awareness.

You might think, for instance, that you're a great communicator. You're always the first to pipe up, to blurt out your ideas without thinking them through. That might show up as immaturity, but it's really lack of self-awareness. You don't know you talk too much, or that your relationship with Sue or Frank is not as close as you think, so you overstep boundaries. You're hurting your career without knowing it. Developing self-awareness can save you from these missteps.

Skill set gaps. This is one of the easier items to address, assuming you're not plagued with the aforementioned laziness. If you know you want to move up in your organization, it is up to you to identify areas you need to strengthen. Come up with a list of skills you'll need. For example: I'm qualitative, and I need more quantitative experience. I'm going to figure out which classes I need to take, and then sit down with my boss, ask to do more quantitative work, and see what else they can recommend.

Maybe you need classes, more hands-on experience, a mentor or partner who has filled the role you want to achieve. Whatever it is, the onus is on you. You have to own your own career. Ask questions, figure out what you're lacking, and then come up with a plan for closing the gaps.

You have to take charge of your own career; no one else will. There's help available, training, classes, coaches...but you need to seek it out and take advantage of it. Stop standing in your own way, and overcome your obstacles to success.


Larry Hart

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