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  • Writer's pictureGinny Telego

Leadership On Hold


Recently a woman who completed a leadership program with me – I’ll call her Susan – shared that she had just been hired for a new position in the organization where she has worked as the office coordinator for many years.  The other position had been open and filled twice over the past 10 years and even though Susan had the skills required for the position, she had not thought she was qualified for the position.  When the last person in the position left to take another job, Susan did not immediately put in her application. As other applications began to come in, she mentioned to a colleague that she was interested in the job and he said “Well why haven’t you put in your resume?” She responded, “I don’t know…. maybe I will.”  She got the job and is thrilled to be utilizing her strengths and leadership skills more in her new position.

So what kept Susan from stepping into that opportunity earlier? If you have been in this place of wanting to make a change in your job, what are the thoughts that prevent you from moving the process forward?

Most likely it’s a plethora of limiting beliefs about yourself, your abilities, your qualifications, what will happen to others if you leave your current job, etc…. When we are considering a move into leadership or into a position that expands our current leadership responsibilities our limiting belief self-talk becomes loud and quite obnoxious.  And the more we move towards what we want, the louder the limiting beliefs become.  The gremlin that controls our thoughts about ourselves begins to yell in our ear “What makes you think you can do that job better than someone else?” “You know your boss depends on you; what will happen to her if you leave her side?” Then there are the “What ifs” ……

  1. What if I get the job and then realize I can’t do it?

  2. What if I leave my current job and the new job doesn’t work out and I get fired? Then what? How will I pay my mortgage?

  3. What if I do well in the new job and people expect more of me?

And on and on it goes so we end up saying to ourselves “I think the safest thing is to just stay where I am until another opportunity comes along that is a better fit.”

So how do we get rid of the limiting beliefs gremlin and step towards what we want?

First, we have to recognize whether the thoughts and beliefs are valid.  If the job you are considering requires a degree in engineering and your degree is in accounting, then likely you really don’t have the qualifications for the position.  However, if the job you are considering fits your qualifications but perhaps requires a specific certification, then you could pursue that certification and mention that in your cover letter.  So the limiting belief that you don’t meet the requirements of the position has just been smashed.

Next, we have to look at the underlying reasons that we are letting limiting beliefs gremlins speak so loudly to us.  In the book “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks, the author speaks about our “Upper Limit Problem” or “ULP” for short.  When we are about to embark on something that puts us into being in our “Zone of Genius” we often self-sabotage because of some underlying belief that in achieving our potential, we are doing something wrong.  One example in the book is someone who stops short of moving into their “Zone of Genius” because of a fear that in doing so, he or she will outshine someone else in their circle — most likely a family member.  You see, our limiting beliefs are something that are formed throughout our life through experiences, relationships and failures.  We focus on these things when we begin to step into opportunity and if we perceive that doing something for our own success will harm a relationship, then we quickly step back; thinking that we’ll wait for another opportunity that doesn’t seem like such a big deal.  But as the quote at the top of this article states, “When there is a hill to climb, don’t think that waiting will make it smaller.”

We have to be willing to step forward if we want to achieve something worthwhile.  What if another opportunity to work in your “Zone of Genius” doesn’t come along?  What if that person you are concerned about outshining actually is your biggest cheerleader?  What if you step forward to climb the mountain and you succeed at reaching the goal?

Not stepping forward is simply a way to keep ourselves in a place of comfort — even if we aren’t happy with what’s happening.  If you are finding yourself in a place of wanting something different in your leadership journey, garner the courage to start on the trail to what you want.  You might be surprised to see the view at the destination is more amazing than you imagined.

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