Thursday, September 24, 2009

Barriers to Success

Hey folks - I'm going to dive right into today's post and gloss right over the 3 month gap in posts.

Okay? Great!

One of the things that I love most about this industry of ours is the courage we have to self-assess and reflect. We are consistently, and collectively, examining ourselves for the weakest link. We are our own test subjects. We happily subject ourselves to pilot classes, to peer-review our work, or beta-test doctoral projects.

Many times, we are able to identify some great development opportunities to get us to the next level in our career, skill growth, or personal relationships. We actively seek out those opportunities to improve our situation.

Sometimes, we find ourselves short on some essential skill and the ability to develop in that specific area is seemingly limited by factors outside of our control. We try to visualize our goals and can't see past the obstacles in the way. Examples from people in my immediate network:

1. Desperate Career Changer: They know they want something else in life, but can't afford the reduction in pay that will definitely come from moving to a brand new industry after a decade in their current one.
"I bring home the paycheck in the family, if I start over in a new job, my family will starve!"

2. Wannabe Manager: Wants to move up in the company and become a leader, but can't seem to get promoted to demonstrate their value. Also appears famously with recent college grads, "Every job I apply for says they want experience, but how can I get experience if I can't get a job!"

3. Misaligned Worker: These folks are hard workers, and they try their best, but they just don't fit with the culture. Relationships have soured and despite everyone's best efforts, they struggle just to keep a smile on their face.

4. Personal Focus: Sometimes... no, very often, we are going gangbusters on the job and life throws a curve ball. How can we be expected to excel in our job when we can barely get our minds off the drama we are coping with at home?

Here's my point - none of these scenarios are waterproof barriers to success. It's easy to collapse into a curled ball and blame the rest of the world. It's easy to point fingers at our bosses, colleagues, spouses, the economy and say, "This is why I can't achieve my goals."

For all of our courage in reflection, we can be cowards when it comes to execution. We can see what needs to be done, but it is too hard! We let everyone and everything get in our way so that we can martyr ourselves on the concept of "Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda."

So, my challenge to you (anyone still reading) is to identify what is holding you back - and do something about it. If you are trying to get your foot in the door in a new position or industry volunteer/intern to build your portfolio. If you are coping with family issues that take your focus away, try and set aside a small amount of time each week to devote to yourself.

You deserve it!

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