True story, I can’t look at, read, hear or even think of the word “sabotage” without immediately starting to sing the Beastie Boys hit, “Sabotage” in my own mind. It’s a reflex response to the song.
You know you’ve created a hit when over 20 years later just a mention of a single word causes people to start internally playing a song in their mind.
Sorry to disappoint you, but this post has nothing to do with that song.
Today we’re going to discuss a topic that came up tonight in conversation with my friend Cate Richards from True Entrepreneur at a local meetup this evening. Cate was telling me about the show on Netflix, “Last Chance U” and how so many of the featured young men in that documentary were sabotaging themselves in life.
That registered away in my memory as a topic to discuss in a post more broadly.
When you coach people in their business or discuss situations with people trying to start their own business on a regular basis, you run into a few types of people:
– The folks who are ambitious, motivated, smart and hungry, These people will always find a way to be successful;
– People that are maybe not the sharpest tool in the shed, but the work hard, follow direction and are consistent. These individuals also tend to have success more often than not, but sometimes are limited by their own ceiling in terms of ability.
– The last group of people are smart and appear to have all the tools, but for some reason, they can’t consistently put it together and are habitual failures.
I want to delve into that last group because I see this pathology all the time.
The first time you see it, you may not even know what you’re looking at. It often manifests itself in the form of a person who on the surface has everything going for them: smart, articulate and savvy, but for whatever reason, they are failing. Most of us just chalk it up to bad luck or maybe they’ve made a mistake and the failure just spawns from there.
Then you see it again and again.
I’ve always found that when you scratch the surface of these situations, they have a tendency to present you with some fairly damaged humans. These otherwise well-adjusted people have something broken inside them that leads them to make poor decisions that undermine their efforts.
Often times, these people look like they are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
I know in my coaching business when I come across these people they can be really difficult to work with because there’s something in their subconscious mind that’s working against them. The truth is, the only way to break this cycle is to understand what’s causing it to happen in the first place and call it out.
If you happen to be the person that is sabotaging themselves then at least by recognising it you can do something to try and resolve it. The trite answer would be to say get yourself sorted out, but the reality it, that may be easier said than done and it may take a considerable amount of time.
So what happens in the interim?
You need to get yourself some help and you need to put checkpoints in to make sure that you’re staying the path. Having a good business coach or a mentor who you respect and listen to can come in handy in a situation like this. They can understand what you’re trying to achieve, come to grips with your plan and then make sure that you’re staying on course and not drifting off.
Ultimately though, you need to get the underlying problem resolved. I’m not a psychologist and I don’t play one of TV, so I can’t really help you with this. I think that just identifying and accepting that you have an issue is a good first step to build on.
With respect to business though, it’s critical to understand why things fail and why they don’t hit the targets that people set for them. If there’s a breakdown in a person, then you need to work out what happened and how can you fix it. If the problem keeps happening, then you might be witnessing someone self-sabotage and that’s when you really need to dive in and get the problem under control.