The thing about sabotage of course is that it’s secret and stealthy, which means you don’t know it’s happening. The same applies whether someone else is doing it to you or whether you are doing it to yourself! sounds bizarre? why would anyone sabotage themselves you may ask? well that is the difference I suppose, that at least it’s done with purpose if it’s done to someone or something else. When you do it to yourself it’s accidental and you don’t even realise – until a helpful coach draws your attention to it that is!
Here are a few self-sabotaging techniques I’ve seen work really well:
- self-deprecating humour which tells everyone “I’m a joke” – then wonder why no one takes you seriously or listens to your words of wisdom
- starting presentations by apologising, for instance for how boring the subject is or how little time you’ve had to prepare – ie inviting your audience be bored by you or look for mistakes or anything that’s not quite as polished as it might be
- focusing on what you don’t want to happen – like when you ride a bike and think “I mustn’t hit that kerb” – what do you do….? Henry Ford, of Ford Motors fame, said “whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right” (Not sure if that was before or after he said “you can have any colour you like as long as it’s black” :)) In other words if you think you can do something you’ll find a way, if you think you can’t do it you’ll also find ways to fail (consciously or unconsciously!)
- failing to ‘Begin with the end in mind’ or to set yourself some BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) – a manager said to me only a few days ago that he needed to think through the steps before envisioning the outcome – but how can you plan what you’re going to do if you don’t know where you want to end up?!
I know these work, I’ve tried them myself!
So how to set yourself up for success rather than failure? here are some tips taking the examples above – and I know these work too, because I use them myself:
- examine your sense of humour – it’s wonderful to have a GSOH but what DO you make jokes and quips about? if it’s about yourself and not complimentary listen to what others are witty about and see what you can learn – you don’t want to lose your sense of humour, just refocus it
- at presentations focus on your audience rather than on yourself – what are they going to gain from listening to you, how can you make it great for them?
- focus your attention on what you want and what you are capable of, not the things that can go wrong or what you don’t want to happen
- think about what you really want and envision it
More on envisioning for your success next time as this is such a powerful technique for achieving what you want.
In the meantime – how do you sabotage yourself? – or how have you stopped sabotaging yourself? do post your thoughts below and let’s share our collective wisdom. (What’s the worst that can happen?) I really look forward to hearing from you.
 Stephen Covey: The Seven Habits of Highly Successful people
 James C Collins and Jerry I Porras: Built to Last
Photo © Sara Robinson – Fotolia.com
There’s a huge clamour; people talking over each other or a succession of people making their points, arguing their case. Or maybe it’s one long monologue after another. Talk, talk, talk and not much listening but everyone thinks they’re doing a great job at this meeting because they have said a lot. And there’s nothing that makes sense of it all and moves it towards a conclusion and decision. Until…… there’s a calm and confident voice that hasn’t been heard so far that makes a few really pertinent points and brings everything together – the hubbub subsides, there’s space for everyone to take stock and everything is refocused on the aim of the meeting. This voice is the one that has authority and is soon recognised as such by the whole team.
How do I know? one of my coachees wanted to have more impact at meetings so I asked him who had the most authority at meetings he attended. After a few moments thought he realised that it was the person who habitually said least but came in at a critical point with something that made a real difference. By changing his behaviour he has now become recognised as the person who gets things done at meetings, increasing his authority and status both in meetings and in the leadership team as a whole.
So how do you do that? In short:
- sit back quietly and really listen
- identify patterns and themes, points of common ground and difference and how your view fits
- jot down key ideas
- summarise, make your points succinctly and propose a way forward which takes account of all views expressed, not just your own
And of course always use this power with positive intentions!
What’s your top tip for making meetings fruitful and using them to enhance your influence and impact? please add your ideas to the comments below.
Next time: how are you infecting your team?