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6 Stories That Could Be Sabotaging Your Career (and Life)

06/12/2014 10:39 am ET | Updated Aug 12, 2014
Compassionate Eye Foundation/Steven Errico via Getty Images

From when you wake up in the morning to when you close your eyes at night you're telling yourself stories. Stories about who you are, why you're here and what's next for you. The best stories inspire you, while the worst stories conspire against you. All stories are powerful, especially if they can get from your head deep into your heart. Some stories may be sabotaging your career and life.

I told myself a story once that was sabotaging my career and life. It was simple: "I need to focus on me first." In an effort to take care of myself first, I became too focused on me and lost sight of what drives all real success: service to others. That story became the narrative of my actions until one day a coworker stopped me right in the middle of a monologue and said, "Chris, were you even listening to what I said?" Right then, I realized I strayed from what I believed in my core about serving others, and I knew I had to be different. I replaced my story with a new one: "I focus on others first." And it's making a difference -- I'm not perfect at it, but it's much more powerful.

Here are six stories that can sabotage you:

1. "I'm not good enough."
It's the promotion you don't think you're ready for. It's the relationship you feel you're failing. It's the business you can't seem to get off the ground. And it's the haunting sense that, no matter what you do, it's never enough. This story tricks you first by acting like humility, telling you you'll be better off with it, but once it's inside, it starts wreaking havoc. It searches for any grain of confidence and crushes it. This story can leave you desolate unless you grab it quickly by the nasty horns, and bust it.

Replace with: "I'm more than enough."
You have infinite potential now. No matter your background, you don't have to wait to feel great about yourself and fully confident to change the world. Ask for that promotion. Re-imagine that relationship to be amazing. Make that business idea happen. Be more than enough by connecting to a purpose in life that gets you up in the morning and makes you dream dreams at night.

2. "I'll be happy when..."
You can insert anything here: "... when I get that next job," "... when I finally graduate," "... when I get married," "... when I get out of debt," "... when I retire," etc. This lie is subtle -- it dresses up like aspiration for the future, but it's really addiction to fantasy. Just think about a big goal you've achieved. Did it make you automatically happy ever after? When I got a dream job I'd wanted for years, it made me happy in the moment but after settling in for a month or so, I went right back to setting new, greater goals. I needed to be happy regardless. Happiness is a function of your actions, not your situation.

Replace with: "I'm happy now because... "
Enjoy the journey. Apply the science that deciding to be happy creates success, rather than being successful creating happiness. Don't hinge your happiness on a goal. Make happiness part of your lifestyle now. Every day is a new day to do something awesome, to connect, share and innovate in ways nobody has before.

3. "I already know."
Being the smartest guy in the room isn't what it used to be. While it once impressed, now it annoys. Google and Siri are the gurus of data, but nobody likes to hang out with them during social hours. Be interested in other people, listen to their story. Find out what powers them, and they'll love you for it. What are their fears, failures, hopes, and dreams?

Replace with: "I'd like to explore."
Don't be afraid to not know stuff. People love when you listen, are authentic and especially when you connect in an unexpected way. In a world where technology is taking over our lives, don't let relationships become robotic. Be real. Give people a one-on-one experience in conversation they'll never forget full of tremendous value without seeking anything in return. The most powerful people in the world are the most generous.

4."I work alone."
Being the lone worker superhero is not the future, although it may have worked in the past for Knowledge Workers who got stuff done "behind the curtain." Not today. Not in the Integration Age.

Replace with: "I connect with others."
Now it's about being a Connection Worker, partnering, collaborating and making things happen together. Like in a marriage, you've got to share strengths wherever possible.

5. "I have to say 'Yes.'"
In our busy lives, "Yes" can be the ultimate enemy of progress. Don't let "Yes" rob you of what matters most. This is the great challenge of our day where so much is possible, available and accessible.

Replace with: "I choose."
To choose is such a powerful story. You may choose to say "Yes," but you may choose to say "No." It's all about recognizing your power and doing your best.

6. "I need to focus on me first."
It's not about selfie-ism, a narcissistic, personal profile-dwelling lifestyle of me-glorying. There's no power in that. There's only power in serving others.

Replace with: "I focus on others first."
It's all about service, service, service. According to research by Adam Grant, professor at the Wharton school, giving is actually the secret to getting and staying ahead.

Now's the time to change the stories that could be sabotaging you, and replace them with powerful stories. It may seem unexpected or inconvenient, but the more you power others with your kindness, authenticity and inspiration, the more you'll be powered to accomplish your dreams.


Cross-posted from Linkedin.

Follow Chris Deaver on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@CDeaver7

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