Sabotage, Success Traps and
How To Avoid Them

As Christians in the people-helping field, we know where our strength comes from. Yet sometimes a client's lack of progress can be baffling. Today I'm going to address forms of self sabotage, success traps and how we can avoid them.

I was taking my early morning walk and when I do this I often pray. These are usually prayers of gratitude and prayers of intercession … also prayers for wisdom and revelation.

On this particular morning, I remembered my journey to where I am now, both geographically here in beautiful, Southwest Florida and also in my business / ministry.

What Does Success Look Like?

Success certainly has not been a straight line and like most others, I have had challenges and disappointments, both internal and external. But I have been persistent. Wrong thoughts have come but I have managed to navigate despite them. This led me to consider what people tell themselves that either stops, delays or sabotages their progress.

Do you have coaching or counseling clients whose thoughts derail their success? Maybe they are so subtle, they can’t see it for themselves. Or perhaps they are highly aware of these obstacles, which is why they hired you.

“Every excuse is good, if it works."
~ Italian proverb

Ok, so in other words, if someone has already decided that they’re not going to do something, any excuse will do.  And so much the better, if others believe it.

Often, the thing that keeps us from following through on what we say we want to do is what we tell ourselves … our story (also referred to as self-talk).

Without a coach or counselor at their side, folks can make all sorts of justifications, excuses, and in the end, create “loopholes” so they can put the thing off for a while longer or talk themselves out of it altogether.

Here are what some of these look like:

  • I'm not ready yet. 

  • I don’t know how to …
  • So-and-so wouldn’t like it if I (or) What would (name of person) think?
  • I’m too old / young / fat / skinny / too much or too little of something
  • I don’t have the confidence.
  • I am afraid of failure.
  • What if I can't handle the success / criticism / notoriety?
  • I don’t have enough time.
  • I can’t figure out that ONE thing I am supposed to do, so I will do nothing until I discover it.
  • I am afraid to deal with competition.
  • I have to plan every detail out first.
  • I must get 5 more certifications before I know enough to begin.
John C Maxwell

"The whole idea of motivation is a trap..." John C. Maxwell

And how about this one …

  • I’m not motivated yet.

In our society, we have a tendency to allocate high priority to things like wealth, security and stability. And if/when we reach that point, it’s very difficult to think of life without them. It has been said that the three most dangerous addictions in life are to heroin, to carbohydrates and to your weekly paycheck. 

But should financial security come at the expense of pursuing big, bold ideas? Paying your bills usually won’t earn you a legacy nor will it make headline news.

Leadership expert, John C. Maxwell explained it this way. “The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget motivation. Just do it. Exercise, lose weight, test your blood sugar, or whatever. Do it without motivation. And then, guess what? After you start doing the thing, that’s when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on doing it.”

Sabotage Can Often Be Avoided Simply By The Words You Choose

Sometimes it take something as seemingly insignificant as changing the words you tell yourself. Instead of saying, "I can't ...", ask yourself, "How can I ... ?" This one modification in yourself talk can change your life. Suddenly you are looking for possibilities instead of excuses.

Weakness Exists; So We Deal With It

Unlike most coach training programs, our Christian Life Coach certification course addresses human weakness.  Many programs (even among Christian training) ignore it or pretend this doesn't exist and imply that we are all capable of determining our own destiny.  I know that this is not true from my personal experience.  The Apostle Paul encourages us: 

'But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is
made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my
weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.'
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

In my CCLC / CPLC certification course, we address why acknowledging our weakness is key to opening the doors for God to act on our behalf.

Your challenge this week

I want you to make a list of the top 3 things you want to do, your goals, or items on your “bucket list”. Next to each one, write down why (and be absolutely honest!) it hasn’t happened yet. Then begin to think strategically. What would have to change, for you do complete the thing?

If you've had trouble reaching a goal, the current plan probably isn't working. So create a new plan and dissect it into managable steps.  Write it down.  It's not real until you write it down. Then take the steps one by one, even if they are tiny ones. 

Please post your thoughts, wins and challenges below. And feel free to respond any of the replies with your own thoughts on the topic.

© 2020, 2015 Leelo Bush PhD

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