Afraid of Success?
Episode 88 - How we self-sabotage our careers
Are you sabotaging your career?
I often wonder: are people fearful of failure, or could they fear success? Regardless, corporate professionals tend to self-sabotage their careers. So this episode of The Job Hunting Podcast is dedicated to professionals who feel afraid or anxious about taking the next step to advance or change their careers.
Here is what I have learned from speaking to hundreds of professionals who are on the fence about what to do with their jobs and career progression:
1. It's impossible not to notice: Men invest in their careers more than women
When I decided to become a career coach, I thought I would work mostly with women. But ironically, most of my clients are men. When there are programs for self-improvement or programs for career development, men easily sign up for it. For women, it’s usually a couple of conversations, back and forth, but in the end, they usually decide not to continue and do it.
2. People think they are afraid of failure, but I believe they are afraid of success
Don’t be afraid of your success. Don’t be afraid of wanting to be successful or of wanting a better career. It’s completely ok to want something better for your life. If it's going to make you happier and you're going to get out more of this life, invest in it. It's great that you want to do something more for yourself and your career.
3. Some people don't believe that they deserve more
I believe that some people feel like they don't deserve more than what they already have. It saddens me when I talk to potential clients, and they decide not to sign up. As people reach out to me already knowing quite a lot about my work, the reason usually is that they fear how career advancement could disrupt their lives, or they don't want to invest in themselves. I have come to realize that work is hard, no matter what we do. It will always be tough to balance and blend work and family. However, it's easier if you a) earn more and b) are happier with your work and career.
4. We have been educated to spend and care for others more than for ourselves
When the air hostess explains before each flight that we need to put on a mask before helping others in case of an emergency, I have always found that incredible triggering. The video showing on the plane's many TVs shows a mother putting on the air mask, then helping her child. I believe they use that image on purpose. The airline company knows that every fiber in a mother's body will be telling her to do otherwise. The image hopefully will counter the way we have been wired.
The concept of always looking after others more than you look after yourself is self-sabotaging your career. And if you have children, it may be sabotaging their careers as well in the future.
5. We are not very good at assessing the value of an investment
Sometimes people say, ‘well, I can't invest in this, it's too expensive. Only to then invest in something completely useless, frankly. For example, I've had prospective clients not willing to invest in coaching, then enrolling in an expensive, yet completely unnecessary, third-tier MBA. If they wanted the student experience, considering my extensive experience with MBAs and executive education worldwide, they could have at least booked a 1-hour consultation to make sure they enroll in a program that would maximize the return on their investment.
Most MBAs are not going to make a difference in their ability to raise more revenue or achieve their career ambitions. Overinvestment in education is a real thing. Higher education is a very commercial business, and it often overpromises and under delivers, pretty much like hyped-up wrinkle cream.
6. "It's never too late to be what you might have been."
This is a quote from George Elliott, which ironically was the pen name of Marianne Evans, an English novelist.
I think people have this idea that success is like reaching the tip of a mountain: once you get there, there you are. That is not success. If you have ready biographies of important and celebrated people, you will know that the struggles can continue even when you reach fame and fortune.
Success is most likely a mindset, a frame of mind. It's also a plan well-designed for yourself, making you feel that you're in control of your life achievements. When you spend your life romanticizing and dreaming about an alternative lifestyle but never making plans to achieve it, you're bound to feel depressed. Making plans and taking small steps in the direction of your preferred future...well, trust me, it makes you feel comfortable, wherever you are in your journey.
Don’t be afraid of success. We need to relearn the concepts of success and failure. Maybe scramble success and failure together and understand that they may happen together, separately, and they are both important parts of a life well-lived. So much learning comes from trying and giving things a go. It's all a great experience and a great adventure.
We need to rethink success and failure when living our lives and making career plans. Also, we should not be so quick to judge ourselves and others in their career successes and career failures. Instead, remember to be kind to each other and yourself.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Timestamps to guide your listening
05:06 - Don't be afraid of success
09:08 - You can overcome your fears
10:10 - Success and failure are just words
Transcript of this episode
Renata: Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of The Job Hunting Podcast. This is episode 88, and I am so inspired to talk to you about this. I'm worried I'm going to jumble my words because I'm feeling a bit emotional. It's about not being afraid of your career success and how we corporate professionals tend to self-sabotage our careers. It's so sad. And I see that all the time, so I was inspired to record this. There's not a script that I'm following. I just have a few notes here from recent conversations that I've had with professionals. Unfortunately, they tend to be women, which upsets me even more. You know, when I decided to become a career coach, for some reason, I thought that I would be working mostly with women and for women because that's my lived experience.
Renata: And I thought I had learned so much from having kids and raising them and managing your career together with all of that. And my husband being away so much because he worked in a different country and I thought, well, I can certainly help women, but you know what? Most of my clients are men. What can I say? I kind of knew that when at the beginning of my consulting business. If you followed me for a while, you know that I've left my corporate career at the end of 2018. And I very quickly started consulting, and my consulting company’s called Pantala. I’m rebranding Pantala so that it becomes my outplacement organization. So I'm not doing corporate consulting anymore, but I quickly started consulting, and I helped a business school. We established their executive programs, you know, the programs that sit alongside the MBA, but very short and easy to do.
Renata: And one of them was targeting women and female corporate executives. And it was so hard to convince those women to come in and do a program. Whereas for the other programs where men and women were supposed to come and do tough negotiations or public speaking or whatever it was, most of the executives coming in to do those programs were men. And they would just go, yep, let's sign up, and off they went. And for women, it was, you know, a couple of conversations, lots of telephones and then, in the end, they would decide not to continue and not do it. I even remember once we had an MBA alumnus of ours who was the manager of a female professional in Canberra. I remember that very well. And he said this program sounds great. I wish I could do it.
Renata: Which was very funny because it was designed just for women. But I want my employee to do it and reach out to her. Here's her number? Here's her email. I then got in touch with her, and she said, oh, no, I don't think this is for me. I don't think I'm ready for this. And I said, listen, your boss has told you to do it. He is willing to invest for you to come here, fly here, have a hotel, stay here and do this program.
I'm pretty sure that this is for you and it will certainly help your career. So, yeah, so I kind of realized back then that I couldn't have a career coaching business focused on women only because that wouldn't be commercially sound for me to do. And I discussed this in fact with Michelle Redfern in a previous episode because she had the same problem.
Renata: And, if you want to listen to that interview with Michelle Redfin, who is a wonderful executive coach based here in Australia, I will link it in the episode, show notes below. But regardless all people out there, men and women, don't be afraid of your success. And don't be afraid of wanting to be successful to wanting a better career and stepping out of your comfort zone of the day-to-day grind; whatever job that you were doing that you think is all that you're going to achieve. Do not be afraid. It is completely okay to want something better for your life. Yes, it is a privilege to have that opportunity to not be at the bottom of the Maslow hierarchy of needs. If you are like me and you are in Australia or a developed country, you are so lucky to have the opportunity to actually think about your career above and beyond, you know, putting food on the table.
Renata: I know that that's a privilege, but make the most out of it, not just for you, but for others. Others that are coming after you and the people that are surrounding you. If it's going to make you happier and you're going to get out more of this life, invest in it. It's great that you want to do something more for yourself and your career. So don't be afraid. Most importantly, I feel that people don't feel like they deserve it. It's that feeling that they don't deserve it that really saddens me when I talk to potential clients that then decide that they don't want to do coaching, or they can't, or they don't, you know, they don't want to invest in themselves. It may be the upbringing, you know, the blue color type of family or family traditions, where you were supposed to reach a certain level of career ambition and then plateau at some stage.
Renata: I know that my husband and I struggled with that. With the type of upbringing that we had. And trying to break away from that for us is very hard. I'm not even sure that we have completely done it yet, but we're often trying really hard to break away from those sorts of values that tend to plateau our own ambitions. You know? So that's something that you should sort of think about if what you're trying to achieve in your life is really what you want, or is it the life that was expected of you? Also, the concept of always looking after others more than you look after yourself, that's clear self-sabotaging. And I was listening to an episode with Mia Freedman, and the girls from Mamamia out loud is; I’ll put a link to it below. And they were talking about the difference between having fun and investing in themselves versus what women tend to do, which is, oh, just going to get my nails done, or I'm just going to buy, you know, this bag.
Renata: And that is something that is still a task and still the thing, and not really an investment in yourself, in your wellbeing. And it's really not fun. The definition of fun is doing something that doesn't give you anything back but joy. So, we tend to always overthink everything that we're doing, and it has to be a task that has an input and an output and a clear impact of some kind. I'm kind of going on a tangent here, but that same principle applies to investing in yourself and your career. Sometimes people say, well, I can't invest in this, but then they go and invest in something completely useless, frankly. And it's not going to make a difference in their ability to raise more revenue or income or achieve their career ambitions, all the things that they romanticize and dream about but don't have a clear plan to achieve.
Renata: You can overcome that. It's never too late to start this process of self-love, really. It's never too late to be what you might have been. You know, this is a quote from George Elliott, which ironically was not a George. It was Marianne Evans, and George Elliot was her pen name. And she was an English novelist. But I really love that quote. It's never too late to be what you might have been. We are going to live a very long life. I've said this before on this podcast. And I don't care if you're in your thirties, forties, fifties, or sixties, or above; there is still time for you to invest in having the career that you dream and achieve the success that you want. I want to talk a little bit about the idea of success and failure and that dichotomy that we discuss so much in career management and in our professional life.
Renata: I think people have this idea that success is the tip of a mountain that once you reach and you get to the top, that's it. There you are. There is success. But no. Success is a mindset. It's a frame of mind. It's also a plan well-designed for yourself that makes you feel that you're in control of your life achievements. That makes you feel comfortable wherever you are in your personal journey. So many times, you achieve success, and you don't feel successful. And so many times, you fail miserably only to realize that it was the best thing that happens to you. So, you know, I think we need to relearn and scramble success and failure together and relearn what those things mean to us. So much learning comes from trying and giving things a go, and I don't want people to misunderstand success and failure in their careers, in their lives to scramble altogether. It's all a great experience and a great adventure. And we need to rethink those concepts when thinking about our careers and when we're planning for our future. Also, we should not be so quick to judge ourselves and others in their career successes and career failures. So remember that and be kind to each other and to yourself. All right, I got that off my chest. I feel so much better now.
Renata: I will send this episode to a lot of people that have reached out to me in the past. I don't know, two years. Let's see what they have to say. And if you have anything to say about this episode or any other episode, you can email me. You can send me a message. If you have signed up for my newsletter, all you need to do is reply back, and I will get your comments. And if you have not signed up for my newsletter, why not? Sign up for my newsletter. It's weekly. It sends you the new episode every week, plus a whole bunch of other resources that I like to share with my mailing list, my community. So join the tribe. There's a link to it in the episode show notes, or you can go to my website.
Bye for now. And I'll talk to you again, next time.
About the Host
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, , on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients.
Contact Renata Bernarde
I’m determined to help you! I want you to feel empowered, nail your next job, and have the career you want.
My free resources for job hunters: The Optimized Job Search: Weekly Schedule & Masterclass.
Learn more about my services, courses, and group coaching: RenataBernarde.com