Monday, November 7, 2011

Watch out! Don't Be Your Own Worst Enemy

Everyone has moments of self-reflection where they question what makes them who they are. While the answer to that is complicated and depends on the person, I would like to propose that who you are was predetermined before you were born. Each of us was given an identity based on race, social economics, gender, height, weigh, etc. Those factors informed us as to whether or not we could be cool, smart, beautiful, tough… While the very characteristics that we were given from birth create our identity, they also stand in the way of creating breakthroughs.

To put it bluntly, what got you to your current level of success is not what will take you to the next level. As a rule, you will have to become someone else and acquire new skills and competencies to rise to the next level of success. However, most of us lack the process for achieving that or the imagination to conceive of new mental models. Others lack the courage in some cases to invalidate who they were. If you observe your life, you will see that your environment and network supports who you have been. Anything that disagrees with who you are makes you uncomfortable, and you avoid it.

So how does one create personal breakthroughs that allow them to make quantum leaps in professional performance? First, get clear about a myth. Most people think they have made up their identities, that they are who they want to be. This is wrong. To a significant degree, that identity was given to you. Your identity informs you of your mindset, what you say and what you do. In other words, you literally have nothing to do with what you say and do. If you think you are the exception, think about your response to my statement and ask yourself where you learned to think that response. I promise you that way of thinking existed before you were born and it was given to you as the right way to respond to my words.  

Second, be honest about what you would like to accomplish and experience in your daily life. Third, visualize who you would have to be and the correlated actions you would have to take to get there.  Fourth, socialize with new people. Allow yourself to befriend people who are outside of your normal network. In fact, it would be great to form a network of support with people who have already done what you would like to do. If your vision is for something that has never been done, form a network with people who are accustomed to breaking records or inventing new things. 

Even though letting go of your existing identity is a huge undertaking, it is possible. People and companies do it every day. Your identity is from your past. Holding on to the past is a guaranteed strategy for repeating the past and making a breakthrough look impossible. Embrace the person you are becoming and always know that who you are becoming is always more valuable than who you have been.

Please leave your thoughts below.


  1. I see your point. I have been encountering a series of life changing events recently that quite frankly if you would have asked me five years ago would I have been able to achieve them I would have said no. However when I visualize myself in new positions and then I put the necessary action behind these visualizations I find that they almost always come to pass. I am now dealing with defined fears that to your point were defined by my past and environment I was born into and it is sometimes hard to overcome them as these memories replay in my mind so vividly that I sometimes find it hard to shut the recorder off in my mind. It seems as if many self help gurus always speak of the steps necessary to make change in the future but they very rarely cover how to erase or subdue environmental memories (from our past) that plague us as we proceed to the future we wish to have. Can you elborate on this further? How do we shut these predisposed environmental memories off if we are able to move into a new future for ourselves?

  2. This is a very good question because it happens to everyone at some point.

    First, I will say that the answer is never cut and dry. At first, it will appear complex to resolve this. What I say to my clients is that this process is like peeling an onion. If the answer is in the center, each layer will give you access to possibilities that were nonexistent for you. By the time you get to the center of the onion, you will have developed a new mental model.

    Second, simply suppressing your identity is ineffective and will most likely rob you of your freedom. You are essentially hiding from your past. Additionally, it is difficult to have power for what you want when you are using it to suppress what you don’t want. When you have power, you can effectively choose between your past and future instead of being overpowered by the past.

    So, thirdly, it is best to confront your past while armed with tools to navigate yourself. All complex endeavors require tools and structures. Otherwise, you face the possibility of continued frustration when you arrive at certain points. It sounds like you are at that point. What I am getting at is that sometimes you have to go back to go forward. You have to be aware of your past and understand it to move beyond it. What you want is power and the ability to move forward in the face of your past.

    Fourth, build a network of support that can engage you with the kinds of conversations and thought processes you will need to move to this next level. You can call it your mastermind crew. In addition, I would highly suggest someone like myself who would serve as your coach and be fully committed to your success. In fact, I would be more committed to your success than you are.

    To give your answer true justice, I would have to write a book. To most effectively help you, it would be best to work with you one on one. That way you would have the greatest benefit to practically apply the tools. And we could get to the source of what is derailing you. Sometimes getting to the source is the best way to unlearn the network of conversations our environment has given us. However, once you unlearn them, you will have to replace it with something else. Hence, the reason many people slide back into their comfort zone.

    Let me know if this helps you. Look forward to your response.


  3. Hi Camille,

    Did my response to you help you?