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Why My Client Felt Like a Failure

To all those observing from a distance, Kathy is a very successful leader. She runs a department including fifty people in five different and remote locations. As you can imagine, Kathy is a super busy individual.

In a conversation that I had with Kathy earlier this week, she told me that she feels unsuccessful and overwhelmed. Unfortunately, Kathy is not alone. These are sentiments that I hear from many leaders trying to juggle all of their responsibilities.

Why is Kathy feeling like a failure? Let me explain. Her organization mandated new and very aggressive targets which Kathy’s team is not meeting. Now Kathy, who is a self-proclaimed over-achiever, typically likes to exceed her goals, not just meet them. So, since Kathy’s team is falling short of these targets, she feels like a failure.

When we dissected why these aggressive goals are not being met, Kathy realized that it is not actually her fault. In fact, there are many extenuating circumstances hindering her success. These are factors that I refer to as “out of her sphere of influence”. For example, the fact that five people recently left the organization and now Kathy is not only short staffed but is spending a lot of time recruiting to replace them.

So instead of focussing on what Kathy cannot control, we decided to discuss what is “within her sphere of influence”. In other words, we discussed the factors in her environment that she can control or influence. We made a list of these items and then created an action plan to implement them accordingly. Kathy felt relieved once we reframed her world in this way. She no longer felt like a failure but rather she felt empowered to take control over her situation.

Now Kathy has a plan plus a new definition of success.

Think about a situation at work that is causing you some stress.

Make a list of the factors that you can control and start influencing those areas!

Let go of the stuff you can’t control.

This is quite a freeing process

Try it!

Vanessa Judelman

Vanessa Judelman is an author, coach, and sought-after leadership expert. Over the past 20 years, she has created a proven formula to develop results-oriented leaders who feel empowered and confident in their job. Vanessa is the author of Mastering Leadership: What It Takes to Lead in Today’s Fast-Paced World. Order your copy here.

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