There is a difference between self-sabotage and other negative tendencies. Emotions, such as anger, for example, is obvious. So is impatience.
Self-sabotage appears dressed up in ways we may not label as sabotaging acts:
- Procrastination. We all procrastinate, or avoid tasks — but to what degree? Some people will say they thrive on last—minute pressure, ‘it’s when I work best!’, they proudly proclaim. Regularly working under this pattern will inevitably result in missed deadlines, submitting less than optimal work and undue stress. Unfortunately, it also places pressure on team members involved and other colleagues. Mistakes are essentially waiting to happen. When this occurs, the manager will start questioning dependability. Can their employee be trusted with the next big project?
- Excuses are made. A mistake or an issue occurs, and excuses flow. Excuses and blaming others are frustrating ways of dealing with such issues and muddy the waters in finding the right solution. Instead, managers are looking for accountability, which sends the message employees are reliable, trustworthy, and can reflect and learn from mistakes, all critical for career progression.
- Giving up. When things get too hard, it can be tempting to give up. Self-sabotage says, ‘don’t bother, it’s too hard, you won’t make it, you can’t do it’. Succumbing to this attitude will only lead to missed career opportunities. If this occurs too often, managers will move onto employees who are up for a challenge.
- Fear takes over. Fear of judgment, failure, rejection, humiliation — the list goes on. Too much fear stops us from trying. Self-sabotage says, ‘you will fail and embarrass yourself’ or ’you will fail and be fired’. Fear paralyses us, and self-sabotage justifies our reactions to it. Without pushing through the fear, how can we empower ourselves, build resilience, competencies, and confidence to do it better next time?
- Controlling behaviour. Being too controlling not only stifles creativity, frustrates colleagues and induces anxiety, it also stops us from taking healthy risks. Without taking chances, we remain inside our comfort zones, and growth struggles to flourish. Over-controlling managers also prevent employees from learning and developing.