Have you ever felt a sense of guilt because you couldn’t make things work? Then you think…If I just try harder? Then you become fatigued? And then you want to quit? Finally, the cycle starts over again, and again, and again…
Author John Ortberg has a name for this cycle – he calls it the “Cycle of Self-Defeat” in his book, The Me I Want to Be.
My father died when he was 57 years old. His passing meant that I was the new leader of the family business. So, here I was, 20 years old, leading five employees, all of which were older than me. Plus, I discovered that the business was carrying a huge amount of debt.
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
In those early years, it was very hard to make it all work. Over time, I learned what to focus on for success. Perhaps as crucial, though, was learning what to avoid.
Every leader can escape the cycle of self-defeat by avoiding these common leadership traps.
Focusing on the wrong things
There are some common misconceptions about leadership out there. What some people see as “good leadership” is, in fact, limiting the effectiveness of the leader and the success of the organization.
I often thought that emphasizing certain things would help my leadership and my company. I learned, however, to avoid the following:
- Embracing fads and engaging management hoopla aimed at “motivating the troops”, rather than confronting the brutal facts
- Using a crisis to persuade “unmotivated” employees to accept the need for change
- Thinking that success was reached through brilliant and complex strategic plans
- Focusing on beating the competition as a primary business growth strategy
- Making a major acquisition as a way to increase growth and diversify away from the current troubles of the organization.
- Defining profit or shareholder wealth as the first and foremost goal of the organization
Focusing on the wrong people-matters
People are the engine of any organization. When you stop and think about it, they are also the heart and soul of what you are trying to achieve. Here’s some wrong thinking about people that can limit your leadership and the success of your company:
- Jumping right into action, before you get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats
- Thinking that a high-profile, charismatic leader will solve the organization’s problems
- Introducing fear-driven change – using the fear of seeing others win, or the fear of encountering monumental failure. (Fear doesn’t effectively drive change, but it does perpetuate mediocrity.)
- Assuming the values and guiding principles of another successful company should be adopted as your own set of core values. (The core values of an organization are unique. They are reflected in and through its people and most importantly through its leader.)
It all boils down to things and people. Are you focused on the right things? Are you attentive to the people in your organization?
You might be stuck in the Cycle of Self-Defeat.
One way to break the Cycle of Self-Defeat is to learn who you are. And knowing who you are starts with understanding your Core Values. We will dig into that topic soon!