Bob had been able to hit all his targets and objectives for the last few years. His business development system was structured and working well. His clients were happy, his colleagues liked him, and his manager was optimistic about where Bob’s career was going. 

But Bob was unhappy when I met him at that conference years ago. And he couldn’t figure out why.

After presenting a workshop on goal achievement to Bob and about 50 of his colleagues, I was taking a minute to pack up my stuff and grab a tea. As often happens after a presentation, a few people were milling around me, asking additional questions, and making comments on something they had learned.

I spotted Bob just biding his time behind the group, waiting so he could have a private conversation with me (that often happens too!). When everyone had left, I smiled at him and Bob came forward.

“Nancy, I love all your information on goal achievement. I’m impressed with your system and see how I can implement it in my day-to-day.”

“That’s great,” I said, knowing the word “but” was coming.

And sure enough, it did.

“But, even hitting all my targets and being organized, I can’t seem to get ahead. And I find myself not wanting to extend my targets out of fear that I won’t hit them.”

Little did Bob know at the time how common this problem is.

So, we pulled up a couple of chairs and settled down to figure this out. For 20 minutes or so, I asked a few questions and Bob told his story, and it was impressive.

Yet, in listening to his words, I heard him circling around something he didn’t seem to realize was getting in his way.

“Bob, I’m hearing you describe a feeling of being between a rock and a hard place but you’re not sure what either of those things actually are.”

“Yes, that sounds about right.”

When I hear that state of mind, it usually means someone has unknowingly changed a useful habit or behavior they once had but, for one reason or another, stopped doing it. And in no longer doing it, they have inadvertently diminished their sense of motivation, groundedness or (worst case scenario) integrity.

After a few more questions, what I discovered was Bob had stopped his previous morning routine of either going to the gym or going to church (he was a devout Catholic). Clients and contacts had been asking him to go to breakfast meetings or have conference calls at the start of the day. 

Bob had agreed to those requests thinking that if he didn’t, there would be some type of negative consequence.

What Bob didn’t realize is that there were negative consequences anyway. By putting himself second, or lower, he was taking away some of the behaviors that had made him highly productive and motivated in the first place.

He had originally considered going to the gym and church things to do “when I have time” rather than understanding how important they were to his sense of self.

“But what if a client wants to see me at 8:00am when I want to be at the gym or church?”

“Tell them you already have an appointment but could meet them at 10:00. Or at the end of the day. That is exactly what you would tell them if you did have a client booked into that timeslot. It is okay to be your own ‘client’ when you need to focus on your mindset and mental well-being so you can have the determination and focus to do your job well.”

Bob committed to altering his schedule starting the following week. A month later, I got a phone call.

“Nancy, I’m so grateful to you for helping me see where I had lost sight of what was important to me. My concerns about clients being annoyed were unfounded and I’m already seeing my billables increase. I feel balanced and confident!”

Bob had not realized how important the gym and church were to him. He hadn’t made the connection between prioritizing his own needs so he could serve others exceptionally well.

Self-awareness isn’t abstract or woo-woo. It is the fundamental attitude that is the basis for all your actions.

Without self-awareness, and an understanding of who you are and what’s important to you, the ability to made effective decisions, stay focused and be motivated is severely impaired. You are more likely to be tossed around by the day to day of working life because your foundation is shaky.

The depth of your self-awareness equals your breadth of success. There’s nothing fluffy about that fact!

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