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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

It's Not Them, It's You

I often meet professionals at a point of struggle in their careers. They come to me because they're stuck, and they want to get unstuck. What's so joyful about this line of work is that even though they're in the thick of it, working harder than other people and getting passed by for promotions, maybe experiencing some toxic politics, whatever it is, they're in a tough spot and they keep moving.

My clients want to progress, and they're prepared to put aside their own issues and do the deep work they need to get that next level opportunity. That's the benefit of being a career coach: people who hire me are ready and willing to put in the work to get to the next phase. But outside of my consulting work, I've also seen people who were struggling and didn't push through it. They didn't get the promotion, and they knew exactly why: it was someone else's fault.

You can't point fingers and get ahead

This type of personality is quick to declare that so-and-so was running their mouth, or someone was trying to sabotage their growth, or their boss had it out for them. They have a reason why they can't get ahead, and that reason is other people. If you're constantly pointing fingers, all you're doing is blocking your own view. Sure, maybe someone on your team is talking badly about you behind your back, but you can't dwell on that and obsess over it. If there's no way you can address it (and with these types of suspicions, you often can't), then the best course of action is to let them be little while you take the high road.

Is it a company-wide issue?

Now, a caveat here is that in some situations your workplace truly is toxic. I was talking to a client who was describing some instances of destructive, bitter workplace politics that happened on every level of the company. In a space like that, you're going to find advancement extremely difficult, because as you try to climb higher, you're going to keep getting pulled down by workplace drama. However, in my experience, workplaces like this are fairly uncommon. What's more likely is there's one person who sucks the air out of the room and makes things difficult, but the corporate structure can still work for you.

Own your own boulder

I remember a co-worker at my old job who walked around with a chip on her shoulder the size of a meteor. She had a boulder she dragged behind her of accusations and self-pity, and it was so draining to be around her that people would walk in the other direction when they saw her coming rather than talk to her about how someone had wronged her or had it out for her.

She couldn't own her own part in her issues, or at least set them aside and focus on getting past them. All she saw was other people. You have to be the kind of person who acknowledges the chip on your shoulder, accepts reality and works hard anyway. Make friends, be constructive, and be the kind of coworker you'd like to have. If all you're doing is walking around insisting that you're a victim, you're going to stay exactly where you are.

If you want support overcoming a tricky workplace dynamic or you need advice about a specific situation, let's connect. Click here to put a one-on-one consultation with me on your calendar, and we can get started.

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