When we think about what prevents us from delivering on what we want to achieve at work, we often play out a number of scenarios in our mind.
The obstacles that we think about that might prevent us from taking action can be realistic, obvious and practical.
But sometimes, they’re none of those things.
When we analyse and consider less obvious concerns that might prevent us from delivering on a work-based project or achieving a work-based task, we can often dwell more deeply about things because we’re less certain and so there’s more risk.
Reaching a conclusion as to whether we should or shouldn’t go ahead with something can often feel, metaphorically, like following a maze. We work stuff out through following a path, and then readjust our route when we hit walls.
But how often do we challenge whether these walls actually exist? By that I mean, whether we truly think about whether these are genuine or fabricated concerns or whether they’re actually overly unrealistic worries that we’ve elaborated in our minds.
As a HR professional, I have found in my career that an obvious question I ask managers when they are concerned about addressing something with a member of their team is usually the same question I ask an employee who is concerned about addressing something with their manager.
My question to them, is – why do you honestly think this might be an issue?
I ask this because both manager and employee have created a problem during their thought process that they have rationalised, but in my experience is often based on an incorrect assumption, or a collection of assumptions along the way.
For example, the employee who won’t ask their boss if they can work flexibly because “they just know the answer will be a no” despite past experiences of being quite the opposite. Or the manager who can’t delegate a particular task to their deputy because they’ve “never done this task before” despite showing the aptitude and skill to be able to deliver on it comfortably.
These walls are often irrational and false, yet prevent good work or positive outcomes.
So why do we do this? Well, for lots of reasons, far too many to mention but we can do something about it. We can start to make this a more conscious problem for consideration. We can ask ourselves; am I really being honest with myself here, is that really going to happen, and why have I honestly reached this conclusion?
So next time you hit a wall, come at it from a different angle and ask yourself – does this wall really exist or is it simply of my own creation?