Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Realizing When You are Standing in the Way of Your Own Success & How to Fix it.

For months I've been imagining having these insightful magazine article + book based blog discussions with you guys and just never had a moment to put it into motion. I'm taking advantage of the fact that baby Tristan is on a play date to initiate this first post.

Last week I had to be observed during a 3rd grade math lesson I was teaching as part of the requirements for  my student teaching semester I'm completing to obtain my Masters degree in Elem Ed. In one word I BOMBED! It was painful, I had planned and planned and had this nauseating feeling the whole time prior to the lesson because it was my last observation to be graded on. You know how you just feel something is going completely downhill in the worst way possible, well this was a horrific avalanche and a lot of factors came into play. Obviously I know that realistically not every lesson taught in a classroom is going to be a great success, but you hope that the students walk away from it with some understanding. My confidence took a huge hit especially because math was never my strong point. Not only did I learn where I could have strengthened the lesson, I discovered some insight into myself. I realized that I tend to turn small mishaps into these grandiose life altering tragedies and then want to give up on whatever it is I'm struggling with.

In the May 12' Issue of  Marie Claire there was an article entitled "How to Get Out of Your Own way"  which talked about ways women are self-destructive when it comes to their own success, whether in the workplace or relationships.

 Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine Universoty's Graduate school of Education and coauthor Michael Patterson of the new book about self- defeating behaviors, Have a Nice Conflict discussed in the article this idea that : "To one degree or another, most of us have blind spots about our own behavior. These blind spots make it easy to find fault in others when things don't go our way, like blaming our flawed parents,  our crummy bosses or the entire world!--- and prevent us from seeing that often the person standing in our way of happiness and success is the person staring back at us in the mirror.

As my supervisor and I discussed where I could have improved, I held back tears and couldn't even look my cooperative teacher in the eye because I was so upset that I had received this "unsatisfactory" I just shook my head no, and lowered my head in embarrassment {like a child who knew they disappointed a parent} when she stared at me to get a feel for how I did. In my head I kept saying "WTF" throughout my entire collegiate experience I hadn't failed anything so what the heck happened? I took it to the next extreme and thought despite all my success as a Pre-K head teacher, experienced with creating curriculum and my 8 weeks of student teaching that I just wasn't cut out for teaching.

Yea I know I took it to the next level by basing my entire teaching career on this fluke of a lesson and tried to figure out where I went wrong: the math lesson was extremely hard for them to comprehend, it was the afternoon and harder to get them to focus and let's face it most of them are extremely smart but tend to be extra chatty.

 After thinking of every reason why it wasn't my fault it took me a day to realize what role I did play in the lessons failure and it had more to do with me personally and less with what was in my curriculum book. I let my nerves get the best of me and sort of jinxed myself by over analyzing the situation. Looking back at my past I realized that when I fail at things, or there's some sort of conflict I have a tendency to heighten the situation with unnecessary dramatics because I can't control my emotions {disappointment, frustration, anxiety, anger or sadness} or I end up wanting to jump ship all together. I remember in high school I was notorious for breaking up with a boyfriend and bailing on the entire relationship after an argument, assuming we just weren't right for each other, rather than trying to figure out how to fix the situation. Only to write him a pitiful note asking to work it out after a few hours of sulking, crying and sad love songs.

Arguments with my father in my late teen years always turned into these huge, teary-eyed screaming blow outs, that made my whole body tremble. In past discussions with bosses at work or with doctors treating my Crohns disease I would express my concerns so passionately that I would sometimes come off as insubordinate or a know it all because despite me being right they didn't like me questioning their authority. I even recall one manager saying I couldn't expect the promotion I was up for if I didn't change my attitude and act more like a team player. Even now as a married mom of two, I find it difficult to recognize when I'm wrong, honestly because most times I'm pretty sure I'm not. When my husband does call me out on something it really is hard to swallow and I can be a bit aggressive but to my credit I can suck it up and apologize.

Heidi Grant Alverson, a motivational scientist at Columbia University Business School, who writes the blog The Science of Success says "You have access to so much information that other's don't, like your past experiences, your beliefs about your own abilities, your fears and insecurities. All that extra data affects your interpretation of what you do --- so self defeating behaviors make more sense and seem more reasonable to you."  

So How do you Know if you are getting in your own way? The article suggests looking for a pattern of setbacks big or small in your life, like not being promoted knowing you are the most qualified or by figuring out why you haven't been in a long term relationship you've wanted for years and instead can't get past the third date. After you've gone through a list of excuses it recommends you look at your own behaviors. The first hurdle is to get  past our own blind spots and you can do so with the following steps:

4 steps were given to Clear Your Way:

  • Ask for an honest assessment from people you love & trust
  • Don't get defensive! accept constructive criticism to make positive change.
  • Live your ideal life for 10 minutes: If you want to embrace and find love, be a more loving person.
  • Be patient with yourself. Plan what you are going to do differently in order to make a new behavior automatic and realize it isn't going to happen over night.
I hope you guys enjoyed this post and would love to read your thoughts on how might you be standing in the way of you? I'd also love to know if you guys would like to see more magazine and book related posts to discuss.

Bunches of Xoxo's

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