I’m sure this has happened to you. You’re rushing out the door to a meeting, perhaps juggling your briefcase, coffee and keys, and you get stuck on something. It could be a strap wrapping itself around a door handle, a suit coat pocket getting stuck in a doorjamb… it’s amazing the many ways our clothing and accessories can stop us in our tracks.
But at least these grabs are obvious, and the way out is often as simple as opening the door and removing your coat. In other situations, the distraction and the way it hooks you are less obvious.
Take the co-worker who casually suggests you take the lead on a project that’s not really your responsibility, or the boss who sends you some papers to review without saying why or by when. And let’s not even discuss the sound of an incoming e-mail.
However, our self-generated grabs can be the most insidious. Even though you might not notice them, they can seriously hamper your personal and professional growth.
For example, have you ever read a promising job description and, before you even get to the Equal Opportunity statements, found yourself thinking of all the reasons you shouldn’t apply for it?
Chances are you’ve been grabbed. But fortunately, the way out is similar to freeing yourself from other fixes.
Just like when you’ve hooked your sweater on something sharp, the first step is to stop and take a good look at what’s going on. Moving too quickly could rip it or further entangle you, so proceed cautiously.
Before you answer your colleague about leading that project, be sure he’s not simply dumping his responsibilities on you. And when your boss asks for another set of eyes, is she really asking for some sort of cover? Maybe you’ll decide to participate and maybe you won’t, but making the effort to understand the situation is like pulling your coat out of the car door. It lets you move forward and still protect your time and reputation.
To address self-induced grabs, you need to notice just what you’re impaling yourself on. Is it a strain of perfectionism, as in “My sales record isn’t that good… ”? Perhaps it’s self-doubt, as in “I’m not really worth that kind of money.”
Whatever your grabs are, they’ll keep holding you back until you address them. Make this the time you finally open the door, take out those pesky bad thoughts, and set off on your way.
by Danielle Dresden