The Case of Self Sabotage

I once knew a man who, outwardly, was a very successful businessman and a brilliant salesman. I worked with this man for many years and I always admired his enthusiasm and dedication to his business. He worked really hard – sometimes twelve hours a day and most weekends. This man was going places.

Outwardly he appeared to believe in himself and what he was doing. He knew that he wanted to be a millionaire and to run a large, successful company; and he knew how to get there.

I’ll be honest with you and tell you that I wanted to be like this man; he seemed so sure of himself and where he was going.

I’m only glad now that I didn’t follow too closely in his footsteps!

The first disaster came after I had known him for only a year. His business suffered a terrible setback and nearly went bust, resulting in him having to work even harder in order to save the company. I felt really sorry for his ‘bad luck’, but also somewhat puzzled about how the disaster could have happened in the first place. It seemed to me that he had made a number of fundamental business mistakes.

Then other ‘accidents’ started to happen. Some time after he had saved the business, things started to look really good for him. His enthusiasm increased and he redoubled his efforts to make a success of it. All the ingredients were there and the business started to take off.

Disaster struck again, and knocked him back down to a level lower than he had initially started from.

This cycle happened at least five times, and it became obvious to me that this was not a coincidence! No-one could have so much bad luck; it had to be sabotage! I watched the man carefully during all of this, and began to notice how he was subconsciously sabotaging himself to ensure failure.

That’s right! He was ensuring his own failure! Why? Because although consciously he was trying really hard for success, subconsciously he didn’t believe that he was worth it, and so consequently his subconscious took the necessary steps to ensure that he failed! This man did not have a Positive Self Image.

I watched him trying to sell a large order, at boardroom level, to a major Corporation; he was brilliant. The people liked him, they liked his company and his product; they were ready to sign an order worth tens of thousands of pounds. All he needed to do was to shut up!

Instead, to my horror, he carried on selling! He started inventing wilder and wilder reasons why they should give him the business, (they were ready to anyway). He went on and on and on…

At first, the gathered executives started to look bored, then incredulous. One or two even suppressed a laugh. In short, he had blown the deal and turned a certain order into a disaster.

Furthermore, he could not seem to understand what he had done wrong!

At another sales-pitch, I watched him sell over one hundred thousand pound’s worth of equipment to a major U.K. company. This equipment was to be distributed to every office of the company and would help them to increase sales. Again, he had closed the deal and they were ready to sign, but at this point he introduced his ‘master plan which, he explained to the assembled buyers, was one further reason why they should buy from him.

This ‘master plan consisted of a method of servicing the equipment, (located all over the country), at a low cost to the client.

His proposal? To use senior citizens to do the servicing, because, he explained, they had plenty of spare time and could make use of cheap rail concessions to travel to service calls at half price!

The assembled audience went very quiet, waiting for the punch-line – which never came. It gradually dawned on them that he was serious, and a few embarrassed coughs signalled the loss of another large order.

I haven’t seen this man for several years, but the last I heard he had lost his house and practically everything he owned. To this day, I’m sure that he still has no idea at all why he failed.

He’s probably starting another company right now, and hoping that he has better ‘luck’.

I have told you about this man in some detail because I want you to understand that it is not enough just to say that you believe in yourself; you must really believe in yourself.

It is not enough to work really hard towards your goals. As you have seen from my story, hard work brought my friend nothing but disaster.

To give a silly example: You could work hard all week long digging a large hole in the ground, then work hard all the following week filling it in again! You would have put two weeks of solid effort into something and achieved nothing!

Most people spend a lot of their lives digging holes and filling them in again.

As I said right at the beginning of this article, the actual work associated with achieving your goals represents only twenty-five percent of the task. Believing in yourself, believing that you are worth it, represents over 50% of the task. That is why I am dwelling on this important subject. If you do not truly believe that you are worth it, all your hard work will come to nothing. You will be like my friend, working hard, day after day, trying, striving and sweating towards your goals, when all along, your subconscious mind is assuring your failure.

No amount of effort on your part will assure your success. Not even luck will work. If your Great-Aunt Aggie left you a fortune, and yet you didn’t believe that you were worth leaving it to, then within a short while it would be gone, slipping away through your fingers, frittered away on useless schemes and ideas.

Regards,

Jim Sheridan

4 Responses

  1. Dave Geary

    An interesting article Jim, which makes your point very well. It does however beg for a solution. It’s one thing to identify and understand that low self worth often leads to subconsious self sabotage and failure. If you were afflicted with such a destructive and limiting condition, what would you do?

  2. Patricia Wall

    Good article. I am convinced that I have the same problem! So, why did the article end so abruptly?? What is the solution? Good self-esteem? Why not give a full accounting of the solution? How would this man, in the article, go about building his self-esteem? How does he begin to really believe in himself?

  3. Cheryl

    So what do you recommend to correct this? I am beginning to think that this is exactly my problem in a big way. I am extremely intelligent (although I admit I’ve made some decisions that appear to contradict that statement), ambitious, hardworking and so much want to experience the financial freedom I believe? I deserve. What do I do?

  4. Rod

    Great article Jim and I do believe that without self-esteem and knowing that you deserve it this does happen.I also believe to correct this the best way is to invest in yourself by the way of coaching. I also consider that the majority of people have this problem to some degree. You are who you hang with also. Thanks Jim


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