When Your Story Becomes a Broken Record


The other day, a client told me, “I have trust issues” as a way to explain why he micro-manages his team.

From his perspective, he couldn’t trust his direct reports, because other important people in his life had let him down.

As we spoke, it became clear that the micro-managing behavior was linked to how he and his team were perceived up the chain of command.

Any time he had to deliver something to his supervisor, he wanted it to be perfect.

And he drove his team crazy in his efforts to make it so.

So I asked him, “Is it that you have trust issues, or is it that you’re chasing someone’s approval?”

This resonated in a big way.

Wanting to be a “good boy” to get approval was translating into perfectionism at work.

Being hard on himself meant he was hard on others.

His team felt disdain and contempt, so they were losing motivation.

And his “trust issues” story was playing like a broken record — not longer effective.

Thinking it was trust issues meant that he was looking for reasons why his team were underperforming.

That became a self-fulfilling prophesy.

They underperformed.

Once he tried on the idea that he was creating the dynamic, he had the freedom to change his energy and his behavior.

He could imagine himself getting the approval he sought.

Which meant that he could own a level of quality in his work that felt solid, and right, to him.

Then he could communicate expectations to his team in a way that wasn’t fraught.

Much clearer and much more motivating.

It’s normal to want to feel ‘done’ with personal and professional growth, but learning is lifelong.

If you’re looking for a boost, you may be craving some spring cleaning around your own growth. Take some time to explore your “go to” stories.

You may find that little shifts in thinking can go a long way.


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