Feb 222015 0 Responses

Sabotage: The Unknown Force Preventing Achievement

One of the greatest threats to accomplishing your goals is sabotage.

We understand the presence of sabotage when it comes to war. If we can drop behind enemy lines, infiltrate their camps, and continually sabotage their machines and missions without them knowing it, we would be more profitable than if we made a powerful strike against the enemy.

Sabotage not only prevents the enemy from accomplishing their mission, but it also erodes the morale of the opposition. They fail, but they don’t know why they fail. They blame one another for what is actually being caused by the opposition. (See: Leadership–Learning to Take a Punch)

A clear defeat to an opponent can galvanize an opposing army, causing them to fight harder. A failure, which appears like an internal inability, can destroy motivation and cause internal strife.

Most leaders fail to understand the presence of sabotage outside the theater of war.

In families, corporations, non-profits, churches, and even our personal lives, sabotage is a very present reality which a good leader must recognize and rebuff.

The struggle with sabotage outside the concept of war is that most of us never realize it is present. We don’t know the human tendency to sabotage so we are not on the look out for it. A good leader quickly recognizes the presence of sabotage and always knows it could be at work.

Sabotage originates in three places. The most obvious is from an enemy. This isn’t surprising and we often know to look for it. Your greatest opponent would probably love to disrupt your company or product. To prevent this from happening, we create security measures to protect sensitive data or important customers. Outside sabotage is always a threat and everyone realizes it.

But the other two sources of sabotage are surprising.

1. Friends and co-workers. Those closest to us can knowingly, or unknowingly, sabotage our best intentions. Sometimes they do so knowingly because they feel as though our relationship or their position may be threatened if we fulfill our goals. A friend may not want you to be promoted because they are afraid they will be left behind. A co-worker may not want a project to succeed because they are afraid a successful project might make new demands upon them.

Without consideration, we may never see that they are sabotaging our efforts even as we think everyone is working together on a project.

Sabotage occurs in the sub-conscious in most situations. Normally our friends and co-workers will not intentionally sabotage our efforts. Their actions will be intended for our good, but they will not result in our good. Well-meaning people, unaware of their true intentions, can do a great amount of harm without even knowing it. While trying to support you, they can actually harm you. (See: You Always Have an Excuse)

A good-hearted mother-in-law might want nothing more than the success of your marriage. However, in attempting to support you, involving herself in your conflict might prevent you from learning how to communicate.

A faithful employee might desire your success, but by continually watching out for you, they might overlook the important task you need them to accomplish.

A good boss desires your career success, but your advancement could make her life more difficult—losing a trusted ally, having to replace you, and taking the time to train a new employee. While she wants you to move up the ladder, she may unknowingly hinder you rather than help you.

A good leader does not look at his friends or team with skepticism. She isn’t paranoid. But good leaders are aware of the human tendency to sabotage, even those that are closest to us.

2. Self. We can unknowingly sabotage our goals or desires. This self-sabotage often takes place without any awareness by the person. Yet even if we connect our poor decisions with negative consequences, this does not ensure we will stop the behavior. It is not unusual for a person to know the actions which they are taking hinder their progress, but they continue making those decisions anyway. (See: You Are Preventing You)

Sometimes our self-sabotage is the result of a mis-belief we have chosen:

  • We tell ourselves we are not capable of losing weight or regularly exercising.
  • We believe success is the result of luck rather than hard work and opportunity.
  • We are convinced we are being punished for bad choices and can never overcome our past.

On other occasions, self-sabotage is expressed in the excuses we make:

  • We intentionally fill our schedules so that we think we are too busy to work on our long-range goals.
  • We procrastinate on an assignment and then think, “If I had more time I would have done a better job.”
  • We believe we deserve a special meal after a long work day even though we are trying to lose weight.

Our excuses are often nothing more than self-sabotaging behavior. They are ways we justify to ourselves and others a diversion from what we believe to be our major goals. While we may not realize it, we are simply sabotaging ourselves. (See: What If Your Excuse Is Actually Your Advantage?)

If we were at war, we would be well aware of the possibility of our enemy infiltrating our camp and sabotaging our weapons or missions. If we regularly ran into problems, we would begin searching for the saboteurs knowing something is wrong.

Sadly, we often overlook the presence of sabotage within our daily lives. From friends, family, and even ourselves, we can experience sabotage. This isn’t the result of evil hearts, but is a simple reality of human deception. We often hurt those we are trying to help—even ourselves.

By recognizing the presence of sabotage and the human tendency to sabotage, we can check our hearts, motives and actions. This can allow us to better help those we love, serve those we lead, and take meaningful actions toward our ultimate goals and desires.



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