5 Things that Keep You from Being Your Best & How to Address Them

“An Achilles heel is a deadly weakness in spite of overall strength, which can actually or potentially lead to downfall. While the mythological origin refers to a physical vulnerability, idiomatic references to other attributes or qualities that can lead to downfall are common.” – Wikipedia

What is your Achilles heel? Delegation? Short-temper? Statistics and analytical analysis? I doubt you’ve reached your current executive position without understanding your weaknesses and knowing how to deal with them. There’s also a significant possibility, however, that you’re failing to reach your full potential—or may even be experiencing a significant failure—and don’t even realize what’s at the root of the problem.

You often have to look pretty deep to discover that a problem you’ve come to live with (often believing it’s part of your personality or innately “you”) is holding you back and needs to be dealt with. Following are 4 issues that fall most often into this category, how they can affect you, and what you need to know to address them:

  1. Fear—It comes in many forms; but true fear is that uncomfortable feeling you get about someone or something you feel could potentially bring you harm. Some fear is natural. Where this becomes an issue is when you allow yourself to become so fearful of “potential hurt,” you avoid anything with risk. This can be very detrimental to a leader because it’s your job to take calculated risks in an effort to reap associated benefits.

According to a recent Forbes article, there are 3 ways executives can address and overcome a fear of risk:

Accept it as part of the job—Focus your mindset on risk being a natural part of your day; simply think of it as part of the job description

Thoroughly examine the market—Research will help you see what your customers want or how promising an opportunity really is, and that helps prevent costly mistakes

Be Smart—Depending on the level of associated risk, you must always make sure to protect yourself; get a lawyer and thoroughly protect your assets

  1. Insecurity—The first goal with insecurity is to understand that it’s different from fear. Fear is externally sourced while an insecurity comes from within. It usually stems from an incident or long-term situation, and many executives who’ve become very successful will admit to an insecurity of some sort.

Real Estate mogul and panel member on the Shark Tank, Barbara Corcoran, recently admitted to insecurity in an interview. When asked how she overcame it, she responds: “It’s so hard to shake those things you carry with you from your childhood and past. But if you have something like that inside of you, wrap your arms around it and make it your friend. Find a way to use it. Insecurity makes you run. What’s wrong with that?”

  1. Lack of Trust—It’s a hard thing, especially when people have let you down. But, if you don’t have trust for your people, then letting them do their jobs is especially difficult. And, if they can’t do their jobs, it means you taking it all on your shoulders. This path only leads to hurt. Trust will only come when you actively work on it and allow it to grow. No one says it has to be all at once, but it does need to happen.
  1. Personal Involvement—The title of a recent article in Fox Business reads: “Every Leaders Achilles Heel.” The subject? Allowing oneself to get too involved. It’s so understandable how it can happen. After all, your leadership comes with the passion you put behind it; giving anything less than 120% just doesn’t cut it. So, when things don’t go as planned, it’s very difficult for many senior executives to cut the strings and make a clear distinction between self and goal.

What makes us prone to such behavior? The author of the Fox Business article says, “Actually, the culprit is that we fall victim to one of the most insidious pitfalls in the business world: Hubris. Overconfidence. Success makes us think we’re infallible. And we somehow forget the age-old adage that past performance is no indication of future results.”

Is there a way to overcome hubris? The author made no mention of a method, but I have my own recommendation. We all need someone who balances us out. Someone who we trust to call us out on bad habits and encourage the good. Whether that person is a friend, a mentor, or a coach, it’s always a good idea to have someone who can hold the mirror for us.