Three Beliefs That Are Throwing You Off Balance

Have you ever scoped out a shoreline and marveled at a surfer riding a crazy big wave? Feet planted, arms sprawled wide, just giving ‘er in all of that ripped-body glory. Did you happen to notice how an ankle was tethered to the board? Surfers know that at any given moment, a wave can come crashing down on them and that being secured to their board is the best chance they have at getting back up after a total wipeout. 

When life is coming at you hard and fast, it may take a lot less than a tidal wave to knock you on your butt. It could be a snide remark from a friend or colleague, a missed deadline, one too many late-night log-ins, or an argument at home. Little things may be tripping you up, but there are some problematic belief systems lurking behind those triggers that are the real reason you’re feeling off-balance.


What’s Holding You Down?

Think of your belief systems as the tether that can keep you grounded when life’s waves get tumultuous. To improve your leadership and help you gain a sense of inner peace, this blog identifies 3 flawed beliefs that could be responsible for tossing you off balance. Let’s dive in!


1. You Gotta Do it All

You said yes to taking on that extra work assignment, but you still have to pick up dry cleaning, make dinner, workout, show up for your book club, and apply for that new position at work—you know, the one that pays a bit more but also requires you to be available on weekends and evenings. Oh, and you still have to clean the house, call your mom, and…and…and… Whew! That may have been tiring to read, but, for many people, this is life day in, day out; just one long, never-ending to-do list. If you can’t seem to catch a moment’s rest, or if rest comes served with a side of super-sized guilt, you may be running on the belief system that doing the most leads to success. But is this true?


If you look up that list of to-dos again, you’ll see that there is not a single item on there that is problematic on its own. In fact, those things (and so much more) are the little events and tasks that make up life as we know it. The problem arises when you develop the thought that you have to do it all. Oftentimes, you don’t recognize that you have a problem until you’re stressed out, bummed out, burned out, or lashing out.


To effectively lead your team, maintaining and promoting balance needs to be a constant practice. To demonstrate that you value the benefits of a healthy work/life balance, hold back from pressuring your employees to communicate outside of work hours. Also, try not to pile on more assignments than they can realistically handle. You may fear that removing the pressure from yourself and your team will result in a loss of motivation and missed targets, but let’s see what science has to say about this.


A recent study led by psychologists Kevin P. Madore and Anthony D. Wagner found that "when multitasking, individuals almost always take longer to complete a task and do so with more errors when switching between tasks than when they stay with one task.” Their report was actually titled “The Multicosts of Multitasking.” Countless neuroscience studies on this subject point to increased stress levels, breakdown of communication, and strained relationships as a result of taking on too much at once. The fact is, neither you nor your team can show up to work and do your best when your plate is too full and your focus is split.


2. You Gotta Be it All

One reason why some folks take on too much is actually linked to another flawed belief system: Feeling like you have to be everything to everyone. While feeling like you have to do it all is more about being on the move, feeling like you have to be it all is like constantly shape-shifting for the (perceived) benefit of others. Both acts lead to exhaustion and burnout, but feeling the need to present yourself in a way that doesn’t feel true to you is less about wanting to be successful and more about wanting to feel accepted.


You may not realize it, but saying yes when you shouldn’t, code-switching, and contorting your personality and values to serve others stem from a place of insecurity. People who engage in these activities generally feel like they’re not enough as they are. Lacking confidence may lead you to present yourself in the way you think people see you or want to see you. Whether you’re wrong or right about their assumptions about you isn’t the point, though. If you lack the confidence or are not given the freedom to act in a way that is aligned with your values and interests, it won’t be long before you feel unwell.


Leadership coach Dr. Hana-Meksem, notes that employers who practice acceptance, celebrate personal differences, and respect boundaries will have a positive impact on individuals who fear rejection or disapproval. She goes on to say, “Great leaders appreciate people as human beings with their uniqueness and natural imperfections. They perceive people as human beings with emotions and do not view them like robots.”


With that in mind, try your best not to conform to the expectations that others hold of you, and work to let go of any held expectations you have of others. People appreciate authenticity! Showing up as you are will free up much-needed emotional space and boost your leadership confidence.


3. Fear of Failure

In addition to thinking you’re not doing enough and that you’re not enough, there is the flawed belief that if you fail, you are a failure. Think back to when you were a child, or if you have children, draw on them for inspiration here. When a child is learning to talk, walk, eat with a spoon, or nearing just about any other milestone, the parent doesn’t scold the child for having trouble. Any missteps along the way aren’t seen as failures; rather, they’re viewed as a normal part of learning and development. Somewhere along the line, people develop a fear of failure that morphs into self-doubt.


Have you ever heard about the merits of failing fast? Studies have shown that failing quickly is better than continuing down a path of failure or moving forward with a potentially flawed process. When trying something new, stay positive and action-oriented. Don’t double down when things aren’t working or run away when things go awry. Instead, apply the following five steps:

  1. Have a vision 
  2. Pursue it 
  3. Assess your progress 
  4. Readjust if/when necessary
  5. Learn from the experience 


Leadership strategist Sunnie Gilles notes, “People are used to a culture that doesn’t tolerate failure, but failure is an essential ingredient for radical innovation. We need to encourage others to fail fast and safely. Then we need to glean lessons learned and disseminate the learning throughout the team as soon as possible.”

If you’re feeling down because you made a mistake, or if you’re so scared to fail that you don’t even want to make a move, try our reframing exercise. It will help you to see your failure as an opportunity to gain information. If you can turn that information into wisdom, you’ll experience better outcomes in the future. Plain and simple, the best thing you can do is take a chance, and if you fail, fail forward!


Want more?

To dismantle the beliefs that are holding you back from feeling and leading your best, join our next cohort of the Conscious Leadership Experience now. We’ll help you make the right changes for your life and leadership goals.