YOU are Your Own Worst Enemy
Who doesn’t want to perform admirably in business and enjoy an exciting success? We all want to move ahead and be rewarded for our accomplishments. We all want to develop our talents and skills and be respected. We’d also like to find meaning in our work. But today’s fast-paced, highly competitive world of business is challenging. It is not easy to make oneself into a superior performer. In truth, most people do not come anywhere near reaching their full potential when it comes to workplace effectiveness. Despite their best intentions and worthy efforts to improve themselves, many people fall short of being the superior performers they would like to be. They fall behind others who actually outperform them. They do not move ahead. They end up earning less money than they feel they are worth. Their jobs do not bring them the satisfaction they crave. What could be the difficulty?
What holds people back from performing better in the workplace?
The truth is that from time to time everyone will stumble over some personal ﬂaw and fall ﬂat on his or her face. We are all vulnerable to self-defeating behaviors that can hurt us and hold us back. While others are the source of much of the pain and irritation we encounter at work, and while circumstances often conspire against us, it is we, ourselves who are at the heart of our difficulties. Even the best of us will do things now and then that end up making us small, unproductive, dissatisfied. That’s the reason behind writing this blog article to show smart, capable, well-meaning people how their inner tendencies often lead to certain actions that make them their own worst enemies.
But, let us not focus on problems alone. Let us look at the methods all of us can follow to develop the inner strengths needed to overcome those foibles and frailties that defeat us in the workplace. Let us recognize the economic realities faced by working people, particularly single women who need an income to support a family. Most people are interested in earning more, which requires moving ahead to improve their economic situation.
To understand better what it is about certain assumptions, attitudes, and behaviors that make them limiting or downright destructive, we need to peer deeply into our human nature and consider more fully what it means to be effective, alive, and complete contributors in the workplace. Consider the universe and the tiny space occupied in it by the earth. What should capture our special attention here is the fact that ours is the only planet where life is known to exist. Life may exist elsewhere and in other forms beyond our ability to comprehend, but as far as we know it does not. We gain an invaluable sense of humility and respect for our human situation when we recognize that we did not create this thing called life. We are part of the cosmos but not the center of it. Still, we are unique and a useful part of our universe. It is because of these simple realities that serious minds regard all life as precious, something of immense importance and the work of an awesome source of power and wonderment. If we truly revere life, we will try to understand what its possibilities are for ourselves.
Life for human beings involves far more than the physiological processes of breathing, blood circulation, digestion, and reproduction. Unlike lower life forms that exist and function in a seemingly preprogrammed way established by what we believe to be genetic coding and instinct, human life involves more than mere physiology. Humans also live on another level, in another dimension. They have both an outside and an inside—they can assimilate more than just molecules of oxygen and food; they can be changed by ideas and they can create ideas and objects. Whereas one bird or plant or fish or insect of a species is very much like the others of that species, we cannot say this of people. Each person is strikingly unique. Each person has a distinctive capacity for memory, self-consciousness, thoughtfulness, purposefulness, affection, and creative expression. The differences that exist between people arise not so much from what each is given in terms of physical endowments but from what each person does with his or her native abilities. While some of our uniqueness can be accounted for by our differing physiological attributes, most of it comes from what we make of ourselves, from how we choose to shape our whole personality.
It is worth noting that each human being is capable of doing well or poorly with his or her self. Humans have the power to make themselves into something admirable or allow themselves to degenerate into something despicable. Humans are unique in that they are the only living species with the capacity to act in both self-destructive and self-nurturing ways, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. In other words, humans can choose to act in ways that make themselves either more or less fully human depending on how well they use or don’t use their human capabilities, and whether they develop them or let them deteriorate. Whereas plants and animals develop into the creatures they were designed to become from birth, humans have the unique capacity and opportunity to shape themselves into the personalities they would like to become. These basic ideas lead to an important insight: We are self-creating creatures who work with what nature gives us and we shape ourselves into the persons we are capable of becoming.
Let us examine patterns of workplace behavior by which people can injure themselves as persons. You will see how humans can sometimes act in ways that make themselves either less or more effective by what they believe and choose to do. What is a basic framework for better understanding what it is that makes humans what they are, unique creatures with amazing powers of thinking and feeling, of choosing and creating, of loving and reverencing. People become their own worst enemy whenever they refuse to accept their gifts of life—the dimensions that compose their humanity. There is only one way to accept these gifts of life completely and that is by acknowledging them, using them, and perfecting them to their fullest. We cease being our own worst enemy when we use and nurture our human endowments—our free will, our powers of thought, our ability to act, our capacity to love others, our creative impulses, our ability to improve, our willingness to work, and our capacity to be in awe of realities greater than ourselves—for the benefit of ourselves and others.
In my next article, I’ll write about developing inner strengths to overcome our self-sabotaging behaviors. Stay tuned!