Do Personal Issues Sabotage Your Professional Success? - Column #157
Some like to believe a distinctive barrier separates our personal and professional lives. If you step back and take an honest look at your experiences and those of others you’ve worked with, that’s clearly not the case. It’s common, in fact, for people to lug their personal baggage through the front door of a business, unpack and spread it around the workplace.
Each of us travels between two connected worlds — personal and professional. When there’s balance, contentment, purpose, success and happiness in life outside business, the attitudes and behaviors people bring to the workplace are different than when this is not their reality.
Business owners, managers and anyone else in leadership roles exert the largest effects — positive or negative — in the workplace. Team members look to these individuals for direction and guidance. When a leader is lost in personal issues or unable to separate from them on the job, the entire team will be affected to some degree. A noticeable funk can easily overcome a department or even an entire business.
Relationship issues, parenting challenges and extended family matters constitute common occurrences in the lives of everyone. These real issues often weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of those affected. When not managed effectively, they can have a negative and even lasting effects on attitude, morale, performance and ultimately business operations.
Compound this with such additional circumstances as financial troubles, health problems, lack of purpose and fulfillment and the despair that often accompanies them, and you have a recipe for disaster through dysfunctional behaviors. Who you are at work directly affects the team members, customers and bottom line in profound ways.
As a business coach and consultant, I’ve witnessed top performers lose all sense of direction and focus due to mounting personal issues and their inability to deal with them in a constructive way. Even after years of dedicated work, it can be a quick slide from the top when personal challenges overwhelm your ability to function at the high levels to which you and others have grown accustomed.
An increase in errors and customer dissatisfaction — often due to a lack of focus and disengagement — coupled with loss of revenue and negative effects on the work environment can only be tolerated for so long before a team member must be let go. This doesn’t have to be the case, however.
Personal life challenges belong solely to the person having them — not everyone at work and certainly not to customers patronizing the business. One powerful strategy is to view work as a “timeout” from personal challenges. By devoting your attention and energy to the work at hand, you give yourself a much-needed break from the painful reality of your personal circumstances as well as an opportunity to feel better as you excel professionally.
I’m in no way suggesting anyone should deny or avoid the challenging realities of their personal lives. My position is quite the opposite. My approach simply suggests there’s an appropriate time and place for dealing with difficulties in life, but that place is not at work.
Seeking out the professional help of a qualified coach to get yourself and your life in balance and on track, constitutes a wise choice indeed. It’s amazing what can be accomplished with simple changes in perspective, increased awareness, goal setting and accountability supplied through the unbiased support of a competent coach.
People often believe they should just “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” because getting assistance with life challenges constitutes a sign of weakness. This is often a difficult, lonely and unsuccessful route. If you find yourself challenged to take back your life on your own, there’s no shame in that. Remain open to help and get the assistance you need.
Unexpected, unwanted and truly challenging situations are part of life for everyone. They can be difficult, but don’t have to damage or even destroy careers or businesses. If your ability to function at a high level and be successful and happy is compromised by issues in your personal life, get the assistance you need. That way, you can bring your best — not your baggage — to work. You, your team members and customers deserve nothing less.