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Do Personal Issues Sabotage Your Professional Excellence? - Column #187

Marcus Straub
Marcus Straub

Each of us travels between two worlds — personal and professional. When there’s purpose, balance and happiness outside of business, people enter the workplace very differently than when this isn’t their reality.

Some believe a barrier keeps personal and professional lives separate. But if you step back and take an honest look at your experiences and those of others with whom you’ve worked, you know that’s not the case. If anything, it’s more common for people to carry their personal baggage through the front door at work and unpack.

Extended family matters, parenting challenges and relationship issues are among the real issues that often weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of those affected. When they’re not managed effectively, those issues can affect attitude, morale and performance — and, in turn,  business operations.

Add such aggravating circumstances as financial or 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 customers, team members and the bottom line in profound ways.

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 leaders are lost in their personal issues or unable to separate from them on the job, entire teams will be affected to some degree. A noticeable funk can easily overcome the department or even the business.

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 people’s ability to function at the high levels to which they and others have grown accustomed.

An increase in errors and customer dissatisfaction —often due to a lack of focus and disengagement — coupled with a loss of revenue and the 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 experiencing them, not everyone at work. And certainly not to the customers patronizing the business.

One powerful strategy is to view work as a timeout — an escape —  from personal challenges. By channeling 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 people 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 a place for dealing with the difficulties in life. In all likelihood, that place is not at work.

People often believe they should just “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” because seeking assistance with their life challenges shows weakness. This is often a difficult, lonely and unsuccessful route, however. If you find yourself challenged to take back your life on your own, there’s no shame in that.

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.

Unexpected, unwanted and truly challenging situations are part of life. They can be difficult, but don’t have to damage or even destroy a career or business. If issues in your personal life compromise your ability to function at a high level and enjoy success and happiness, make the strong choice to get the assistance you need. Then you can bring your best — not your baggage — to work.

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