July 15, 2024


Sabotage keyWhen you hear the word “sabotage”, what comes to mind? Some may remember the Beastie Boys tune: “Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage.”

Or maybe that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie from earlier this year? (You didn’t see it either?)


verb: sabotage; 3rd person present: sabotages; past tense: sabotaged; past participle: sabotaged; gerund or present participle: sabotaging

1. deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct (something), especially for political or military advantage.

synonyms: vandalize, wreck, damage, destroy, cripple, impair, incapacitate;
obstruct, disrupt, spoil, ruin, undermine, threaten, subvert

I’m guessing you don’t consider yourself a “saboteur” (one who sabotages), yet I think we are all such vandalizers on a regular basis.

Ever dieted? Did it work? Why not? Because you sabotaged the exercise.

Ever try to change a habit that didn’t serve you well? Bingo! You sabotaged!

I bet you’ve even recognized the trait, sometimes with that “palm to forehead” response. “Damn,” you tell yourself. “Why’d I do that?!” Sound familiar?

You’re not alone.

We all have within us what I like to call the stasis manager. It lives in our Knower/Judger, that part of us filled with knowledge and answers and filters that guide most of our reactionary behavior. Changing a habit (dietary or otherwise) challenges the status quo. It takes us out of our comfort zone. So this stasis manager raises its ugly head and sabotages (or employs any of the other synonymous verbs listed above) our efforts to shrink, improve, lower our golf score, stop smoking, refrain from hitting our loved ones, and make almost any other substantive change to our behavior.

Most of our habits are based on learned beliefs. I find mine are mostly conditioned.
For example the sales profession is not an admirable livelihood. Why do I know that? I was raised by a scientist/engineer and a stay-at-home mom. Salespeople were not to be trusted. The term “snake oil” always flitted around conversations about salespeople. I’ve just learned that selling is not how I’m supposed to make a living.

How does sabotage manifest itself? Let me count the ways.

1. I just fail… can’t do it… I hang up the phone.
2. Drama of some sort generates stress… “I can’t talk to a prospect feeling like this.”
3. Distraction… doorway meetings
4. Paperwork
5. Anticipated rejection
6. A 500-pound telephone

And when I fall off the wagon, I’m really pissed at myself… I beat myself up… like I’m two people: the one who failed (like a little kid) and the one who’s critical (the angry parent).

Fail… beat self up.
Fail… beat self up.
Fail… beat self up.

Sound familiar? And I’m not just talking about the selling thing. I’m talking about all the little changes we try to make to “improve” our outcomes.

Not picking on our sibling? “Damn, I wish I hadn’t mentioned my sister looked pregnant.”

Ate a hamburger? “You coulda had a V-8.”

Got another speeding ticket? Crap! “Now I’ve got to come up with $125 for this.”

Hung up the phone before the prospect answered it? “How will I ever make a living?”

You can tell you’ve been sabotaged by the palm print in your forehead! And the pattern’s pretty much the same every time!

What to do about this? I step outside my belief—I call it exploring the doubt—and I pick up some new data.

Not being raised by a salesman, and clearly never thinking of myself as one, I have in the past been quite hesitant going into situations where I want to get someone else’s money for something I have or something I do. I see others walk in, make a pitch and walk out with the order, but I’ve never seen myself as that person. That’s my Knower/Judger perception of me… my “life script.”

So there, right in front of me is data that my belief is not accurate. And we all do this every day. People even make a living out of doing what I can’t see myself doing. Yet my Knower/Judger jumps in and demands I just pick up the phone one more time, or knock on one more door. For me it could be terrifying. Common wisdom (and Nike) says, “Just Do It!” No wonder it sabotages my process. This is so far out of my comfort zone that my stasis manager cannot allow it to continue. In my younger days I would walk away from a door and sit in my car rationalizing that, for this reason or that, this prospect wasn’t going to buy from me.

“What if the prospect was really looking for my product or service?”, I ask myself. Can I work up enough courage to doubt my doubt? I have found that by simply questioning my own K/J belief (which I did not necessarily see as negative, but just as “the way it was”), I was able to do more, connect more, alter the life script a little and recognize incremental success.

Once I explored the doubt and examined some new data, I could put the process a little closer to where I was comfortable and maybe keep the sabotage at bay.

In order to prevent the sabotage, I need new data. In order to access that data, I want to question the belief that hides it. Once I finally see around or through or behind that belief, the chances for sabotage are significantly reduced.

… and my forehead feels better.


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