Saturday, October 31, 2009

Getting Out of Our Own Way

By Gary Cohen
As a professional executive and career coach, a common thread I find with clients is that they create many of the obstacles that get in the way of achieving their goals. This sounds crazy! If we are determined to achieve our goals, why would we sabotage ourselves along the way? Most, if not all of us, will experience this phenomenon at some point in our lives, but may not even be conscious of it. I was certainly in this position and through the help of my coach, began moving forward and eventually overcame my own obstacles to achieve my goals. Why do we get in our own way and what role does a coach play in helping us navigate around these self-imposed roadblocks?
Often times we get in our own way because of some kind of fear – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of rejection…and the list goes on. The easy way to avoid facing our fears is to practice self-sabotage, and remain nestled in a little cocoon known as our comfort zone. Sometimes remaining in a place where we really don’t want to be is more secure than venturing outside of our comfort zone and going after what we really do want in our lives. Fear is a powerful force that must be confronted head-on to overcome obstacles. When we allow fear to take over, we actually relinquish control over our destiny. Fear holds us back, keeping us from stretching outside of our comfort zones, a key ingredient to personal and professional growth.
We develop specific fears for numerous reasons, far too many to mention in this article. The good news is that everyone has the capability to overcome their fears and get out of their own way, clearing a path for the creation of positive personal and professional changes in our lives. There is nothing better than pursuing our passions without self-sabotage. A professional coach helps us navigate through the obstacles we have created, jump-starting us when we are stuck and accelerating our progress toward achieving our goals. This is achieved through guided self-discovery, with the coach asking powerful questions, challenging the client and creating a new level of accountability. This is accomplished in a safe environment for the client, with the feeling of partnership and support.
Even the best in their field can benefit from a coach. Tiger Woods, arguably the best golfer in the world, has a coach. Professionals hire a coach for a couple of reasons. One is that they have difficulty seeing their own mistakes and the other is the belief that we must continue to improve and get better on an ongoing basis to experience personal and professional growth. Many of the best and brightest in their fields work with a coach, so if you choose to do so, you will be in excellent company.
Gary Cohen is a faculty member at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and a principal of Forward Action Coaching, LLC where he specializes in executive, career and family business coaching. Contact Gary at and visit Forward Action Coaching, LLC at