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Why Do Some People Try to Stop Others From Succeeding

3 Questions Answered in this Episode:

  1. Why would a leader not want someone in their charge to succeed?
  2. Are you subconsciously blocking your managers and employees from advancing?
  3. How do you deal with someone trying to stop your business from succeeding?

Thank you so much for listening to the Build a Better Business Podcast. I’m your host Jamie Irvine and just before we get started, I would like to remind you to sign up for my weekly email, each week I share the latest content I have produced to empower you to build a better business and I share additional information not found anywhere else to help you become a leader that dreams, a manager that leads, an employee that cares. Go to jamieirvine.ca/email and sign up today. That’s jamieirvine.ca/email.

Let’s get started with episode 94, entitled Why Do Some People Try to Stop Others from Succeeding.

In today’s episode there are three questions we will answer:

  1. Why would a leader not want someone in their charge to succeed?
  2. Are you subconsciously blocking your managers and employees from advancing?
  3. How do you deal with someone trying to stop your business from succeeding?

I was reading Dan Gregory’s book Personal Leadership Training Guide and I came across a thought-provoking few paragraphs.

Let me read them to you. (Read page 27 paragraph 1 – 4.)

Why did this information get my attention?

First, I’ve experienced this personally. Over the years I have been confused when managers or leaders have not responded favorably to my efforts to improve myself and the business I was working for.

I always assumed that people in leadership positions would take the “let the tide raise all boats” approach, meaning that I assumed people in leadership positions would want to help everyone in their charge get better because that would lead to the entire business being better which in turn would mean as the leader they would have done their job.

This also doesn’t only apply to individuals trying to improve themselves and facing opposition from people in a management or leadership role. When you are trying to grow your business, you will often also experience opposition from competitors naturally, but you might also face opposition from suppliers of competitors, entire communities, and even governments.

Second, I realized that as the leader of a business you might be holding people back without even realizing that underlying fear and subconscious motives were influencing your behavior.

Today, I want to examine this first from the perspective of the leader of a business who is holding individuals from advancing and second from the perspective a business leader who is trying to grow their business and is facing opposition.

The logical first question we must answer is why would a leader not want someone in their charge to advance and be successful?

I think the first reason is primarily motivated by a scarcity mindset that is fueled by fear. The leader or manager may feel that if a person is trying to advance, they are automatically trying to take something away from them or replace them as the manager or leader.

When we say it out loud it sounds so silly because it is obvious, at least to you and I, that when employees get better they produce more and this leads to the manager or leader being rewarded for guiding people in their charge to greater heights.

A scarcity mindset is a very negative force that can cause businesses to fail because if this is the way the leader or manager thinks, that scarcity mindset will spread throughout the entire department or business.

This is called a positive feedback loop which when fueling something negative despite its name produces greater and greater negativity until it finally causes the entire business to fail. The answer then is to use the positive-feedback loop to create greater levels of encouragement and positivity, an abundance mindset, where everyone in the business believes that there is more than enough for everyone if everyone supports each other and grows together.

As I said, I have personally experienced managers and leaders who are actively trying to keep everyone in their place to protect themselves from someone taking something away from them.

But, is it possible that we could think that we are doing everything possible to empower our people but subconsciously we are engaging in behavior that is blocking good people from making progress to the detriment of them and us?

Well, the short answer is YES, it is possible.

How can that happen?

Well, it can happen in several ways. Let’s review two of them now.

When we were children in our formative years, we inherited traits and qualities from our parents, genetics predispose us to certain behavior, but that is not the complete picture. Your genetic predisposition toward certain personality traits and tendencies is reinforced by the environment we are raised in.

Much of this is completely subconscious.

For example, I never met my biological father and yet much of what I say and do remind my mother of him to her chagrin. On the other hand, many of the things I say and do are a direct result of the influence of my step-father solely because of environmental factors. All of this is happening without me being aware of it until someone points it out to me.

It is very possible that we subconsciously are making micro-decisions that are being motivated by genetic predisposition combined with environmental influences. Self-awareness (which 95% of people think they have and only 10% do) is the solution to this problem. Just to be on the safe side assume you are in the 85 percentile of people who are not self-aware and ask trusted colleagues or mentors to help you by alerting you when you may be operating in a proverbial blind spot.

Another way this can happen is through honest intentions. Let me explain what I mean with a story from a few months after I sold my contracting business.

Part of the deal when I sold my business was that I would stay on as a consultant and help the new owners make the merger a success. One of the first things I did was create and implement a systematic approach to doing the work.

The employees that worked for me prior to the sale were familiar with this way of operating a business and were very supportive but there were a few employees of the business that purchased my company that was less than thrilled.

In time most of them saw the benefits and began to slowly support this new way of doing things. But there were some holdouts and things got tense. Now as a member of the leadership group I felt very strongly that we must be systematic in the way we performed the services we offered. This was non-negotiable and I was willing to let go anyone who persisted in doing things their own way. In the end, I did let two sub-contractors go.

This is where good intentions and honestly believing you are doing the right thing does not automatically create the best results and could inadvertently create a situation where someone is being held back unintentionally.

One of the sub-contractors just flatly needed to go and it was totally the right decision but the other sub-contractor that I let go really wanted to do things the best way and he consistently challenged the systems we had created. It was extremely frustrating at times because we had spent years developing these systems and many of his suggestions we had already tried, and we knew our way worked best. But sometimes he would suggest something that was out of the box and potentially could have been an improvement on the system we had established.

The problem was that by the time we got to that point our patience had run thin and we started to view him as a nuisance who was uncooperative which of course immediately meant we were not listening anymore. So, perhaps one of his ideas could have been a gold mine for us but because we were emotionally done, we rationalized letting him go by focusing on the perceived negative over the potential positives he could bring to the team.

The decision was made 2.5 years ago, and I have often wondered if I did the right thing. There is nothing I can do now of course but it has made me more aware of the possibility that despite my good intentions I can still make mistakes that could cause someone to be held back so I strive to be diligent to ensure that isn’t happening.

As business leaders, we are always looking to build a better business and that often involves growth, what do you do when someone is trying to keep you from succeeding?

I will answer that after we hear from our sponsors.

Before the break we asked the question, what do you do when someone is trying to keep you from succeeding?

It comes as no surprise when a direct competitor is trying to stop you from succeeding but have you ever considered that there may be other people who have a vested interest in your business staying at its current size or even disappearing altogether.

Of the top of my head I can think of a few, it is possible that a business in another industry is trying to disrupt the way you are doing things which means that if successful they will create an entirely new competitor altogether, of course also all competitors have suppliers, a supplier of a competitor may be interested in their distributors success over yours because you sell a competing product or you and your competitor may share a supplier and that supplier may want your competitor to succeed over you because of a personal relationship or some other reason.

Also, you may face opposition from a community, a special interest group, someone with a political agenda or even from a government agency with an agenda that conflicts with what you do.

Whatever the case is when facing this kind of opposition, the one commonality is that they don’t want you to succeed and you do so you need to have a strategy that will lead to success.

Here are a few recommendations to help you get started with developing a winning strategy:

1 – Stay calm and think objectively.

Easier said than done so include someone in your leadership group that can help you stay focused.

2 – Think critically and strategically.

Thinking critically primarily involves asking better questions and answering those questions with facts and logic. Being strategic involves elevating yourself to a position that allows you to see more than what is directly in front of you at ground level.

3 – Cooperation and peace are better for business.

For a time in my youth, I associated with outlaw bikers and even aspired of becoming one myself. I quickly decided that was a bad idea for me and chose another path. While I was hanging around bikers though I was taught many things, one lesson was that peace was better for business and war is expensive. So, if you can find a way to create reciprocity and cooperation with a competitor or some other opposing group you will do better in the long run.

4 – If you must fight, make sure you win.

This is a lesson I believe has been learned and reinforced in human history. The spoils go to the victor and if you have exhausted all efforts to create an environment of cooperation with a competitor and they are forcing you into a fight then it is important that you adopt an unflinching determination to win.

A word of caution:

Notice I didn’t say, “win at all cost.” I do not believe that it is ever appropriate or acceptable to break any laws governing the way you are expected to do business in your municipality, state/province, or country. On a long enough timeline illegal or unethical activity will become public knowledge and, on that day, any ill-gotten gains acquired are usually lost. Take the high road and win by outperforming, outthinking, outmaneuvering, and outclassing your competition.

So, to conclude today’s episode I will ask you two questions:

  • Are you embracing an abundance mindset and creating equal opportunity for all your employees to succeed?
  • Are you willing to take the high road and create an opportunity for your business to succeed regardless of what opposition you face?

On Tuesday, in episode 95, we have one of my favorite guests of 2018 Mr. Gregg Clunis returning and we have an in-depth discussion about his new book Tiny Leaps, Big Changes: Everyday Strategies to Accomplish More, Crush Your Goals, and Create the Life You Want.


This episode sponsored by:

Trackstar Web Design

Every business needs a website and I have used Gerrit and Trackstar Web Design since 2012 and so should you.

Process Street

I use Process Street to create systems in my business and I highly recommend that you use Process Street as well.


Thank you for listening and I look forward to working with you soon.

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