The other day, I got an email from a client that included her year-to-date profit and loss statement. She wanted me to see that she has doubled her income since we began working together at the beginning of 2016. She is proud. She is also terrified.
Deep down, she is terrified that if she continues to outearn her husband, he won’t like that and their marriage will suffer.
This inner drama has been spilling over into her life in all kinds of unintended ways.
Lately, she’s been doing things like canceling events and dropping the ball on certain projects, pissing off her clients, which is totally out of character for this woman. She’s been telling herself, “I’m not smart enough to run a business… clearly, I can’t handle it.”
With her words (to herself) and her actions (impacting her clients), she’s been quietly sabotaging herself because she’s afraid of becoming “too successful.”
This pattern is surprisingly common. I’ve seen this storyline play out in hundreds of different variations for so many clients. Women, in particular, tend to feel terrified of becoming “too much” or shining “too brightly.” We allow our fears to run wild, twisting our sense of reality, until we’ve convinced ourselves that “success” is a really bad idea.
“If I stop drinking, then my friends won’t want to hang out with me.”
“If I get this opportunity, then I’ll need to travel more, and my partner will be annoyed.”
“If I triple my income, that’s going to end badly somehow because I suck at managing my money.”
“If I lose a significant amount of weight, my spouse might feel threatened and it won’t be good for our relationship.”
“If I started doing TV appearances and high-visibility media stuff like that, then I’ll be subjected to public scrutiny and criticism, and I can’t handle that.”
In his book The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks writes about a phenomenon that he calls “the Upper Limit Problem.” Here’s an excerpt:
“When you attain higher levels of success, you often create personal dramas in your life that cloud your world with unhappiness and prevent you from enjoying your enhanced success. This is the Upper Limit Problem at work.”
Yup! Perfect description. He nailed it. Bosses: the Upper Limit Problem is REAL.
The next time you notice yourself slipping into self-sabotage mode—eating poorly, oversleeping, running late, “forgetting” to answer important emails, binge-watching episodes of Outlander or House of Cards instead of pitching your services to potential clients, procrastinating, and so on—I want you to ask yourself:
“Why am I dimming my own light? What am I so afraid of reaching or achieving?”
Dig deep. Be honest with yourself. The answer might surprise or even shock you.
Then, just like Mary J. Blige, vow to yourself: “No more drama.”
Work on dissolving the negative thoughts that have been running rampant through your mind, replacing those thoughts with strong, empowering, positive ones. If you need some help doing this, then hire a therapist, hire a life coach, or find a mastermind group filled with ambitious women who are grappling with similar challenges, and who can share their experiences and solutions openly with you. Find your mentor, find your tribe, and start working on rising above that upper limit.
Here’s your new inner dialogue:
“I can create success. I can handle success. I was not born to shine ‘moderately’. I was born to shine FULL fucking OUT. Yes I can. Yes I will. There are NO LIMITS for me.”
PS. THIS LITTLE GIRL GETS IT. No “Upper Limit Problem” to be found here! LOL. She’s a role model for all of us!
P.P.S. I’m hosting a free class on Tuesday, October 17th, to help you rock your 4th quarter and finish 2017 feeling stronger than ever—with extra cash in the bank. Grab your spot right here.