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Uprooting Negative Role Models [Dream Job Coaching]

Fulfillment @ Work

   February 21, 2006
   ISSN: 1533-3906


Success. We all want it, but how many of us know how to achieve it? The way many people talk about success might lead us to believe that it is one of the most elusive goals we can have.

Success is certainly elusive if you have the wrong expectations or, worse, no expectations at all. And it can be difficult to become successful if you don't have a plan or if you never get around to implementing your plan. Of course you're bound to miss success if you get poor results from your actions and stubbornly continue to do the same things again and again.

But there is a bright side to the success equation. Success can be yours:

~ If your expectations are realistic
and in line with what you truly want in life.

~ If you develop a workable plan
and implement that plan one action at a time.

~ If you change your approach when you find that your actions
don't produce the desired result.

And, if you run into obstacles at any point in the success process, consider talking with a coach or mentor who can help you get back on track to achieving the success you deserve.

Have a successful week,



My colleague and friend Romanus Wolter is launching his new book, Kick Start Your Success: Four Powerful Steps to Get What You Want Out of Your Life, Career, and Business.

Kick Start Your Success introduces readers to a simple four-step process for achieving important goals in their life and work.Wolter catapults people from “I want to do this” to “I will” to “I did it!” Readers gain the discipline, skill, and mastery it takes to accomplish anything. For more details, visit:


Uprooting Negative Role Models

The roots of the family tree often run deep, carrying with them both negative and positive messages that can have an immense impact on your perceptions, decision, and behavior. One of my clients, whose father ran one of the biggest and most prosperous medical practices in their home town, identified several negative messages that had been passed down through several generations.

“My father typically had an incredibly long workday that started at 4 a.m. and lasted until around 8:30 p.m. When he wasn’t seeing patients, he was usually too worn out or preoccupied to join any family activities. Even on weekends, it was usually my mom, my sister, and myself who played together. My dad was either working or, at best, absent-minded.”

As we discussed his situation further, my client was able to accurately identify several factors that had impacted his life, career, and perception of success:

Putting the need to succeed over self worth

“Whenever I received a “B” in school, rather than complimenting me on my achievement, my dad would comment that an “A” would have been better. Unfortunately, even receiving an “A” wasn’t good enough for my father. That achievement simply meant that 'the test must have been too easy'.”

Utilizing another person’s definition of success and not your own

“As an adolescent I had a couple of very dominant hobbies that I was passionate about. However, in his desire to emphasize the importance of academic excellence, my father failed to acknowledge or further engage these passions. I think I have yet to get over my tendency of making my dad’s definition of success (good grades, money, material possessions, etc.) my own reality.”

Placing duty over personal desire

“I don’t believe my dad’s idea about the right thing to do accurately reflected what he truly wanted to do with his life. He always referred to his own work as something he had to do to pay the bills and put food on the table. He was the only son in his own family whose dad had not come back from WWII. As a result, his mom seemed to have put a lot of impossible-to-achieve expectations on him as the only male representative of the family. I think my mom also placed many unrealistic expectations on his shoulders. So, I think my dad, for most of his life, was performing for an imaginary audience with the need to present an image of success to the outside world."

Never allowing yourself the freedom to fail

“Failure was definitely not an option for my dad. Had he failed, my mom would have divorced him and my grandmother would not have respected him. His two sisters did their fair share in pressuring him, as well.”


Automatically incorporating the dominant behaviors from a negative family role model into our own personal value system is easy to do. Although it may be impossible to ever eliminate them entirely, uprooting these barriers is an essential first to step towards adopting a new perspective or understanding that will allow you to create and fully experience true success in your life. As my client learned, it can be done.


"Only he is successful in his business who makes that pursuit which affords him the highest pleasure sustain him."
~ Henry David Thoreau

"Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential."
~ John Maxwell

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
~ Winston Churchill


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