A silent culprit that sabotages your ability to feel successful


It’s always timely to bring to consciousness things that stop us from feeling we are making positive impact. Feeling we’re never successful. This is a recurring theme when speaking with Catalysts. Let’s talk about the the silent culprit that sabotages your ability to feel successful.

I’ve written in the past about two reasons why this might be the case. The first is that our goals may be so high that we get things started and move on before we witness their full manifestation. The second (and more common reason), is that even though our goals are very high, we achieve them so quickly, we dismiss them as not being ambitious enough.

A third reason emerged in my research: because we see opportunity all the time and we can always see a way to make everything better, we may not feel like we’re living up to our full potential.

These are “secret” or silent goals we measure ourselves up against. Before I give the specific Quick Tip of the week, I want to share a conversation with a Catalyst that illustrates this point.

What this looks like

Here is the rough outline of a conversation with a Catalyst experiencing one of these moments of holding himself accountable to phantom goals. We were assessing his current sense of success in his goals:

  • Tracey: On a 1-10 scale, how successful do you feel in this goal?
  • Client: Success on THIS initiative: 8/10. Success overall: 4.
  • Tracey: Why are the numbers different?
  • Client: I am doing GREAT on this project. I have set strong direction, I have hired a strong team that is executing against that direction, clients are happy. It is MAGICAL in fact.
  • Tracey: So why a different rating on this project than overall?
  • Client: Well, I didn’t bring in a lot of new clients this year.
  • Tracey: Was that a goal?
  • Client: No, but I should always have new clients.
  • Tracey: Didn’t you bring in new clients from that outreach you did to people you had previously contacted but didn’t originally become clients.
  • Client: Yes.
  • Tracey: How did that do?
  • Client: It was wildly successful.
  • Tracey: How many clients did it bring?
  • Client: 50
  • Tracey: And what was your target?
  • Client: 20
  • Tracey: So you are 30 clients over target?
  • Client: Yes. But it wasn’t NEW clients. Those were existing leads. That isn’t doing NEW client development.

Catalysts see so much opportunity – more than others. And often Catalysts are evaluating themselves against ALL the opportunities. And even when we achieve a goal, we see all the ways it could be even better. So there is always this sense that so much we COULD have done was left undone. We see all the unrealized potential. And this contributes to not feeling successful.

What you can do to mitigate this feeling:

  1. Get clear on what you are acting upon. Identify the opportunities you will be acting on right now, and the activities that will make an impact on your progress. You can set daily goals, and which specific activities you need to prioritize to get those done. Acknowledge yourself for pushing those forward.
  2. Acknowledge other measures you have silently been holding yourself accountable to. You can make a list of all the other activities you are holding yourself accountable for, and assess if that’s something you really want to bring into being right now, and if yes, add into #1. If no, then be clear about that and remind yourself that not making progress there is a choice.

Next time you feel like you did not achieve success you can reflect on whether you were silently holding yourself accountable for a goal.


As a Catalyst, you have the power to create positive change and feel successful. And as a Catalyst of Catalysts I’d love to help you make that happen. I’ve created these free, short, weekly messages designed to help you navigate challenges you may face as you lead change. Sign up for the Catalyst Quick Tip here!

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