Getting In Our Own Way

Getting In Our Own Way - Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

One of the most valuable things I do with my clients is to help them recognize how we get in our own way. You might wonder why we do this. Why do we sabotage ourselves? The challenge is we don’t see it. Not only don’t we see it, we think we are helping ourselves and we try to do more. Sounds crazy doesn’t it, but it’s true unfortunately.

How we get in our own way

So why do we sabotage ourselves? The answer lies in how we utilize our strengths. In times of stress or when we aren’t managing ourselves well, we instinctively fall back on our habitual behavior. It is like putting on that warm overcoat on a freezing day. It feels comfortable. At first our strengths help us, but when we get too much of a good thing we get in our own way. When we overuse our strengths, they quickly become our limiters.

How to identify your limiters

I use the Hogan LEAD assessment with my clients to identify their limiters. Using a modern assessment tool like this is critical because we are blind to our limiters. The Hogan assessment identifies three types of limiter:

Moving Away – This is the flight mode. When stress or challenges arise we retreat and this shows up as leaders going quiet or ignoring ideas and help from the people around them. They go it solo.

Moving Towards – This is the fight mode. Under stress, leaders push back. They dominate conversations, show their misplaced confidence or become argumentative.

Moving With – This describes deferential behavior. Being overly agreeable, avoiding conflict and acting like a yes person.

How can we manage them?

The interesting thing is we each have limiters in one or more of the three groups above. They are with us for life. The key is recognizing them so you give yourself a choice about how to respond in stressful situations. This is so much more productive than going through life on autopilot, and never quite knowing why we aren’t performing at our best.

If you would like to learn more about the Hogan or how to get your assessment, drop me a note at



Comments (2)

Great point that we all have a mix of limiters and that they are with us for life Andy. As you say, the key, as always, is expanding our self awareness to notice the pattern.

Also your point that our strengths become our weaknesses definitely fits my own experience: one of my signature strengths is my ability to identify connections between things and come up with new processes and practices. But under stress, I go into “solo research mode“, and while it’s very mentally stimulating, nothing gets done about putting my ideas into action with others. Thanks for the timely reminder!

Hi Philip, Firstly it is great to hear from you, and thank you for sharing the insight. It is so helpful when we identify these little nuggets that explain so much about how we show up. 🙂

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