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  • Writer's pictureAnupama

What stops you from unleashing your potential at work?

One of the most common challenges at a workplace is to feel like you’re stuck without growing. There are either too many designations, and growth barely means anything. Or, there are too few designations and there is literally just one more person between you and the department head.

There are times when your professional growth is stunted because of your fear, because of hierarchy, or because you feel stuck with collaboration, or any other reason, for that matter.

However, if you look deeper, it’s usually a pattern. There are people who find it difficult to negotiate high-end business deals. There are others who are underconfident in the presence of supervisors, there are others who feel that their projects are always given to their colleagues. Some people feel like they are treated just like a secretary rather than a meaningful contributor in a meeting.

So there are endless reasons and endless manifestations of feeling powerless at work. However, if you deep dive, you will realize that usually these patterns emerge from very non-work aspects of your life. Either it’s people’s relationship with colleagues, with authority, with structure, with wealth, or their relationships. We often have unfulfilling relationships with work, career, money, family, friends etc. and that starts gradually manifesting in our relationships.

We are constantly at war with ourselves.

For instance, Rajan was an independent consultant with a think tank. The think tank was sponsored by a multi-billion-dollar company and Rajan reported directly to the CEO. However, he felt like he was never given any large project. His boss would tell him to not worry about anything and just go, conceptualize something exciting, new, impactful and run with it.

However, Rajan was always concerned about what if his idea failed? In truth Rajan was less concerned with failure and more with the monetary impact it would have. He did not see that he was working for a multi-billion-dollar company. He thought that he was being responsible for the wealth of the business. However, in truth, this relationship with wealth was also creating a constraint for him.

It stopped him from considering really impactful projects only because they might cost more. It stopped him from taking on extremely high-quality vendors because his context was set in their fee rather than their ability to deliver.

This would then result in high demands from mediocre vendors, conflicts between vendors and himself, delayed executions, and in fact, even with his boss. Whenever Rajan’s boss would tell him it’s OK to take the leap of faith, he’d wonder, how would he have to compensate if he failed.

It wasn't until his boss took time to know him and showed him one day that his diligence was his forte but it was also a constraint for him, in the context of his role at workplace.

Rajan’s pattern originated from the fact that when he was some 7 years old, some of his relatives had humiliated his father for not being as rich as they were. Rajan had overheard this and decided he would never let that happen to himself.

As a result, Rajan became extremely mindful of budgets, which in turn made him an unnecessarily tough negotiator, as well as someone who seem to not want to take on any thing big. Hence, on one hand, he became creative with cheaper solutions to any and every problem, on the other hand, he became risk averse. Since, this was a blind spot for Rajan, he didn’t even know how to address it.

He was fighting his own self.

It was his boss who took time to know him and accordingly show him this point of view. Also, because Rajan had heard his boss with an open mind, he could see what his boss could. Once that happened, Rajan’s relationship with work, his boss, vendors and clients totally transformed.

Now he drops this baggage, the minute he notices it. He doesn’t worry about finances, till he’s asked to reconsider something. He knows that to bother about money is his boss’ job. His job is to add value to the business and the lives of everyone he touches in the professional context.

The fact is, most of us have these blind spots. If you’re a boss, a mentor, a coach, how do you make your mentee aware of these? If someone shows you your blindspots, are you even open to them? What are your thoughts? What is it that stops you from unleashing your potential at your workplace? Share in a comment or write to us at

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