At 47, Thomas Sommer sensed it was time
to change the way he worked. He had
held multiple, challenging roles at Credit
Suisse, but after 20 years at the firm, he felt exhausted, fenced in and rudderless.
Sommer felt he couldn’t make a difference
anymore. “The values at Credit Suisse no longer
matched my own values. My heart said change
something. You aren’t able to have an impact in
your work,” he said. “But my head didn’t want
to hear that.”
Despite those nagging feelings, Sommer
continued in the job for three more years. His
14-hour workdays, including a long commute
, meant he was too busy for deep self-reflection.
Then, right before the most important meeting of the year in 2012, Sommer blacked-out,
sweating and panicked. He burned out: Sommer
didn’t return to work for nine months.
Why had Sommer failed to make the changes
he knew he needed to? It was a case of self sabotage, he says with hindsight.
‘‘I kept telling myself that no other employer
would want me at 50, I hadn’t gone to many
professional development courses lately and,
anyway, I had a family to support,” he said. “In
the end, my body made the choice for me. It
said, ‘I’m taking you out of the game.’”
Sommer’s not alone. According to experts,
self-sabotage can affect almost anyone, since
it’s an expression of basic human self-doubt and
may be a symptom of disengagement.
Gay Hendricks, the author of The Big Leap,
a book about taking your life to the next level,
says self-sabotaging behaviour is a response to
hitting your upper limit, whether that’s your upper limit of career success, creative expression
or even relationship harmony.
He identifies four fears behind
a subconscious unwillingness to
enjoy the “positive energy” you’ve
created for yourself: feeling fundamentally flawed, worrying that
you might be disloyal to your roots
or past if you attain your goal, believing that more success brings
a bigger burden, and fearing that
you’ll outshine others.
“As you begin to open up to
what your unique abilities are
— your inner genius — you begin
to try on a bigger version of yourself. When you
do that, you bump up into what I call the upper
limit problem because it awakens fears in you,”
Hendricks said.
Everybody knows how to be a loser because
we all learned to walk and have fallen


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