Moment Of Clarity

Are You Undermining Your Success?

I was talking with a friend about her slow building success compared to her male counterparts. While she was clearly more competent and able to do much more than the men who had been promoted, it was unclear why she had not started “climbing the corporate ladder.”

I asked a few questions about how others perceive her and she replied: helpful, supportive and humble. An alarm went off and the expression on my face clearly startled her. While it could be that her slow advancement is the result of her being a woman, I chose to focus on things that were in her control to change.

I told her that it sounds like she is suffering from what I call the “See me meritocracy” syndrome (Please note that this is NOT a real syndrome or diagnosis; I coined it.). This syndrome inadvertently causes people to undermine their success and limit their ability to grow personally and professionally.

The following are the most common ways you can undermine your success and what you can do differently to turn it around.

1)   Understate their ability. If you tend to be very modest and downplay or silence your achievements, then be prepared to be overlooked. While this level of humility is refreshing, it can impact the amount of time it takes to achieve your goals. I’ve noticed that people who are more active in conversations by sharing their opinion based on their experiences and industry data demonstrate their ability and knowledge well. You can also take a chance and learn as you go. Apply for something you have yet to do but are open to learning; men do it all of the time.

2)   Wait for an invitation. While it is certainly rude to crash a party, asking to attend is completely proper. The same is true for conversations. If you’re interested in attending a function, ask if you can attend. If you overhear an interesting conversation, ask if you can join in. The worst that can happen is they tell you, “No.” I promise you the sky won’t fall and if it does, we all have a bigger problem than them telling you no. Besides, it takes a lot of courage and confidence to ask to be a part of something, but it’s that same courage and confidence that people admire.

3)   Help everyone else. Helping is good – really good. However, if you are helping everyone but yourself, chances are you will remain right where you are. Balance how much you help others with how much energy you put into achieving your goals. This way, you can give back and support others without feeling resentful or unappreciated.

4)   Be too controlling. While it’s OK to be in control of some things, if you are trying to control everything, people may feel like you are micromanaging them. Instead, focus on an area where you are an expert and then allow others to take responsibility for the areas in which they are experts.

Do you have stories about people who undermined their own success, maybe even you? Do tell so we can all grow and learn from one another!

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW

Do you have a question for our “Moment of Clarity” JET Therapist, Jinnie? Email us at We’ll be sure to keep it anonymous and confidential. 

Jinnie Cristerna, affectionately known as “The High Achievers Therapist”, works with talented people to help them release emotional pain and psychological roadblocks so they can achieve their personal and professional goals. Specializing in psychotherapy, heart centered hypnotherapy, vibrational energy, meditation, and personality development, Jinnie has a nearly 90 percent success rate with her clients.  Sign up for Jinnie’s High Achiever newsletter here or join her on Facebook and Twitter!