The Enemy Within: Self Sabotage

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I’d been working at my first “real” sales job for a couple of months. Totally wet behind the ears. My boss scheduled a trip to Detroit to get me some sales training.

The morning of my trip I woke up with a start. It was 8:00am.

My FLIGHT was at 8am.

I lived 40 minutes from O’Hare airport.

I bolted out of bed frantically. I jetted in and out of the shower, pulled my pants on and Laura drove me to the airport.

Don’t you HATE that thick, sticky sensation of panic and adrenaline coursing through your body? A feeling almost like narrowly avoiding a car accident. Liquified stress throbbing in your veins. My head was numb.

As Laura drove, I booked a later flight from my cell phone and I stumbled to the gate just in time or a 9:55 takeoff.

I wasn’t the only guy who was frantic. Fred, my boss, heard from one of the other reps that I was missing. He couldn’t get me on my cell and he thought I’d gone AWOL.

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I got to Detroit, rented a car and navigated the I94 expressway. I arrived at the firm (I was a commissioned sales representative for this company, you understand) at Noon Detroit time – just in time for lunch.

I had to know what had gone wrong with my alarm clock. When I got home late that night I carefully examined it. Yes, the alarm had been set. Yes, it had been set to the right time. Yes, the volume control was “up”.

So far as I could possibly tell, my alarm clock HAD gone off, just like it was supposed to.

And I hadn’t merely hit “snooze.” I had hit the off button and gone back to sleep.

I NEVER did that on ordinary days.

Nope. Just on days when it really mattered.

Why did I do that?

What was going on?

Have you ever done this?

I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts, below.

Enemy Within, Parts 1&2

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

71 Comments on “The Enemy Within: Self Sabotage”

  1. This is amazing and I don’t understand the fear of success but I have it too. I always try to analyze it down to what it TRULY is – and why success is actually scary!

    Why? I don’t know.. I guess it’s the fear of it not lasting…

  2. What an ontime message. Now I know how my husband feels every morning.

    I didn’t know.

    I need to pray for him more.

    I guess men are under incredible stress these days.

    (is my husband really turning of his alarm?)

    Thanks for all your timely messages.

  3. It is amazing how fear can creep into everything we do. We experience from keeping our ad spend at a certain daily amount to how many phone calls we are willing to make in a day.

    In reading this post it continues to remind me of how fear management is a daily process. Often times we need help to manage our fear through coaches, mentors, books, CD’s etc.

    I love it when someone says “I have no fear” because it means they have more fear than anyone they just can’t admit it.

  4. In retrospect the issue of fear – any fear – is so central to many of the emotions we PERMIT to drive us – excellent post, given me a great deal to meditate upon, thank you. In the past I have consistently driven myself – even to the point of flying from Johannesburg to Chicago and back for a 1 hour meeting – because I had to “top” my last performance at any cost. Always got to “prove” I can be better than I was last time for fear of the ridicule?? that would descend if I was not. That is nothing less than being like someone, with an abject fear of heights, clinging to side of a mountain they are climbing, constantly looking down to find the next ledge or crack they need to climb higher – kinda dumb in retrospect when you consider that we are given the assurance in the Word that as long as we have the right focus ALL will go well!! Conquering FEAR – I now realise what a a huge challenge this really is or can be.

  5. It’s pretty normal. If you think too much about something that is a normal task in any other circumstances, you´re bound to make mistakes. The wrong part of your brain is busy with it. It’s like the boss that gets extremely involved with normal employee work when his boss will visit. And as a result, the output is inferior.

    If I have to wake up in time, I always set 2 alarms. The normal one and another one for which I have to get out of bed to switch off.

  6. Seems to me that it’s only self-sabotage when the thing we screw up is really something we really want.

    It’s something else when the thing we screw up is something we are ambivalent about at best — in which case what looks like self-sabotage is actually heuristic feedback commenting on the detour we’re taking from authentic commitment to a genuine passion.

  7. Perry, it is quite interesting to know that you are not the only one with similar circumstances. I have actually had a few moments like that myself and until now i can’t find any genuine explanation, only to conclude that one must have some bad moments in life. I believe the body system at times will react in certain ways telling us to slow down for proper rejuvenation. Well if the self saboteur wants to catch in that moment, then there is always a rescuer to see u through, so just be alert.

  8. The challenge is first to hear the thoughts that you are thinking that can feel as evanescent as a mote of light. Once you can hear these small thoughts, you can feel the emotional quality of them. In your case you were operating on the basis of fear and thinking repetitive fear thoughts. The rest of your story spills out in logical fashion from there. But the interesting part is the how to become aware of the self programming.

  9. Perry,I quite understand your feelings of self doubt in your early years,I think these feelings are shared by all humanity, at some stages of their lives.It is usually about 3 or 4 AM,lying sleepless in our beds, that the demons come out,and cruise around our minds.They do disappear as we learn to regulate our lives,and it does not necessarily mean the gaining of great wealth.I,personally,have found that my strong Christian and Creationist beliefs have brought me through many a personal turmoil.Love your e-mails,AA.

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