AWE Challenge: Stop Self-Sabotage

By: Meiko Takayama, Founder and CEO of Advancing Women Executives

If you know me, you know that I love Halloween. It’s the day I met my husband (26 years ago!) and the day we got married at City Hall in NYC (22 years ago - there’s a lot more to that story!) It’s the culmination of weeks of costume ideation and creation, pumpkin patching and carving, and house decorating.

Because my family’s love and commitment to Halloween runs so deep, we often get praised for our costumes (see my oldest, Hugo, as René Magritte’s, The Son of Man, and my youngest, Van, as the Last Avatar - yes, we shaved and dyed his hair!), our pumpkins, and our home. It turns out that a hundred Hitchcock-inspired crows can make a home quasi-Instagram famous! Yet even in high moments of praise, like Halloween, I still sense my own self-sabotage lurking in the dark, ready to scare me.

Self-sabotage easily damages confidence, executive presence, relationships and careers.

Want to know if you suffer from self-sabotage?

Ask yourself the following:

Do I marginalize my successes?

When someone says, “Great job!” You respond, “Thanks but I can't take the credit/I had a lot of help/My team did all the work, etc.”

Do I apologize unnecessarily?

“Sorry, can I ask a question?” Or worse, you apologize when you bump into the chair in your office.

Do I point out failures with the successes?

“I finished the project and it turned out well but there were a lot of mistakes along the way, and I'm not sure that it's as good as it can be...”

If you said “yes” to any of the above, you suffer from self-sabotage.

Here are 3 ways to put a stop to self-sabotage for yourself and the women around you:

  1. Own your successes.

    • Just say, “thank you.”

    • Use “I” statements, unless it was a true team effort.

  2. Give the women around you the permission to be bold and confident.

    • By owning your successes you will set an example for the women around you.

    • Point out when you hear another woman self-sabotage.

  3. Be guilt-free!

These tricks are easy as 1, 2, 3. Now, ain’t that a treat?



AWE Challenges are monthly action-oriented emails we send to executives in our AWE Leader Program to empower them to be better leaders. A version of this was previously sent in June of 2014.