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Bust through 3 Massive Mental Blocks of High-Performance Leaders

Highlight a few of the key barriers leaders may face, and how they can overcome them through intentional mindset work.

Like it or not, we all face our own set of internal barriers that limit our leadership abilities, complicate our relationships, and fight to hold us back from our true potential. 

Mine was paralyzing perfectionism. 

No matter how big my dreams were, my perfectionism (and the self-doubt masked just behind it) felt 3x bigger—and it almost stopped me from building the incredibly rewarding life I enjoy now. 

Perfectionism-fueled self-doubt held me down, for a time, but it certainly didn’t knock me out. Though, that’s a story for another newsletter.

In my experience, high-level, high-performing leaders tend to trip on a few common barriers: self-doubt, overwhelm, and unmanaged stress.

Together, these mental blocks make it tough to lead when times are good—and an absolute uphill battle when the going gets tough. 

So, let’s tackle them, one by one.  

1. An honest sounding board turns self-doubt into courageous confidence.

Self-doubt can reveal itself in a number of different ways. For me, it looked like perfectionism. For you, it may show up as Imposter Syndrome or analysis paralysis. Whatever you call it, and however you feel it, self-doubt seriously limits your ability to lead with confidence. 

Here’s the good news: With intentional mindset work, you can move from self-doubt to self-confidence. Here’s how:

Watch your (mental) mouth. Our internal self-talk has the power to cripple our confidence—or bolster our boldness. When doubt begins to creep in, practice positive self-talk. Remind yourself that you’ve overcome challenges before, and you’re fully equipped to do it again. 

Lean on a peer. Find a trusted mentor who can give you honest, objective feedback when you second-guess your next step. When noisy self-doubt crowds your clear thinking, an honest sounding board can be all you need to regain your confidence—and move towards peak performance.

2. Proactive practice conquers overwhelm.

Overwhelm has a way of trapping leaders in the “Red Zone.” The Red Zone is what I call the psychological state we’re in when our high-level thinking shuts down and our primitive fight-or-flight thinking takes over. In this Red Zone, we tend to focus on the negative, get anxious and worried, and experience a flood of emotions. 

The best way to conquer overwhelm is to beat it before it sends you into the Red Zone. 

At the first sign of impending overwhelm, try these diffusing tips:

  • Get moving and clear your head. I like to get outside and play my favorite upbeat playlist. 

  • Take a few deep, grounding breaths. If you can take a moment away, stretch, do yoga, or meditate to relax your mind. 

  • Break your tasks down. Smaller, manageable efforts are easier to tackle than daunting projects.  

3. Strike down stress at its source—and lead beyond the fear of uncertainty.

Every leader experiences moments of heightened stress now and then. But when unmanaged stress becomes your business-as-usual, this all-consuming emotion can really hinder your ability to succeed. 

And to sleep. 

And to enjoy the beautiful moments along the way. 

When you’re facing Red Zone-level stress, ask yourself—where is this coming from? Don’t settle for your first answer. Push yourself to look deeper. 

You may be surprised to realize your workplace stress is actually fueled by worries at home. Or by what you’re consuming. Seriously—watching the news for just three minutes everyday increases the chance you’ll end up in the Red Zone by 27%!

Recognizing your triggers is a great first step towards channeling stress into success. Because when you know what sends your heart rate up, steals your rest, and thins your patience, you can proactively avoid those triggers. Or, at the very least, build up your resilience towards them. 

Leadership isn’t rocket science. But there is science behind it!

Every leader faces barriers. But a surprising few are equipped to conquer them. In my keynote, Leadership From the Inside Out. I share practical, science-backed strategies your organization’s leaders can leverage now to identify and overcome their barriers—and lead high-performing teams. When you’re ready to level up your leaders, send me a message to learn more about it. 

In the meantime, let me ask you: What’s your favorite strategy for handling the change and uncertainty every company seems to be facing these days?

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