How We Get In Our Own Way Of Success


Empowering Extraordinary

The most important thing is transforming our minds, for a new way of thinking, a new outlook: we should strive to develop a new inner world.”

~ Dalai Lama

“How do I get in my own way?” This is a wonderful question to ask your-self and reflect upon to gain access to the door of self-awareness. To be frank, everyone I coach, gets in their own way and are not even aware of how their thoughts, their go-to style, and their patterns of thinking during challenges and adversity hold them back from what they ultimately want to achieve. Let me give you an example.

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]I[/su_dropcap] WAS COACHING a C-Suite woman who wanted to leave her current job and seek a higher position in a larger company. During our coaching, she was asked to interview for a promising job that met all of her criteria. If she landed this new position, she would be working for a company that was worth double the amount of her current one, would hold the Global CIO position, and be the only female at this level in this organization.

At the start of the interviewing process, she was enthusiastic and confident. However, as weeks turned into months, with several interviews with different individuals, she was losing her confidence, and becoming frustrated and perturbed. During our work together, I became very familiar with her patterns and go-to style when she became frustrated, impatient, and distressed.

One day she calls me, (we are now 5 months into the interview process) and exclaims, “Can you believe it! I have to interview again and with the person I first interviewed with 5 months ago!” As I listened, I knew if she went into that interview with that level of frustration, she would not get the job. The organization had narrowed the candidates down to my client and one other prospect.

After a moment’s pause, I told her, if you walk into that interview with that attitude, you will not be offered the job. I knew her well enough by now, that as she walked into the door, her body language would show how perturbed she was by having to come in yet again. During our work together, our focus was on her impatience and how she can come across too intense and harsh when she is in this state. She knew I was right and yet, couldn’t get out of her own way to see a different approach.

barriers-roadblocks-successWe are often not aware of how we get in our own way. In this situation with my client, her emotions were getting in the way. When we are in the emotional part of the brain, we cannot access that part of the brain, the basal ganglia, to come up with what I refer to as, “A never thought of before response.” In other words, part of getting out of our own way is to transform our patterns, our go-to style and get out of what we know – our comfort zone – and try something new.

My client was being confronted with having to change herself and in the eloquent words of Viktor E. Frankl:

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Frankl also wrote:

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

When we are emotional, we have very little time to take advantage of that space and choose a different response. There are strategies and skills that I teach that help my clients use that space and cultivate responses that help them be the best they can be. My client was getting in her own way, stuck in her pattern, and implored me to help her out. As a coach, I guide my clients to arrive at their own solution rather than telling them what to do. However, this time, I knew she was desperate. I said, “When you walk into that office, tell him, ‘I am so flattered to have this opportunity to meet with you again.’” I heard a sigh of relief, a small chuckle, and then she said, “I can do that.” She then asked me why SHE couldn’t think of that.

We all can get caught up in our emotions, limiting our ability to come up with a different response from our go-to style. Increasing awareness and your emotional intelligence is about learning these skills to figure out how to handle situations differently. It is about changing your mindset, what Dan Siegel refers to as “Mindsight” which:

“is a kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our own minds. It helps us to be aware of our mental processes without being swept away by them, enables us to get ourselves off the autopilot of ingrained behaviors and habitual responses, and moves us beyond the reactive emotional loops we all have a tendency to get trapped in.”

Once trapped in the “reactive emotional loop” navigating into new territory to arrive at a different solution is often out of reach. Learning about what triggers you and your go-to style are learned through various ways. I use the EQi – 2.0 assessment which illuminates your strengths and what needs changing to develop self-awareness. With this information, you can then get out of your own way and start choosing different responses.

My client landed the new job. She called me after the interview and told me that when she walked into the office, she could tell from his body language that he too was tense about this long process. When she told him how flattered she was to have this opportunity to meet with him again, she said that he sat back, relaxed and the meeting turned into an interesting conversation rather than an interview.

Thank you for reading my article. I appreciate your likes and comments to further the dialogue on personal development.


Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda Fouts, Ph. D., International Executive Coach, Psychotherapist is a select Columnist & Featured Contributor for BIZCATALYST 360° and a Member of the Forbes Coaches Council (comprised of Top coaches offering insights on leadership development & careers), and founder of Success Starts with You. She was recently chosen to receive the Empowered Woman of the Year Award for 2021 given by the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP). She also received the honor as the top international coach of the year in 2020 by the IAOTP. She provides visionary leadership in her field and her many credentials prove she has the ability to empower women worldwide. Her exemplary role as a female professional in a male-dominated industry displays her influence, capability, and proficiency. Inclusion with the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP) is an honor in itself, only a few women are chosen for this distinction based on their years of experience, professional accomplishments, academic achievements, leadership abilities, and contributions to their communities. With innovation and compassion, these women empower others to reach their goals, while creating change for future generations. With over 2 decades of professional experience as a business coach and psychotherapist, Dr. Fouts has proven herself as an accomplished professional and expert in the field. As a dynamic, results-driven leader, Dr. Fouts has demonstrated success not only as an Executive Business Coach, but in every role she has held. Prior to executive coaching and leadership development, Melinda has been in private practice as a psychotherapist for over 20 years. She leverages her strengths and insights from her psychology background to help leaders and managers in transition through increased self-awareness. Owner and founder of Success Starts with You, is based upon the premise that you are already successful. Increasing self-awareness to increase emotional intelligence and unlocking blind spots are paramount to continued success. Dr. Fouts leverages her strengths and insights from her psychology background to help leaders and managers in transition through increased self-awareness and discovering their blind spots. It can be lonely at the top and as a thought partner, she makes sure you are not alone. Dr. Fouts’ unique approach from other business coaches is that she helps get rid of thinking and behavioral patterns that tend to keep executives stuck. Her key areas of expertise include but are not limited to: small business consulting, enhancing emotional intelligence, self-awareness, unlocking fullest potential, brainstorming, identifying limitations, challenges, obstacles and optimizing performance. In addition, her successful career as a Psychotherapist and International Executive Business Coach, Dr. Fouts is a sought-after speaker whose key-note address to Women’s Leadership Conferences is Channeling Feminine Power in the Face of Adversity. Her newly released book, Cognitive Enlightenment, was to be presented at the London Book Fair, March 2020, the NY Book Fair, May 2020, and the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2020 until COVID hit. Melinda received her Ph.D. in Jungian Psychology from Saybrook University and her Masters in Psychology from Pacifica University. Melinda has worked as a consultant with executives and businesses for over 20 years. As a result of her experience and studies, she has developed a unique craft to fine-tune leadership development for peak performance. She lives in Colorado with her big, beautiful dog, Stryder. For more information on Dr. Fouts please visit:

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  1. Thank you Dr. Melinda, for sharing such an insightful post. It certainly was a great read and as usual you do address critical issues in such an interesting manner.
    I am also reminded of Joan Didion who once said,

    “The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.” and

    “A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.”Denis Waitley

    • Dear Jonathan, your insights are amplified by the great quotes that you share. I appreciate you and your wisdom. Thank you.

    • George, thank you for your comment. Operative words here, “without realizing it.” From my perspective, an excellent coach can help prevent that sabotage as it is usually a blind spot and hence self-destructive.

  2. I had to keep reading when I saw this description of your client, “she was losing her confidence, and becoming frustrated and perturbed.” I can’t say I’m perturbed, but I’m trying to figure out how to be retired and remain productive. It’s so much easier to exceed expectations when someone spells them out me. I was extremely ill once and I remember that I was looking down on myself and it seemed weird, I guess because it was weird. Since that time, I’ve often wished I could do that in real life as a whole, healthy person – watch myself and figure out where the best solutions are and the paths leading to them.