By Kristin McVeigh

Oprah Winfrey has said that, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” This statement can only be possible for mentors and mentees when we acknowledge some of the thoughts and beliefs that hold us back. We were extremely grateful to have leadership coach Stephanie Pollock speak on this subject at our mentorship kick-off event last year.

Stephanie Pollock challenges participants to examine their roadblocks; event space courtesy venue sponsor Work Nicer Coworking.

We’ll soon be gearing up for our 2019-2020 cohort for IABC/Calgary’s award-winning Mentorship Program. For more information or to apply this year, please visit our mentorship program page.

Stephanie Pollock has been a leadership coach for over 10 years, has been recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 changemaker and been profiled in national media. She explained five of the major roadblocks we experience and strategies to counteract their effects: 

Roadblock #1: We Wait
This occurs when we have the idea that something must happen before we are ready to start. I need to take another class before I’m knowledgeable enough to start that project or I need to lose a couple of pounds to start living the life I want. We hold ourselves back by making list after list, resulting in analysis paralysis and are never ready to take the plunge. 

How do we overcome waiting? We need to accept that we are ready enough, commit to micro acts of bravery and set small deadlines to keep ourselves accountable. Ask yourself, what am I waiting for? 

Roadblock #2: We Doubt
Imposter syndrome is when an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” Over 70% of successful people suffer from this fear. It makes us doubt ourselves and our abilities. It can cause us to overwork and overprepare and, in some cases, even sabotage ourselves by pointing out what we are doing wrong.  

How do we overcome doubt? One simple tool to overcome this feeling is to store positive feedback about yourself. Maybe it is a file in your email where you can save positive comments. When those feelings start bubbling up, read the notes in your file to remind yourself of your abilities. 

Roadblock #3: We Minimize
This is the roadblock that will keep you stagnant in a role. We put our heads down, work hard and hope that someone will notice. This might also show up as using minimizing language in written emails and everyday conversation. If you find yourself saying, “I just wanted to let you know,” or “I’m not really an expert but…” there’s a good chance you are minimizing yourself!  

How do we overcome minimizing? Use clear and active language and find a peer you trust to call you out when you use language that is not. Minimizers are afraid to stand out, so don’t be afraid to make yourself more visible, don’t wait for permission and take a compliment by just saying, “thank you!”

Roadblock #4: We Avoid & We Armour
We are all born into different circumstances and learn habits that protect and serve us. When we grow up, these habits can not only no longer serve us, but be detrimental to our progress. Do you need to have a difficult conversation with a co-worker, but are too afraid to hurt their feelings? Do you evade giving and receiving feedback? Avoiding can lead to passive aggressive behaviour and gossiping. 

How do we overcome avoiding and armouring? It is important to determine whose opinion matters to us. If we respond to all feedback, we can end up in a state of paralysis. When receiving feedback, be sure to stay open and get curious. Keep the conversation going by asking questions and try your best not to get defensive.

Roadblock #5: We Compare
We’ve heard the saying from Theodore Roosevelt that: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” This can be true in personal and business life. When you find yourself feeling jealous of another and asking why they have obtained qualities and accomplishments that you haven’t, there’s a good chance you are suffering from comparison. 

How do we overcome comparing? Jealousy or comparison can be used as a tool. Why are you so busy comparing yourself to someone and are there qualities they possess that you value? If you are comparing yourself for reasons out of your control, it’s time to let it go. Benchmark yourself against yourself and define success based on your own values. 

To connect with leadership coach Stephanie Pollock, visit Many thanks to our venue sponsor, Work Nicer Coworking. 

The call for applications for the 2019-2020 IABC/Calgary Mentorship Program is now open until Oct. 21, 2019, click here for details. 

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