By the time I reached the age of 30, I had achieved the American Dream: a prestigious job, a six-digit income, a doctorate degree, a thriving business, a big home, a beautiful wife, son, and even a dog. Not bad, considering I grew up in the projects of Miami, Florida. But I lost all of it before I reached the age 40. As men, sometimes our obsession with success can cause us to get out of balance as husbands, fathers, and as leaders. And when that happens, we often pursue things that can be measured instead of the things that matter the most, thus engaging in self-sabotage of our own success.
I’ve learned from my own experience, as well as hundreds of men I’ve coached and mentored, that when we get out of balance, we usually sabotage our success in one of four ways, or at least I did. And they are:
1. We choose to FAKE like everything in our lives is okay when they’re really not.
Yeah, you may be saying and doing the right things, but deep down inside you know something is wrong. But you’d rather just fake it and appear like you have it all together. At the lowest point of my life, and at the height of my success, I wore a mask of adequacy; a disguise of “good enough”; and even a costume of competence in public. I played the part well. I went to church, I treated people right, and I said all the right things at the right times. I was wearing a mask, and it wasn’t just on Halloween; I wore it every day to work and every Sunday at church.
2. We may choose to ISOLATE ourselves from others, including our family and friends.
This is when you intentionally choose not to hang around people, especially other men who seem to have a better life, family, or marriage than yours; because you’re too ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid you’ll be judged, rejected, or exposed for your own shortcomings. So, what do you do? You avoid intimacy and closeness with others – especially other men.
3. We may find ourselves just trying to SURVIVE our life out of balance.Although you may be succeeding at what people see, you’re failing or struggling at what people don’t see.
Although you may be succeeding at what people see, you’re failing or struggling at what people don’t see. At work, you’re breaking records, but at home, you’re just trying to keep everything and everyone from breaking down and falling apart. Yes, you’re still breathing, but you feel like you’re on life support. It seems like the people who matter the most respect you the least, and the people who matter the least respect you the most. You’re making moves at work, but you’re not making progress at home, and even your success is becoming exhausting.
4. We choose to MEDICATE.
If we can’t make our lives better by faking it, isolating ourselves from others, or surviving it, then we may choose to medicate to numb the pain of our failures, disappointments, unmet expectations, insecurities, frustrations, and worries. When I couldn’t make my personal life better, I chose to MEDICATE to make myself FEEL better. My drug of choice: women and multiple affairs. As men, we’ll choose almost anything to numb the pain of our past, present, and potential future – drugs, alcohol, video gaming, sports, working out, porn, hobbies, food, etc., you name it.
Intrinsically, every man wants to succeed at something. But we have to be careful that we don’t pursue success at any cost. Because the price is always too high.
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think is most important in life?”