Coaching Strategies

Ways to battle your own Achilles’ heels

Following are James Waldroop’s 12 Achilles’ heels, along with short descriptions of them and some ways to begin grappling with them.


Acrophobe: Never feels good enough.

  • Stop the damage.
  • Prioritize and think about how to let yourself succeed.
  • Buy yourself time to grow into a job.
  • Act “as if” you belong. Acting “as if” will start to make you feel naturally more comfortable in reality. Once you’ve mastered the act, you will have convinced yourself.

Meritocrat: Thinks the world should be black and white. Resents that the world demands negotiation and the selling of ideas. If something is “right,” that should be enough.

  • Plan influence campaigns.
  • Think seriously about who the voters are and work to convince them.
  • Don’t worry, be crappy. Don’t be a perfectionist, just go for it.

Hero: Pushes hard and does too much. Causes others to burn out and is destructive within an organization, leaving behind him a trail of “dead bodies,” or coworkers who couldn’t keep up with the pace.

  • Ask, “Do you want to be a commando or a general?”
  • Look behind you for damage. Look carefully at metrics and turnover. How many dead bodies have you left in your trail?
  • Get perspective — how many other cars are in the parking lot when you leave work at night?

Peacekeeper: Always avoids conflict. Not a peacemaker, but someone who fears change and prevents innovation.

  • Acknowledge the benefits of conflict.
  • Use role-playing to make yourself more comfortable with conflict.
  • Practice “normalizing” relationships after conflict. Don’t be afraid of that process.

Bulldozer: Runs roughshod over others. Managers often praise their willingness to knock down walls to get things done — despite the coworkers on the other side of those walls.

  • Learn the DEW (Distant Early Warning) signs that you are about to blow up.
  • Learn to say you are sorry — and mean it.

Rebel: Always looking for a cause that doesn’t exist.

  • Acknowledge that you are not Che Guevara — you are more like James Dean.
  • Ask yourself why you are doing something. What is the real cause?

Home-run Hitter: Swings for the fence and has unrealistic ambitions. Always disappointed at failures, but would have more successes if she could settle for a few singles.

  • Recognize the culture of “speed kills.”
  • You can’t start lifting weights at 500 lbs.
  • Think about growth and harvest times. Successful growth takes time.

Pessimist: Always on the down side and is defensive and risk-averse. Thinks she is defending the organization when, in truth, she stagnates it.

  • Examine the downside of not acting.
  • You may feel comfortable, but not changing can be just as dangerous as necessary change.
  • Make others sound the alarm. Take that responsibility off your own shoulders.

Mr. Spock: Emotionally tone-deaf.

  • Learn to think about how others feel. You may never be as emotional as your coworkers, but it is important to take their feelings into consideration.

The Coulda-been: Thinks that no job is ever good enough and that life is full of near misses.

  • Think “good enough” not “great.”
  • Divorce yourself from the expectations of others.

Loose Lips: No sense of boundaries. Always talking out of turn. Lets things slip.

  • Pay close attention to an organization’s culture before you join.
  • You will succeed more easily in a company that has fuzzy lines of appropriateness.
  • Be sensitive about differences. Others may not feel as comfortable hearing what you are comfortable telling.

Lost Path: Work is without meaning. Lost passion about a job, but stays on without energy.

  • Think want, not should or can.
  • Don’t blame dissatisfaction on your organization. You will not be cured by migration.
  • Get to the root of your problem at your present job.
  • Get in touch with your imagination and with your dreams.

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