Episode Transcript

You know you’re capable of greatness in your engineering career. You know you have the stuff to be a respected engineer and savvy leader.

But something’s not allowing you to carry that out. 

It’s like an invisible force that keeps you from reaching the peak. A force that modulates your achievements. And tempers your impact.

What’s going on here?

Your immediate thought is that you’re not good enough. Or you’re not good enough yet. That you have to work harder. Get more experience. Take more training. 

And as you brood on this further, you start feeling inadequate and unworthy. And that maybe you shouldn’t aspire to what’s beyond your reach.

BUT this is where you’re wrong. This is where your inner critic has succeeded in getting you to believe thoughts that aren’t true. 

You are capable of greatness. And you do have the stuff to be a respected engineer and savvy leader. You know that and can trust that.

But it’s also true that there’s an invisible force holding you back. There are unseen restraints at play. And they serve to sabotage the extent or significance of your career success.

In particular there are 3 more common stealthy saboteurs interfering with your advancement. They mess with your confidence, your self-perspective and your achievement.

Let’s explore each of these 3 saboteurs. How they manifest and how you can recognize them.

The 3 Saboteurs of Your Engineering Career Advancement

  1. The Confidence Robber

The confidence robber is the saboteur that’s probably most familiar to you. Because lack of confidence is so unmistakable. 

You’ll often recognize it as imposter syndrome. When you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, someone hired you by mistake and people are going to find out.

Other times you’ll have the feeling of unworthiness. That you’re not good at what you do and you don’t deserve to be here.

You may also notice it when you’re working extra hours and taking on more work than you should just to prove your competence.

  1. The Self-Diminisher

The self-diminishing saboteur is a little harder to detect. It’s probably been drilled into you most of your life and is part of the stories you tell yourself.

You’re under the spell of this saboteur if you see yourself as a step down from others. Your colleagues seem to you to be on a higher pedestal. They know more. Or know better. And you tend not to question their decisions.

Stereotype threat is a common tool of the self-diminisher saboteur. You see yourself as a less-than engineer, because that’s what others expect you to be. You’re living up to the stereotype.

You’ll also know this saboteur is around when you’re stuck in the role of the trainee or the apprentice. You’re forever feeling like the dilettante. Always the amateur and never the pro.

  1. The Achievement Limiter

The achievement limiter is the stealthiest saboteur of all. Because you are achieving. And it looks like goodness to you. But in reality you’re not going as far as you should be. 

Where you’ll often see this saboteur is during decisions involving life balance. Through the voices that tell you you can’t be both an engineer and a mother [for example]. 

Through the voices that say you can’t take a more challenging role because you’ll be neglecting your family.

You’ll know the achievement limiter has made an appearance after you learn that your peers are paid more than you are. 

After a colleague with less experience gets the job you applied for. Or after your promotion gets delayed another 6 months.

And you’ll know the achievement limiter has left its mark when you look back on your career and wonder why you didn’t get as far as others in your cohort. 

Why it’s been such a struggle to reach your goals. Why you haven’t yet realized your vision.

Be on the Lookout for Sneaky Engineering Career Saboteurs

These saboteurs are sneaky. They’re easily missed or ignored or waved off. But the consequences of that are bad. Collectively and over time their impact is bigger than you think.

Instead if you’re aware and vigilant, you can outsmart these stealthy saboteurs. 

Talk about them and bring them to light. Meet with colleagues or resource groups to learn how others deal with them.

Raise issues of confidence, self-perspective and achievement limits with your mentors and managers. Find ways to dispel these saboteurs through your development plan.

Meanwhile, build resilience and risk tolerance so your confidence improves. And change the stories you tell yourself to reinforce your self-perspective.

Create a strong engineering career vision and continuously refine it. See yourself fulfilling that vision and making a difference. See yourself realizing a successful career as a renowned engineer and leader.

I’d like to help you deal with the stealthy saboteurs in your engineering career. Sign up for a strategy sessionwith me and let’s get you on track to reaching all your goals. 

Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast we’ll discuss transitions – how to handle the changeovers between work and life.  Join me for Episode 102.