Dwelling on bad experiences can cause leaders to develop limiting beliefs. These can lead to counterproductive leadership behaviors. Leadership coaching can help leaders understand their negative behaviors, decipher the thought processes that lead to them, and disrupt them. Letting go of the past allows leaders to embrace the present and the future.

We can’t avoid bad experiences in life and leadership. They are elements of a packaged deal. If you live and lead, you run into negative people and situations. Leadership doesn’t make you immune. If anything, it exposes you to more good and bad experiences as you navigate a labyrinth of human psychology and archetypes and seek to make positive marks in this sea of diversity.

good leaders

Good leaders know how to overcome bad experiences. 

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”- Charles R. Swindoll.

Leadership coaching values maturity and the ability to turn setbacks into lessons and learning opportunities. Executive coaching professionals advise their clients to build a reservoir of positive leadership references they can use to overcome adversity.

Mature leaders understand bad experiences carry lessons. Depending on how we react to them, they also carry pitfalls. It would make sense to think of bad experiences as snake poison. Handled carefully, they carry the cure to the problems they cause. When mishandled, they become fatally toxic.

The Dangers of Dwelling on Bad Experiences

Good and bad experiences come and go; we can’t do anything about that. We are, however, the ones who endow our experiences with meanings. If we dwell on the negative aspects of bad experiences, we enable them to exert a disproportionately negative effect on our lives. By not facing, processing, or letting go of bad experiences, we create negative beliefs.

Part of the work leadership coaching professionals do is to help clients identify, process, and defeat limiting beliefs. Examples of such beliefs are:

  • I’m not going to assume these risks again.
  • I can’t be successful for some reason.
  • I’m unlucky.
  • I may have peaked. Things will only get worse from here.
  • I don’t think I’m good enough to achieve what I want.
  • Maybe happiness isn’t for me.

When we create limiting beliefs, instead of building a reservoir of positive leadership references, we build one of negativity. If we leave them unchecked, limiting beliefs can degenerate into counterproductive leadership behaviors like:

  • Lack of motivation or enthusiasm for anything
  • Depression and burnout
  • A bad attitude that translates to poor performance
  • Resistance to change
  • Reluctance to leave your comfort zone
  • A tendency to neglect existing relationships and an unwillingness to build new ones

How Executive Coaching Can Help

Executive and business coaching professionals can help leaders discover limiting beliefs and behaviors. Once they know why leaders fail to adopt positive leadership behaviors and why they continue engaging in negative ones, coaches can define concrete steps leaders should take to overcome limitations.

Self-Awareness and Reflection Help

To get to the roots of their counterproductive behaviors, leaders can observe the thoughts their past experiences trigger and their corresponding emotional reactions. Coaches advise clients not to judge their reactions, but to instead see them through the objective-tinted lens of curiosity.

Being Vulnerable and Seeking Help

Mature leaders aren’t afraid to show vulnerability and admit they need help. Professional help is useful when you find yourself trapped under the toxic influence of bad experiences.

professional help

Professionals can help. 

Leadership coaching can help. A skilled coach can help leaders develop ways to deal with similar bad experiences in the future.

Avoiding the Reliving of Bad Experiences

Bad experiences and the negativity they trigger can invade our subconscious minds, prompting us to relive them repeatedly. Whenever we relive an experience, we refresh the negative emotions we associate with it. Letting go of the experience and the resentment we feel towards someone involved in it are essential parts of the healing process.

Refocusing and Achieving Greater Self-Awareness

Dwelling on the past is useless. The moment we let go of the past and the bad experiences it holds, we free our minds to focus on the present, creating a better future through it.

Bad experiences provide a backdrop against which we find our good experiences more enjoyable. Mature leaders learn from bad experiences and let them go, developing greater self-awareness in the process.


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