It's easy to know when someone's getting in our way at work -- sooner or later, we usually see what's going on, even if no one else does. But when we're the ones who are getting in our way at work, we're often the last to know.
Here are some of the ways we sabotage ourselves at work:
*Blaming others. When we cast the blame for our workplace defeats, relationship problems, social blunders and financial mistakes on others and refuse to take responsibility for our own actions, we keep ourselves childlike and helpless.
*Negative thinking. Some people see opportunity behind every failure; others see failure behind every opportunity. It's not true that every optimistic, positive, enthusiastic person gets to the top -- but it is true that most truly successful people are optimistic, positive and enthusiastic.
*Fear of failure. When we're too afraid of failure to take risks, we deny ourselves the chance to learn from our own mistakes. Successful people know that failure isn't fatal, that learning from our failures is one sure way to learn and grow.
*Resisting change. Any employee who routinely balks at new equipment, technology, techniques, personnel or procedures will get left behind the rest of the pack sooner or later -- in today's competitive job market, probably sooner rather than later.
*Failing to set firm priorities. It's easy to spot the people in any workplace who have no clear priorities: They're the ones who take care of trivial chores while important matters slide by, look perpetually harried and hassled, and never can seem to give any one task -- or us -- their full attention.
*Procrastination. Even the most competent, successful employees sometimes put some things off, but employees who procrastinate enough to get in their own way never do today what they can put off until tomorrow. And tomorrow. And tomorrow.
*Lack of integrity. Even the best of us fall from grace occasionally, but employees who don't have a rock-firm set of professional ethics hardly ever stay successful for long. It's still true that no one can fool all of the people all of the time -- not for long, anyway.
*Not being a team player. With holding information, responsibility, resources, contacts, know-how and power doesn't make us more powerful -- it just isolates us.
*Finally, presenting a negative -- and inaccurate -- image of ourselves. If we're not frivolous, unprofessional, empty-headed, immature or unprofessional, it's a shame to present such an image of ourselves to the people who are in charge.
XTC Questions should be addressed Working Woman, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.