Are Your Silent Partners Helping You - or Holding You Back?

“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.” – Doris Lessing

Are Your Silent Partners Helping You — or Holding You Back?

By Andrea Novakowski

Katherine, a designer of travel vacations, contacted me because she kept setting goals and never seemed to get the results she wanted. For instance, one of her goals was to create an automatic follow-up procedure after potential clients contacted her. The intended result was to grow her business by 20 percent this year.

But she hadn’t found time to set up the procedure, nor had she taken time to contact her prospects, and so her business had remained stagnant.

Katherine and I began our coaching work together with the Results Accelerator Assessment, a tool that I find very helpful for getting quick results early in the coaching process. One of the many things this assessment does is highlight a person’s “results system,” which is made up of their values, perceptions, goals, habits, and much more. Knowing your own personal “results system” can give you a better understanding of how your view of the world and how it works is helping you move forward or holding you back.

By the end of the assessment, Katherine was surrounded by six flip-chart sheets of paper covered in information. It was time to interpret the data and uncover the patterns of thinking and behavior that were producing her results (or in this case, her lack thereof).

“I can’t wait to see what all this means!” Katherine said.

The first thing we noticed was that obstacles kept getting in the way of Katherine’s ability to work on her goals. The chairman of the board she was on had announced his retirement. One of her employees started an eight-week maternity leave. Her husband’s job changed and required a lot more travel. Katherine kept putting everyone else’s needs and activities before her needs and the needs of her business.

This behavior of putting others before herself was the result of key components in her Results System. Click here to see the entire system and note the green gears, which are the invisible portion of her Results System in action. Otherwise known as “silent partners,” the green gears are our own internal voice speaking to us from our experience.

Katherine realized that her silent partners were telling her to put others first and that putting herself first was selfish. This belief resulted in her business suffering.

Her silent partners actually weren’t very silent at all.

When your inner voice steers you wrong

Pick up any magazine or book on self-growth, and you’ll find advice on how to get guidance in your business and your life by tapping into your inner wisdom.

But what if your inner wisdom is leading you astray? What if following your instinct keeps everything the same as it is, not allowing for change?

The invisible elements of your Results System – your beliefs, expectations, assumptions, and perceptions – encourage you to do things the way you’ve done them in the past. There are occasions where this can be helpful – consider how you drove a car when you first learned to drive vs. how you drive today. Your Results System has made the process of driving automatic for you, and this saves you time and energy.

But your Results System is not as effective when you’re dealing with change. The System likes to keep things the way they are – it’s easier that way. It is familiar and it feels more comfortable.

Your Results System encourages you to keep things the same and gives you reasons not to step out of your comfort zone. The System makes the idea of change seem uncomfortable and annoying.

The more you can make the invisible System visible, the more you’ll get the results you want.

One way to overcome your silent partners’ resistance to change is to spend time thinking deeply about your ideas and beliefs, questioning your assumptions, and reviewing your expectations.

You can then make conscious, visible choices and introduce real flexibility into your life.

After working with the Results Accelerator, Katherine came up with ideas and phrases to use to counter her System when she hit obstacles. I can ask others for help. I am focusing on what’s most important to build my business. I can say no.

“The Results Accelerator helped me see that I was getting in my own way, thinking like I’ve always thought,” Katherine said. “If I wanted to reach a new level in my business, I had to make some changes inside me.”

“This work positively changed both me and my business.”


Do you keep setting goals, like Katherine, but can’t seem to achieve them? Listen to what you’re telling yourself. Does your own Results System support your efforts – or hold you back?

Stay aware of your tendency to tell yourself the story you want to hear and to see only what you already believe. Question your assumptions! What possibilities open up for you?

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