The Only Person Holding You Back is You
March 24, 2019

Last month, a young woman attended my remote workshop on Overcoming Fear Based Thinking. For this article’s sake, let’s call her Sarah.  Sarah had been out of college for a little less than a year and working at a large US bank as a programmer. Things were good there but she felt like she wasn’t being fairly compensated for her work. Simply put, Sarah wanted a raise.

During the workshop, I asked for a volunteer to walk through a powerful demonstration with me. My promise was to help one person deconstruct the fear that was preventing them from reaching their top goal.

Sarah bravely stepped up and offered her story to the rest of the group. Here’s how the demonstration unfolded:


I started it off: “What’s one scary goal you have that you’ve been putting off?”

Sarah: “I’ve been meaning to ask for a raise at work but can’t bring myself to do it.”

“OK. What has been holding you back from asking for the raise?”

“I feel like maybe I haven’t been working long enough to ask for the raise. I haven’t even been at my job for a full year. I keep wondering if it’s too early to ask. I fear they might think I’m getting ahead of myself.”

“I see. Just pretend for a moment that if you asked for it, you’d get the raise no matter what. What’s your best-case scenario?”

“I’d feel happier as I know I’m being acknowledged for my work. I’ll probably work even harder. And I’d be making more money!”

“Great. Now pretend for a moment that you ask for the raise and don’t get it. What is your worst-case scenario?”

“Hmmm… I’d still be at my job making the same money I am now. I guess I’d be a little upset if they didn’t give it to me but I’d stay. I like it here.”

“So it sounds like your worst-case scenario is exactly where you are right now. Am I hearing you right?”

“Huh. Yeah! I guess it is.”

“OK. So given your best and worst-case scenarios, would you say that this raise is worth going for?”


“What’s the next step you could take towards asking for a raise?”

“I need to talk to my manager.”

“Perfect. When will you do that? Will you let me know how it goes?”

“Next Wednesday I have a meeting with him. Yes, I can do that.”


A week later I got a message from her saying she had the talk with her manager. Sarah was excited but nervous. He didn’t give a straight “Yes,” but didn’t say “No” either. He told her he’d have to speak with HR. She waited patiently for another two weeks. I told her to sit tight and be happy that she took this big step. Her job was done. She had already won this battle.

I didn’t hear from her again until yesterday when I got another message. She was ecstatic. Sarah got the raise and the company met her terms exactly! Her goal had been achieved within a month and all it took was a slight change in thinking. She thanked me, but really it was she who followed through and did the work. She took the scary step herself.


The lesson that’s so important here is that Sarah had been deserving of the raise all along. The only thing that was truly preventing her from getting the raise was herself. Once she was able to deconstruct her thoughts and see that she was worthy and that there was really no downside to going for it, she got the courage to do so.

And now by getting the raise she not only helps herself by earning more money, but she also helps the company and her team by becoming a more dedicated worker. Surely, this added incentive will have huge returns for all parties involved. This is truly a win-win scenario and one that we, as employees, normally overlook. She didn’t “take” anything from the company by asking for the money. Instead, she will now give back tenfold through her work.


Next time you find yourself getting stuck as you work towards an exciting goal in your life, ask yourself “what is my worst-case scenario if I go for this?” I guarantee that you’ll find the “worst-case” isn’t so bad after all. In fact, like the woman in the story above, your “worst-case” scenario might be exactly the life you’re living right now.

Often times we like to think that it’s other people in this world that are holding us back from getting what we want. We blame our boss, our family or our friends. But what if the only person holding you back is you?




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