Removing Privileges Doesn't Work

Last Updated Sep 24, 2008 4:35 AM EDT

It's interesting how people have a tendency to take their own privileges away if they feel they're under-performing. I've certainly been guilty of this myself.

In the past if I have had an unproductive few hours --- time where I've allowed myself to get distracted and effectively, mess about --- I've ended up feeling less than happy with my performance. No surprises there.

In such circumstances it was not unusual for me to respond by doing something dumb like forgoing a lunch break. As if this petty self-punishment would have any effect. Well actually it did, it made matters worse.

It's inevitable we lose our focus from time to time, but punishing ourselves by removing privileges is not the answer. What we need to do is get to the bottom of why we're doing what we're doing and plan a new course.

In most cases, taking our eye off the ball and falling foul of distraction is the direct consequence of a fear of something that confronts us.

It could be a change we need to make, a large project that needs starting (or finishing), or a difficult conversation we're avoiding.

In other words, we busy ourselves with less important things as a way to put something off --- it's an unconscious form of procrastination.

The best way I know to snap out of such situations, without removing privileges, is to take yourself out of solitary confinement and talk it over with someone.

Book a session with a coach; talk to a business buddy; collar a friend who'll listen.

Chances are you'll be able to identify a specific issue blocking your progress.

What say you? Post a comment and let's hear it.

  • Robert Gerrish

    Robert Gerrish is a coach, author and professional speaker and the founder of Flying Solo (, the Australian online community for solo business owners.