4 Biggest Ways You Are Self-Sabotaging Your Career as a POC

Updated: Mar 7



Professionals from underrepresented backgrounds and of color are a leadership powerhouse. They are hustlers, hardworking, ambitious go-getters, and doers. Yet, many fail to breakthrough leadership positions. Instead, many get stuck in individual contributor roles or mid-level managerial roles.


There is a vast diversity gap in the US's leadership ranks and pipelines due to biases that run rampant in the workplace. There are many contributing factors to this reality. This article will focus on one piece in our control to change, our mindset (i.e., thoughts, beliefs, and emotions). Because many times we are the only ones holding ourselves back from the success we envision, and we don't even know it.


Underrepresented backgrounds and minorities (UBMS) continue to suffer from self-sabotage. Let's talk about four common forms of self-sabotage, professionals from underrepresented backgrounds and minorities experience, and tips on how to keep them from happening.

#1 Limiting Beliefs

A Limiting Belief is an idea or stereotype internalized about yourself. It limits you from pursuing your ideal role, squandering any potential opportunity, and leaving you in unhealthy relationships. Having a Latin background, I'm painfully aware of how these beliefs impacted my professional development and held me back in corporate America.

One limiting belief I had to overcome was the following:

" I'll be single out as a trouble maker and lose my job if I ask for what I need."

Better said in Spanish, "En Boca cerrada no entra Mosco"

Earlier in my career, this belief led me to silence myself when I should have spoken up. As a result, I took on more work, with neither support, recognition, nor additional compensation. Needless to say, it had a substantial negative impact on my life and career.

TIP: Learn the art of self-inquiring.

One sure way to eliminate limiting beliefs is to use the art of self-inquiry. Next time you identify one of these beliefs, ask yourself:

  • What evidence do I have that ____ is true?

  • Where is this belief coming from?

  • Is this true? Really?

Honest introspection and self-reflection help clarify if the belief has any trace of reality and avoid tunnel vision.

#2 Assumptions.

Assumptions are expectations that we have about any given situation ( i.e., because something has happened before, it will happen again). One of the most common assumptions are the following:

"If I take on more work, I will get recognized" or " I'll get a fair salary offer"

However, as you move up, these assumptions will, and I mean "WILL" trip you up.

TIP: Do not assume anything and take action.

Ask questions that will help you land better compensation for that new role.

  • Start asking for that position that you have your eye on.

  • Start applying for that job you have always wanted.

You will soon realize that the past does not have to dictate the future. Moreover, even if you get a negative answer, you still get the opportunity to ask what you need to do to be ready for that next step. The alternative will only lead to frustration and burn out.

#3 Interpretations.

Interpretations are the stories we tell ourselves about an experience, situation, or person that we believe is true. They can sound like judgments as well.

Common Interpretations that (UBMS) professionals make as they climb the ladder are the following:

"I don't belong in this room because no one who looks like me is here" or "I come from poor and humble beginnings; therefore, affluent people will see me as nothing."

As a result of this, many decide to blend as much as possible, adopting and mirroring behavior not authentic to them.

I completely get it.

As professionals from underrepresented backgrounds, it's hard to feel like we belong at the table when our colleagues and bosses don't look like us. However, this does not have to mean becoming someone that you are not.

TIP: Ask yourself, "What might be another way of looking at the situation?"

Instead of interpreting the prior situation through a critical lens, let's try the following. Challenge yourself to look at it from a different perspective. By reframing the previous situation through a different lens, you will start to see the endless possibilities, and more importantly, you will feel more authentic.

For example, "I blend or I will not be accepted and lose" should be interpreted as a way to showcase your difference as your biggest asset.

#4 Inner Critic

The inner critic, also known as impostor syndrome or gremlin, is the voice of your fears. It's that voice in your head that tells you that "you are not good enough" or "you don't know enough."

Having an inner critic is extremely common, especially amongst UBMS and professional women. It's a confidence killer, perhaps one of the biggest culprits that keep super qualified UBMS professionals out of leadership roles.

Fortunately, learning to control this inner critic is possible. Though, to be transparent, it is not a sprint but a marathon. It will require considerable work and courage to make this inner critic into your greatest advocate.


As with every marathon, it's much better to have a support team helping you prepare to get to that finish line faster. Let me be your coach. I'm both a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) and a Certified Energy Leadership™ Index Master Practitioner. My mission is to help career-minded individuals just like you take the next steps in achieving their career goals.



Ready to get started? Then contact me HERE to learn more about how I can help!

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