The 5 Emotional Cancers

Don’t Let the Cancer Spread

I’d like you to think for a second about your place of employment. Are you surrounded by supportive co-workers? What’s the environment like? Do you encourage, support, and help one another succeed? Are you united by a common business goal?

There are many motivational speakers, business leaders, and authors who inspire me, but today I wanted to reflect on a topic that Stephen Covey introduced. Have you ever heard of the 5 emotional cancers in the workplace? Oftentimes I encounter good people who work hard and have good intentions who say they are constantly undermined and manipulated by others on their team or in their company.

If we aren’t careful, these 5 “cancers” will metastasize and stunt your own professional growth as well as the growth of your team or workplace. Organizations are only successful when everyone is united by a common goal and works together to achieve it.

The 5 Emotional Cancers

Here are Stephen Covey’s 5 emotional cancers that will pigeonhole your team or organization:

1. Criticizing. Why do you think we feel the need to criticize others? I believe we turn to criticism when we want others to look bad so that we look good. It almost always stems from a low self-esteem. Criticism hinders others from reaching their full potential. Don’t let the negative spirit of criticism take over you.

2. Complaining. We can complain about anything and everything. The weather, a dirty car, our food, our health, our work environment, our family, etc. In order to really dissect the source of that complaining, we must realize that many situations are out of our control. But if it is something we can control, we must DO something about it. Complaining is a complete waste of time. It does nothing but hinders the productivity of your teammates and grows into a very bad metastasizing cancer.

3. Comparing. In my experience, we women tend to have a natural affinity to compare ourselves to other women. Why waste our time and energy constantly keeping track of what others do? I’ve seen it firsthand – we say we’re cheering on our friends or our teammates, but instead deep down we’re comparing their success to ours and wishing for them to fail so it makes us look good. This, again, stems from low self-esteem and low self-confidence.

In my business and on my team, I train a lot on keeping your eyes in your own lane. When negative jealous teammates or coworkers are comparing themselves to you and wishing for you to fail, that’s a problem deep down within them, not with you. Be proud of what you do and who you are, and don’t waste time trying to be someone else.

4. Competing. Now, I’m a competitive person. I love sports because you learn teamwork, accountability, and answering to leadership. But sometimes the competition that we grow up with bleeds into our adulthood when we think there always has to be a winner and a loser. I’m here to tell you, that is NOT TRUE. There is room at the top for everyone! This cancer of competing will threaten productivity, not encourage it. A little healthy competition isn’t always bad, but when it metastasizes and turns dirty, that’s when it becomes cancerous.

5. Contending. Contending is similar to competing in most cases. Quite simply, when you’re rooting for someone else to fail so you can take the upper spot, you are metastasizing the cancerous spirit of contending.

There’s Room at the Top for Many

I’d like to challenge you to replay this video again and ask yourself…do you find yourself criticizing others often? Are you an excessive complainer? Do you constantly compare yourself and your success to that of your teammates or coworkers? Are you competitive to the point of wishing for others’ failures in order to boost your own success? If you answered yes to any of these, do some introspection and ask yourself why. Why am I metastasizing these emotional cancers?

The overarching lesson that Stephen Covey wanted to relay is that no one wants to work alongside someone with these negative, cancerous emotions and mindsets. Just remember… there doesn’t have to be only ONE winner. There’s room at the top for many of us!

Check out more by Stephen Covey here!

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