Michael Port often says that business problems are personal problems in disguise. This has always stuck with me because it makes perfect sense.

Small business owners are their business, so whatever is going on with you can naturally flow into your business.

If you are having a business problem and you can’t figure out what’s causing it, sometimes self-sabotage is the place to look.

While you might not be consciously aware of it, we all have ways that we self-sabotage. In fact, we might have a whole saboteur team! I know I do. (I love the way Robert Ohotto talks about this.)

As part of my cohort going through a program with TENWOMENSTRONG, we were asked to write a description of our saboteur. My esteemed colleague, Carolyn Dragon, did a great job with hers and got my competition energy flowing.

Here are the exercise prompts to dive into your inner saboteur: How do they speak? What is their voice saying? How would you describe this voice? What is their appearance? How do they dress? What is their character? How do they behave? What is their personality? What does it protect? What is its vision of success? What does it want for you?

Here’s what I came up with:

I think I have several saboteurs, but one that I can count on could easily be cast as Rizzo from the movie Grease. Curvy, pencil skirt, leather jacket, heels, cigarette. Resonant alto voice. She’s experienced pain. She’s a rebel, but also has some tenderness she keeps hidden.

On the outside she is tough, and will not take any crap from anyone. Her BS tolerance is zero. You can’t MAKE her do something. And if she is supposed to do something, there’s a good chance she’ll try to do the opposite saying, “You can’t make me do it!”

Sulky and wicked smart, her snarky remarks can have knives inside them. She can crush my self-confidence or push me off the bench when she wants to.

She’s the part of me who has seen the failures and takedowns and heartbreak. She wants me to stay safe, but learning and growing often feel unsafe, so she steps up.

A good strategy is to get her excited about an idea and the effect it could have. The bigger and bolder the better, because that appeals to the rebel in her. She’s all about a good throwdown.

Or, sometimes I can appeal to her heart. If fierce love is needed, she can be my girl.

This exercise was fun and super helpful in identifying my love/hate relationship with change, and fear of stepping into a bigger version of myself and my business. You might want to give it a try!