Employee Coaching · Mastering Positive Attitude Habits · Personal Competencies · Personal Development

Self-Sufficiency as a Core Competency

This article is your glimpse into Chapter 5 of Catherine’s book, “LIVE IT! Mastering Positive Attitude Habits, 15 Practical Tips for Managing Your Mindset,” available now on Amazon:


Hear Catherine discuss this chapter on her podcast, Relatable Leader – subscribe on iTunes or listen now through this direct link:

Relatable Leader: Day 5 in the 15 Day Attitude Challenge

Self-sufficient: needing no outside help in satisfying one’s basic needs. [also related to] emotionally and intellectually independent.

If you manage yourself successfully, no one else will need to manage you. They can guide you, support you, cheer you on – but they will have confidence you don’t need them. You can do a good job if left on your own.

If you are self-sufficient, you show up to meetings prepared: you’ve done whatever you needed to do to participate fully, you’ve managed any assigned tasks completely – without anyone reminding you, and you have what you need for the meeting. In short, people can count on you to do your part.

In leadership roles it’s especially important to model self-sufficiency so you can develop the same trait in others.

How is this related to your attitude? I’ve noticed a cycle some employees don’t recognize when they are in it. They depend on other people too much to get their work done. They require supervision to follow process. If left on their own, they waste time because they lack the discipline to stay focused.

This can result in the supervisor checking in more often than he/she might do with other employees. The employee notices and instead of wondering, “What have I done to make my supervisor think he/she needs to check up on me?” they are more likely think, “Geez, why am I being singled out?” and these thoughts can lead to defensive behaviors. Ultimately, these are the employees who are seen as having attitude issues and it surprises them because they don’t recognize their lack of self-sufficiency triggered the cycle that would eventually cause them confusion and frustration.

A lack of self-sufficiency can lead to coworkers feeling like they do more work than the person who doesn’t meet the basic standards of their job unless pushed by the supervisor to do so. This gap in self-awareness can lead these people to interview for supervisor positions and of course – they aren’t going to get the job because there is a perception they aren’t meeting the requirements of their current job, let alone take on more responsibility. And that leads to resentment, more misplaced behaviors, and so the cycle continues until hopefully the person realizes a change IN THEM is needed.

These people are sometimes the same people who take longer or more frequent breaks than others. They don’t have their act together at home, so they might come in late more often than other people, or miss more work days. They can be more stressed due to a lack of planning.

These people, without realizing it, can start to feel needy to the work team. Even people who typically don’t mind filling in or helping out, start to put up resistance toward these people.

Don’t be one of these people! 

Get the book and get to work today!

A good question to ask yourself is: now that my co-workers have gotten to know me, would they hire me again?

Being self-sufficient DOES NOT mean you don’t ask for help. It means you know when to ask for help. You know how to push your thoughts to the next level for new ideas, you’ve explored options, and you know who the best person is to help with the situation.

I think self-sufficiency also makes for fun brainstorming partners. It’s exciting to work with someone who can build on your ideas without keeping track of who’s idea it was.

This is my theory after being a trainer for so many years: people who aren’t self-sufficient keep track of silly stuff because they end up feeling powerless in their lives.

A very simple example of not being self-sufficient is an employee who told me he should be allowed to clock in late so he wouldn’t have to speed and create danger during the drive to work. Another employee told me she didn’t think it was right of her supervisor to ask her to hold her questions and email several questions at a time instead of interrupting her work every time she had a question.  In manufacturing environments, we deal with employees who don’t put their tools away at the end of their shift. And one of the most common gripes is co-workers leaving their dirty dishes in the break room sink. Our work lives would be so much easier if more people were self-sufficient. The irony is, it’s those who aren’t self-sufficient who often demonstrate disgruntled attitudes or a sense of entitlement.

On average, people spend about 1/3 of their waking hours at work, so a shift in attitude might improve your overall well-being. Practicing self-sufficiency is a confidence booster. The more confident you become, the more you demonstrate self-sufficiency and the easier it is to work with you.

As with all traits, self-sufficiency must be in balance. If you are TOO self-sufficient, co-workers might consider you to be a control freak who believes you have to do everything yourself if you want it done right. You might not collaborate in ways that could benefit others, if only they had the chance to learn from you. You might be getting lots of work done, but people might not feel like they know you or that you are an integral part of the team.  If you are striving to be a Relatable Leader, it’s especially important for you to balance self-sufficiency and collaboration.

Self-sufficiency might come more naturally to people who are taking risks to make things happen and focusing on the maximum potential of any person or situation – I’m not sure. If self-sufficiency isn’t one of your current areas of strength, I encourage you to team up with someone who has this strength and learn from the person. Incorporate visible habits (organization, planning ahead, time management, prioritizing tasks, etc.). Ask about patterns that may remain unseen to the outside world, but help that person maintain independence while working effectively in a team environment.

Thinking of yourself as a self-sufficient person is a mindset marker of successful people. Practice self-sufficiency habits and you will be able to maximize your workdays and take ownership for your job satisfaction.

LIVE IT! reminds you to embrace KNOWING you can manage yourself while merging your talents and qualities with those of your team members.

The chapter includes limiting beliefs, supporting beliefs, action assignments and illustrations. This content has already helped thousands of Catherine’s college students and clients – and it can help you too. What are you waiting for? 

Make it your best year ever! Goal setting and Goal Getting!

If you know anyone preparing to start college, or recently started, Catherine flipped her college orientation to a book to help students set up success habits:

LEARN MORE about the book that has helped students of all ages succeed in college!

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