You will learn certain traits that can lead to success if you’re a student of people, like me. I love walking around malls and finding quiet places to relax while watching people pass by. It is fun to try and imagine their lives, the decisions they make, and the challenges they have faced. It is much more difficult to observe businesses, but they all share some common traits. Good To Great’s author went beyond just watching in a shopping mall. His team spent many months researching what it takes for a business to succeed. His book contains the details of what he discovered, but I’d like to explore why so many businesses fail, dare i say “most” businesses.
Let’s first define what a barrier means. Simply put, a barrier is anything that prevents you from achieving your goal. Barriers can come in many forms, and they can hinder even the most successful. These include:
Harry Truman was so unsuccessful in politics and business that he wrote to Bess a letter in which he stated, “I can’t lose forever.”
Lucille Ball was fired early in her career by a producer. He told her that she wasn’t meant for showbusiness. Go home.
Elvis Presley received a warning from his manager after he performed at the Grand Ole Opry. He was told he should continue driving trucks since he clearly had no future as an artist.
Rudy Kipling was fired as his newspaper reporter’s first job because his editor said to him that he didn’t know how English is used.
Stephen King discarded his first novel after he had finished it. His wife found it and sent it to a publisher. This was the beginning of a long and highly successful writing career.
This article will attempt to answer the question, “How can I overcome the obstacles that I face today and those that I will encounter in the future?” You might think, “Wait, what if this article was about barriers to success in business?” It is the businessman’s belief that the true barriers to success in business are within our minds.
Yes, there are common obstacles to success in business. These include the business’s location, its capital and funding, the experience of staff and the demand for the product. But… But…
Barrier #1: Poor focus – His name was at the top of the leaderboard at a recent golf tournament. He was playing excellent golf, and everyone was trying to catch him with every shot they had. He was always a great player and hit countless amazing shots. I then noticed something. The crowd cheered their hero loudly after each shot but this golfer was focused on his game. He never lost his “game-face” during the round. This was what allowed him to hit great shots and win the tournament. It is also what will make Tiger Woods the greatest professional golfer that the PGA has ever witnessed. You must be focused to achieve your professional and personal goals, just like Tiger.
Barrier #2: Mind Set. When you wake up each morning, do you have a goal to make it a winning day? Although it is easy to answer “Yes”, do you really want to achieve more sales than you have ever achieved, work smarter to make the most of what you have and build a team that will support you to reach the top in your field? Negativity and negative thoughts are the problem. This is what you need to know before you quit reading. I recently played in a doubles tournament of tennis with someone I had never met. We were the top team in the tournament, and I was determined to win. We lost not because of lack of skill, luck, or anything else. It was my partner’s negative mental attitude and our inability to win. Literally, our match was lost because of his mind. What is your mind worth?
Barrier #3: The belief system. I don’t believe that things will always happen because you promise them. However, I believe words have power. Your belief system should be positive to achieve positive results, just like your mind. Just like the little train that climbs the mountain, your belief system must be positive. Positive people will give you a better chance at achieving your goals.
Barrier #4: Making excuses. Recently, I worked with a woman who said that she wanted to do great things. We began to discuss why she hadn’t completed the first steps of her journey. I was shocked by what she said. She started making excuses after excuses for not achieving even the most basic goals. She didn’t respond to my call on this. If she wanted to achieve her goals, she realized she had to be willing to venture into unknown territory. Are there any excuses you are making that are holding your business back today?
Barrier #5: Fear. We all have experienced it and are affected by it in some way. How can I find out this information about myself? As a child, think back to your childhood. You probably disliked dark places or walking down dark streets, where you heard scary sounds with each step. You will feel the same way today as you did then. My 20+ years of experience in leadership have taught me that even experienced leaders can be affected by at least four common fears. These fears are more common than you might think. They affect you every time you interact with someone at a leadership level.
These fears should be read openly and honestly before you can proceed. This article does not attempt to explain the psychology behind each fear. It is meant to show you how they can influence your leadership. These are the fears that I most frequently see in leaders’ lives:
- Rejection. I have never met anyone who likes to be disqualified. Leaders who have experienced rejection in the past will be more prepared to avoid being rejected. This is often called the turtle syndrome. Leaders are afraid to step out of their shell and take risks, create a new program, hire new employees, or ask for help with a particular task. You must realize the risks that come with being a leader. It is important to stop, examine your options, make a decision, then take action.
- Loss control This fear is common in highly-motivated personality types. Although this does not mean that the leader is a control freak but that control is their “comfort zone”. Micromanagement is a style of leadership that displays fear of losing control. This means that the leader is afraid of delegating responsibilities, as he won’t be able to quickly correct any problems. You only have so much control. You have no control over the rest of life. People who are controlled and strong will not be able to handle new challenges or make progress in areas they haven’t been before.
- Employee dependence. Everyone depends on others, from our families to our doctors to the garbage collectors who pick up our trash every day. Dependence on employees is more than just relying on them. When the leader suspects that there may be a problem with his “key person”, fear sets in. This leads to the leader questioning his loyalty. The leader asks mental questions such as “What if this individual quits?” What would I do if he were gone? What can I do for her happiness at work? What can my boss do if my boss is confronted with a problem? The list goes on. This fear holds us tightly, but we must let go. The old saying goes, “If your grip is too tight, it will slip between your fingers.”
- Financial problems. Spend a day at your local bookstore this week to count the number of books on financial topics. There will be more books about this subject than on any other. Leaders face challenges all the time, but financial worries can grip leaders like none other. Capital is needed to fund new programs and ventures. The salary budget for employees that need to grow and expand their work is increased. To increase efficiency and purchase additional equipment, funds must be spent. Leaders often accept the status quo because of their financial worries. This can often lead to them giving up on their dreams.
These are the four most common fears I see in David Barrick. This week, I urge you to set aside some time and reflect on these fears. If one or more of these fears are a problem in your life, then your mind can help you identify the root cause. You can begin healing by identifying the root cause today. This will help you to be a better leader tomorrow.