The Biggest Obstacle to Success
“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” —John Dryden
Fully 95 percent of what you do, or fail to do, is determined by your habits. Your actions are determined by your habits of belief (the way you are programmed as a result of your lifetime of experience) and your habits of behavior (what you are accustomed to doing or not doing).
The biggest obstacle to success is that people have negative habits, sometimes unconsciously, that hold them back, year after year, from realizing their full potential.
The good news is that all habits, first of thought and then of behavior, are learned. Because your habits are learned, they can be unlearned and replaced with new, positive, constructive habits that enable you to get going, keep going, and do great work that gets you paid more and promoted faster.
Take Charge of Your Life
“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself.” —Henry Ward Beecher
Your goal is to feel powerful, purposeful, competent, and capable of doing anything you need to achieve any goal you can set for yourself. But before you do anything, you have to do something else first.
You have to accept 100 percent responsibility for the person you are today, for everything you have ever done or accomplished, and for everything that you achieve in the months and years ahead. You are responsible. No one is coming to the rescue. It is all up to you
Dare to Go Forward
“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance.” —Bruce Barton
One of the most important requirements for success is action orientation. This is the internal motivation to get going immediately on a goal or project. Action orientation is expressed in a sense of urgency and an impatience to get the job done quickly. It is one of the most important qualities of the most successful people in any field.
The biggest obstacle to taking action immediately is fear—fear of failure, loss, embarrassment, criticism, or ridicule. To achieve all that is possible for you, you must consciously and deliberately take control of the fears that hold you back.
Decide What You Really Want
“Within you right now is the power to do things you never dreamed possible. This power becomes available to you just as soon as you can change your beliefs.” —Maxwell Maltz
Perhaps the greatest discovery in all of human history is this: you become what you think about most of the time.
This is the foundation principle of all religions, philosophy, psychology, and success. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
In the Bible, it says, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
Your outer world tends to be a mirror image of your inner world. If you want to change something in your outer world, you have to go to work on the one thing in the entire world that you can control—your thoughts.
“He who every morning plans the transactions of the day and follows out that plan carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life.” —Victor Hugo
All success comes from task completion, from getting started on a job and completing it as soon as possible.
Like all other habits, procrastination is also a learned behavior. It starts off in early childhood and grows over the years. The habit of procrastination among adults is perhaps the number one reason for underachievement and failure in every area.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” In overcoming procrastination, you need to go to the extreme of immediate action, over and over, almost as a lifestyle, until procrastination is replaced with speedy task completion.
Become a Lifelong Learner
“Live as if you were going to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were going to live forever.” —Mahatma Gandhi
The main obstacles to success are doubt and fear, of all kinds. First, you doubt your ability to succeed greatly, to do your job well, and to perform better than other people. Self-doubt is one of the most destructive of all negative emotions. It can cause you to quit before you even get started.
Second, you fear that you may not succeed. This obstacle—fear of failure, which we have talked about before—paralyzes you both consciously and unconsciously and holds you back, tripping you up every step of the way.
The antidotes to doubt and fear are knowledge and skill. The more knowledge you have on any subject, the less doubt you have about your ability to succeed. When you become an expert in a subject, you develop such high levels of self-confidence that you are soon willing to take on bigger and bigger challenges and accomplish more and more in that area.
Never Give Up
“There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose.” —Elbert Hubbard
There seems to be a direct relationship between persistence and self-discipline. The rule is that persistence is self-discipline in action. It is when you force yourself to continue, when you discipline yourself to persist, when everything in you wants to give up that you develop the kind of character that will carry you over every obstacle.
Vince Lombardi said, “Quitters never win and winners never quit.”
There is also a direct relationship between persistence and the qualities of self-esteem, self-respect, and personal pride. The more you discipline yourself to persist in the face of adversity, the more you will like and respect yourself, and the more powerful you will feel.
A Great Time to Be Alive
This is a great time to be alive. There have never been more opportunities for more people to start new businesses and careers and to succeed greatly than there are today.
The number of millionaires and billionaires is growing faster today than at any time in human history.
You have more natural talent and ability than you could use in one hundred lifetimes.
There is very little that you cannot accomplish if you are clear about your goals, develop written plans, and then work on them until you achieve them.
You are in complete charge of your own life. You are responsible. As a wise man said, “Don’t go out and have a good day; instead, go out and make it a good day.”
The secret of success has always been the same: get started and keep going.
If you can do these two things, every single day, there are no limits on what you can achieve.
JUST DO IT!