Why The Biggest Obstacle To Success Is You

I was recently delivering a talk on leadership in business and I was asked “What is the big­gest obstacle to success?” If I was asked that question ten years ago,
26 May 2018 11:01
Why The Biggest Obstacle To Success Is You

I was recently delivering a talk on leadership in business and I was asked “What is the big­gest obstacle to success?”

If I was asked that question ten years ago, my answer would have been very different to what it would be today.

Ten years ago,I would have said that the biggest obstacle to suc­cess was opportunity or to be more precise the lack of oppor­tunities.

Sometimes people don’t reach their full potential because they are never given an opportunity to do so yet today I think differently.

My answer today is that the big­gest obstacle to success is the per­son themselves and in particular the story they tell.

It’s the story we tell ourselves that defines what we can achieve in life and as a result we fail to see the many opportunities that life offers us.

Story to tell others

We all have a story to tell.In or­der to make sense of the world we tell ourselves a story of how the world is and our role within the story.

Some people are the hero while others are the victim in their own story.

There are some people who see themselves as nothing more than a supporting character.

Within our own unique story we set down a framework,a set of rules that defines our abili­ties and tells us what we can and can’t do.

Story to tell ourselves

The story we tell ourselves ex­ists for a very good reason and it’s designed to protect us.

Our mind is best described as a probability machine which receives information and inter­prets it in a way that increases the probability of us being safe.

We know what we can do and we know what we can’t and staying within these boundaries creates a safety net for us to progress through life.

That’s wonderful but if we are not careful, when opportunities arise they seem beyond us so we never take action when in fact they are within our reach.

When this happens a safety net can easily look a lot like a cage.

Leadership talk

At the Leadership talk I was giv­ing I was approached by a young woman who was complaining about the lack of career opportu­nities and was seeking advice.

I asked her how many rejection letters she received from apply­ing for different jobs.

She told me she had received none because she hadn’t applied for any.

What happened here was the story she told herself was that she wasn’t good enough for other jobs so she never applied for any.

Of course not applying for any jobs was the perfect way to guar­antee not getting a new job.

Her story was preventing her from the fear of failure, if she never tried then she would never fail.

In order to change her life she had to change her story.

Incredible story

Stories are incredibly powerful. Throughout history, stories have been used to pass on advice and knowledge.

One such story is the cautionary tale of Icarus.

The story of Icarus has been around for centuries.

In the story Icarus is given a set of wings made out of feathers held together by wax.

As he is about to test out his new wings he is warned by his father, Daedalus, not to fly too close to the sun.Icarus ignored the warn­ings and as he was flying he did indeed get too close to the sun and as the sun melted the wax Icarus’s wings fell apart and he fell to the ocean.

This story is often used as a fa­ble to demonstrate the dangers of ignoring instructions and aiming too high.

If you dream to big then like Icarus you will get burnt by the sun and fall to the ground yet the most interesting aspect of this story is that it has changed over time.

The story of Icarus which warns people not to fly too high origi­nally had a different message.

Originally,the instructions from Icarus’s father was not to fly to high but more importantly not to fly to low because flying low would cause the water and mist from the ocean to weigh down his wings and be sure to cause him to fall.

Climax of your story

Just a small change in a story can dramatically change the meaning of the story and the longer the story has been around the easier it is for small changes to occur.

Just like the story that Icarus was told, the story we tell our­selves warns us of not pushing ourselves too far, not going be­yond our limits for fear of being burnt yet we must never forgot the true story of Icarus and it’s real message.

The true danger in life is when we aim too low.

Hero of our story

We are meant to be the hero of our own story, we are meant to fly high and take risks because it’s only when we aim high that we see the opportunities that are easily missed when we aim low.

There are many obstacles that prevent people from being suc­cessful both in business as well as life but out of all of them the biggest obstacle you need to over­come is yourself so ask yourself “what’s your story?”

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in set­ting our aim too low, and achiev­ing our mark.” – Michelangelo.



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