2 Common Characteristics that Will Crush Your Chances of Success

walking on glassHave you ever walked on glass?  Not just a single piece, but a BIG pile of glass?  I was at an event with a room full of people, all faced with the challenge of walking across this river of glass, and how each person dealt with this was decidedly different.  They say “how you do anything is how you do everything” and so this exercise was a great example of how you deal with your fears.   One woman was extremely afraid, yet she raised her hand and asked to go first.  Another person moved to the end of the line and told everyone around her all the reasons why she didn’t think she could do this.  We saw some who gingerly took baby steps in excruciating slowness, and others who walked across briskly. 

 So how did I do?  I’m an extremely logical person, so the talk track in my head had me convinced there was nothing to fear since this was a stunt being done over and over at seminars like this across the country, and if they were continuing to do this in hotel rooms with no medical personnel standing by it was highly improbable that people would get hurt.  Even with that, the first step was the hardest.  Once I took the first step to get the feel of the glass, I was able to walk through all of it without any fear at all.

 Fear is the #1 killer of dreams. 

 You may be afraid that you will fail, or that you will look bad.  You may be afraid to actually succeed and then have to live up to a higher expectation.   If you are not feeling the butterflies in your stomach, you are not setting your dreams big enough.  Everyone feels fear, no matter how successful.  It is just at different levels.  While one person might feel fear about speaking in front of a local networking group, another might be nervous about speaking in front of powerful business and government leaders.  It’s all about perspective.  Feel the fear but do it anyway.

 So what is the 2nd success crusher?  Procrastination!

In that same event, a woman was offered her choice of 3 prizes. Her husband was in the room also, and so they went back and forth trying to decide which of the 3 prizes she would claim.  After a few minutes of this, they were given 3 seconds to choose, and then the next person would get to claim her choice.  As you would imagine, the 3 seconds went by with no decision, so the 2nd winner picked her prize.  At that moment, the first winner decided that she wanted that very same prize, but it was too late. By procrastinating too long, she’d lost out on that prize.  This happens all the time in life, where you analyze and think and ponder without taking action, and by the time you decide to take action the opportunity is lost. 

 To deal with procrastination, you need to manage yourself.  What does that mean?  Let’s explore two different causes of procrastination and how you can manage them.

  •  The task is too big and overwhelming.

 If you know you need to do something, but it seems daunting in size or complexity, you will procrastinate.  Maybe you don’t have the skills, knowledge or resources you need, so you put it off.  The very best way to take this is to break the task into much smaller actions you can take to make some progress.  For example, maybe your goal is to become a public speaker and you don’t know where to start.  You don’t just walk out on a stage with 1,000 people in the audience.  You start small, perhaps finding a local Toastmasters group in your area.  Take the first step, and before you know it the rest will follow.

  • You don’t see immediate value in it.

 Here is the case where – in your mind, at least – the pain of doing the work outweighs the perceived value.  Take for example, you say you want to lose weight, yet you can’t pass up that piece of pie with dinner. You value the current pleasure of pie more than the future pleasure of being slim. Managing yourself means putting less focus on the immediate “want” and more on the “should” to achieve your future goals.  Commit to yourself what you will achieve, and put a system in place to measure it. 

To be successful in anything, you need to conquer fear and procrastination.  Learn how to manage yourself even when you are feeling fearful, and take the right action anyway.  Take that first step, and all the rest become easier.