If you are a student of people like I am then you know that there are certain traits that lead to success. I personally love going to malls, finding a quiet place to sit, and just watch people walk by. I often try to imagine what makes them tick, what decisions they are wrestling with, and what challenges life has thrown their way. Businesses are much harder to watch, but the successful ones all seem to have common characteristics too. The author of the book, Good To Great, went much further than just sitting in a mall watching. He and his team spent months and months investigating what it takes to be a great business. What he found can be read in his book, but I want to dig into why many, dare I say, “Most” businesses don’t succeed.
First, lets take a look at what a barrier is. A simple definition is something that keeps you from reaching that sought after goal. Barriers come in many forms and hinder even the most successful. Such as:
The question that I hope you will answer by the end of this article is, “How do I overcome the barriers that I am facing today, and the barriers I will face in the future?” After reading this statement you might be thinking, “Wait a minute, this article is supposed to be about barriers to a successful business.” Believe it or not, it is this business man’s opinion that the real barriers to a successful business lies within the mind.
Yes, common barriers to a successful business can be the location of the business, the amount of capital and funding it has, the experience of the staff, and how much in demand the product is. But… I believe that the following ten barriers will keep your business on the sideline even if you have the best possible location, all the money in the world, a team that is known as a “dream team”, and a product as great as an umbrella in the rainy season.
Barrier #1: Lack of focus - Recently at a golf tournament his name was sitting where it is found most often, at the top of the leader board. He was playing great golf and the “pack” was trying every shot in their bags to catch him. He continually stepped up and hit one magnificent golf shot after another. Then I noticed something. After each shot, while the crowd was roaring cheers to their great hero, this golfer stayed focused on his game. During the entire round he rarely took off his “game-face”. It was this focus that enabled him to hit those great golf shots, to win the tournament, and will very possibly be what makes Tiger Woods the best professional golfer the PGA has ever seen. Just like Tiger, in order for you to reach your goals personally, as well as professionally, you must stay focused.
Barrier #2: Mind Set – When you get up in the morning do you set in your mind to end the day with several victories? It is easy to say, “Yes,” but do you really set out to sell more than you ever have, work smarter in order to accomplish what were only dreams a few years ago, or purposefully develop a team that will help you reach the summit in your profession? The problem is negativity, and negative thoughts. Before you stop reading consider this. Recently I was playing in a doubles tennis tournament with a person that I had never played with. We were playing the best team in the tournament and I wanted to win badly. The reason we lost was not lack of skill or even luck, it was my partner and his negative mental attitude. Literally, his mind cost us the match. How much is your mind costing you?
Barrier #3: Belief system – I don’t believe things always happen just because you say they will happen. I do however believe that there is power in words. Just like your mind set, your belief system must be positive in order to have positive results. It is just like the little train climbing the mountain, “I think I can, I think I can, I know I can.” You stand a better chance of accomplishing your dreams if you surround yourself with positive people, mentally feed on positive thoughts, and speak positive words.
Barrier #4: Making excuses – Recently I was working with a business person that said she really wanted to accomplish great things. During our dialog we began digging into why she had not accomplished the first steps of this journey. What she said actually shocked me. She began making one excuse after another as to why she had not accomplished even the most basic of her goals. When I called her on this she didn’t have much to say. She realized that she was going to have to take steps in new and unfamiliar territory if she would ever accomplish her dreams. What excuses are you making today that are holding you and your business back?
Barrier #5: Fear - We have all experienced it, and to some degree are controlled by it. How do I know this about you? Think back to when you were a kid. At some point you probably didn’t like to go in dark rooms or walk down dark streets where scary sounds seemed to come with every step. The feeling you felt then will cause you to reach for the light switch today. In my 20+ years of leadership experience, I have found that there are at least four common fears that affect even the most seasoned leader. More than likely, at least one of these fears affects you each and every time you relate to a person on a leadership level.
Before, you read these fears, please prepare your mind to read them openly and honestly. This article is not meant to delve deeply into the psychology of each fear, but to share how they influence you as a leader. The fears I see most often in the lives of leaders are:
These are four fears that I often see in leaders. I encourage you to plan some time in your schedule this week and think through this. If you find that one, or more, of these fears have a grip on your life then allow your mind to reveal the root cause. Finding the root cause today will begin a healing process that will result in you being a better leader tomorrow.
Barrier #6: Being satisfied – It has been said if you are not going up you are going down. I don’t know if that is totally true, but I do know that being satisfied for any length of time in your business will cause your success level to go down. Your competition will catch up with you, your staff will get bored, and profits will begin leveling out.
Barrier #7: Busyness – Many authors more published than I have written on this topic. They have filled many pages and books on this subject. I will make one brief statement that will have what I hope is a great impact on the future of your business. That statement is, “You need to begin tomorrow working ‘on’ your business, not just ‘in’ your business.” What that means is that you need to look at your business from 35,000 feet and begin to develop strategies that will produce financial growth, staff satisfaction, and organizational goals achieved.
Barrier #8: Trading greatness for being good enough– Referring again to the book “Good to Great” you must fight the temptation to just be good enough. I have never been fond of white-water rafting, probably because I don’t like cold water. The sport consists of a raft, fast moving cold water, raft riders, and a raft leader/guide. I once saw a picture of a group of girls out for some white-water rafting fun. The girls in the picture were all smiling and waving to the camera while the leader’s eyes were straining to see down stream. No doubt he was looking for the next big rock, up coming turns in the river, or other challenges that they would have to navigate.
To move your organization to a great one you must keep “going” towards the organization’s mission and vision. A great organization is one that overcomes the obstacles and turns in its path.
Barrier #9: Removing the glass ceiling– Many people, as well as organizations, excel into greatness, but stay there only for a short time. It is this author’s belief that there is something supernaturally built into every human being. That something is the desire to win, but at the same time the fear of losing. It seems that for many there is a glass ceiling that holds them down, keeping them from reaching new levels of success. What is your glass ceiling?
Barrier #10: Giving up – When you get a minute do a word study on the word: Gambaru. It is a word with a rich meaning that runs deep in some cultures around the world. Gambaru simply means to not give up. A short definition, but you and I both know it is not that simple. When things get tough and the future of your career, life, or business looks like it will not make it you must not give up. You must jump out of bed each day, full of vim and vigor, ready to conquer what ever comes your way. You simply just can’t give up!!!!
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