Monday, July 20, 2009

What's Gettting in the Way of Your Success? Part 1

What's Gettting in the Way of Your Success? Part 1

I regularly attend a business development/networking meeting called the Mastermind Roundtable that is anything but regular. The meetings are hosted by my friend and mentor, David Hepburn, who consistently challenges the members to think differently – that is, to leave behind the preconditioned thoughts we all carry with us into adulthood.

As children, we are fearless – even the improbable is possible. But somehow, as we move into our professional lives, romantic partnerships, parenthood – and all their attendant trappings – we step off that path of promise and potential, instead wending our way onto the road of resistance and rejection. We become like that frog in the slowly boiling water and set ourselves up as Sisyphus, continually pushing the rock of life back up the hill, day after day.

In a recent Mastermind Roundtable session, the conversation focused around the subject of success – more specifically, what the obstacles are that seem to keep us from achieving the success we’re capable of and know we deserve. The answers varied – but underneath them all was one unifying concept: self-worth.

Everyone – even the most successful person on the planet – at one time or another struggles with self-doubt. The successful, though, have figured out a way to acknowledge the doubts and move on. They do not let that little voice in their head talk them out of the next sale, client, promotion, interview, job, vacation, date, or anything else they want and deserve.

In considering this topic, I was reminded of an audio series I recently listened to by Mike Davison, a clinical psychologist, consultant, and coach. In his program, 7 Insights for Creating Your Life’s Purpose, Davison starts off by identifying 17 roadblocks that often keep us from defining our life’s purpose. And you know what? They are the same 17 things that keep us from achieving any level of true success – and happiness – in our lives! Here are Davison's 17 roadblocks, and my commentaries about their effect on our personal and professional success.

1. Believing that successful people never experience roadblocks. Just like self-doubt, everybody experiences roadblocks. The difference between those who achieve their full potential and those who sit on the sidelines lies in how we perceive the roadblocks. Do you let the roadblock become an impasse, or do you learn something and figure out how to do things differently (i.e., better) next time?

2. Not knowing your purpose. This is a big one, especially when it comes to career success. Think about the reason you got into real estate in the first place. Was it because you thought you’d make a lot of money (and did, up until just a couple short years ago)? Someone told you you’d be good at it? You inherited the business? You already had your license, so figured you might as well? Your spouse, best friend, sister, or mom asked you to go into business with them? None of these is a bad reason – as long as the reason that supersedes these is that you LOVE what you do. It’s pretty hard to be successful doing anything you aren’t absolutely passionate about.

3. Belief in the security trap. As Davison says, this is also sometimes described in the corporate world as “golden handcuffs.” Security is a myth – as many with their life savings tied to the stock market found out in the last year or so. Companies fail. Jobs go away. Housing markets skid to a stop. Security is a mindset. If you love what you do, are committed to your clients, cultivate your network, and remain connected in an authentic way, you will be OK, regardless of what the economy or housing market does.

4. Feeling too scattered. Take a sheet of paper. Tear it up into a dozen or more pieces. Now close them in your palm and throw them at the wastebasket. What happens? They scatter and fly everywhere. Now, take another sheet of paper. Without tearing it, crumple it into a ball and throw it at the same wastebasket. What happens? You either hit your target, or you come very close. The same is true with the focus on your business. There are many marketing avenues you can take – but you can’t do all of them at once if you want to do any of them well. Make a plan that works for you and then take action accordingly.

5. Fear of failure. Gee, I sense a recurring theme here, but as we said about self-doubt and roadblocks, everyone experiences the fear of failure. The successful shake off the fear and move forward. Two quotes come to mind:

“Face the fear and do it anyway.” – A LOT of people (I first heard this from Ellen Kreidman)

"You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take." – Wayne Gretzky

6. Fear of the unknown. What’s going to happen tomorrow? What’s going to happen a year from now? What’s going to happen 10 years from now? I don’t really know. I have a plan for what I’d like to have happen – but since my crystal ball went missing, I honestly do not know for sure what will happen.

What I know to be true, though, is that if I spend all of my time worrying about what might or might not happen tomorrow, I miss out on the only sure thing in life: what’s happening right now. Will the client buy from you? Maybe. You’ve got a lot more say in the matter than you realize, if you simply learn to expect to succeed. But whether or not they buy from you, your self-worth is not affected. Just as it doesn’t make you a better person if the client says yes, it doesn’t make you a bad person if they say no. Let go of what might be and focus on what is.

7. Procrastination. My personal trainer once pointed out to me the word play involved in the word “procrastination.” Move just a couple letters around, and you wind up with “pro castration,” which, if you think about it, is exactly what procrastinating does to you. It renders you impotent – to think, to make decisions, to be effective, to achieve your goals, to succeed. It’s also been said that we never procrastinate the things that really matter to us – and I believe this is true. Look at the things you are getting done and the things on that to-do list that keep getting carried forward from one day to the next. Maybe it’s time to start delegating/outsourcing the stuff you simply do not want to do – and rethinking the “have to’s” that still are not getting done. For one thing, why do you have to?

John Strasser, a man I first met at the Mastermind Roundtable about 5 years ago, taught the group a neat strategy. Draw a grid with four quadrants – or make 4 columns on a sheet of paper. Label each quadrant/column with the following questions:

• What will happen if I _______________________?

• What will happen if I don’t _______________________?

• What won’t happen if I _______________________?

• What won’t happen if I don’t _______________________?
The answers to these questions might be very revelatory when it comes to determining why you’re procrastinating and reprioritizing the things you think you “have to do.”

8. Perfectionism. If you’re a perfectionist, I have three words for you. Make that four: Cut it out, NOW! Realize one thing: there’s no such thing as perfect. If you’re striving for perfection, you are setting yourself up to fail. Period. Perfectionism is also another form of procrastination, isn’t it? If I can’t make the project perfect, why begin at all? Some people see perfectionism as a positive quality. Please do not fall into that trap. Perfectionism is defeatist, self-destructive, and one of the fastest ways to ensure you’ll never get what you want in life.

Think of Bill Gates and all the various Microsoft products you have “beta-tested” for the company. They didn’t wait till something was perfect to release it. They sent it out and let the consumers discover and tell them about the bugs.
As a fully recovered perfectionist, I’ll share my new mantra with you: "Done is better than perfect." Feel free to pass it on.

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