Have you ever confronted a barrier or a problem that stopped you from going forward with your goals and objectives? Maybe it was because you did not have the support from your friends or family. Or, the task itself just seemed insurmountable. Whatever the barrier, it was big enough to stop you in your tracks.

In reality most barriers are psychological in nature. They may seem real, but most exist only in your mind. More often than not, we consciously or unconsciously give theses obstacles more power than we should.

Psychological barriers can be categorized into three basic buckets:

1. Trying to please others.
2. Trying to be perfect.
3. Fear of failure.

Trying to please everyone is not possible and it does not make good business sense. This behavior manifests itself as being unable to say no to an unreasonable request, or not fighting back when confronted with aggressive behaviors in others. The key to overcoming this self-destructive behavior is to monitor your own behavior and catch yourself in the act. Saying “no” is the best method to stop being a people-pleaser.

Perfectionism is rooted in a deep seated feeling of never being satisfied with what you have done or with yourself. This higher self-standard causes you undo stress and, ironically, can decrease your productivity and quality. More often than not, your initial effort on a task is just fine; further refinement or effort won’t make it appreciably better. Give yourself a break and be content with your initial efforts. For example, novelist Norman Mailer wrote with a pen on a yellow pad of paper and did not rewrite or edit his work—his first draft was always his best.

Fear of failure may be the biggest enemy of success. For many of us, failure is often avoided by doing nothing. Of course, doing nothing often just insures failure. Instead, welcome failure as a way to improve yourself rather than looking at it an exposure of your weaknesses. Confront fear of failure by determining the worst case scenario—while this scenario is highly improbable, it is empowering to know that even if the perfect storm happens, you will survive or even thrive.

Finally, consider reaching out for help when the barriers seem insurmountable. Sometimes we are just too close to the situation and do not have the skills, training, or awareness to fully diagnose and overcome our own barriers. A third party such as a coach, boss, or friend can see things differently and provide strong counsel. Listen to them.

I have yet to see a barrier so big that I could not walk around it and continue the journey. Repeat. I have yet to see a barrier so big that I could not walk around it and continue the journey.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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  1. Matthew G.

    I agree. I’m huge on “mind over matter.” A few of my mantra’s this past year that helped me conquer 54 upper/core units:

    – Mind over matter
    – My mind is my biggest enemy
    – I am limited by nothing but myself
    – To think is to be
    – Be mentally strong
    – Limits don’t hinder the ambitious

    Great article. I like the “fear of failure” point the most. Failure should be looked at as an opportunity and necessity to ultimate success… because in failure there is first hand learning experiences. The trick is to learn and not make the same mistake twice.

  2. Anonymous


    Our western culture has made failure or the lack of success an ending rather than a beginning. In baseball, get three strikes and you are out. Yet, in practice if a batter actually gets a base hit 3 times out of 10, he is a star. Yet, we remember the strike out. For a batter to learn to hit, he or she must strike out a lot.


  3. JJ,

    Great article and I agree. Oftentimes it is just better to not think about things too much and just jump into the deep end.

    There is actually a baseball term for this condition and it is called “paralysis by analysis” and it use to affect my hitting every once in a while. Basically, it’s when you’re thinking too much about what pitch you’re going to get and you don’t leave yourself with enough time to just react to the pitch and hit it. I guess the same thing can be applied to other facets of life as well.

  4. Anonymous


    Yes, I am torn between analysis and impulsiveness…more often than not, my gut is right no matter how much research I do.


  5. Note on Blog Entry:

    For those with natural talent, the first draft can be a piece of art. For the rest of us, it takes hard work, refining, and self confidence. I tended to agree with Ernest Hemingway for myself, “The first draft of anything is s*&t.”

    Note on Comments Section:

    The Chinese use the same symbol for ‘crisis’ as they do for ‘opportunity.’

  6. Anonymous


    Editing is the first rule of good writing. For talking, it is generally better to just to listen.


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