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13 Adversaries Of Success

By K. Phillips, March 2012:

Today’s armies of life coaches and business gurus often seem to build their strategies on a fundamental bit of advice from the 6th-century bc Chinese general Sun Tzu in his treatise, The Art of War—”Know your enemy.” Not until we identify and understand the attitudes and conditions that threaten our success can we take the steps necessary to overcome them.

Lack of a clear goal: “What often leads to failure,” says entrepreneur and consultant Joseph Ansanelli, “is [the absence of] a well understood, small set of very important goals.”

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up somewhere else.”—Yogi Berra

Lack of a plan: It’s okay to dream of building castles in the air, but they won’t become realities without a realistic step-by-step plan for putting them there. Today we have space stations, but they didn’t just happen.

“He who fails to plan, plans to fail.”—Author unknown

Lack of focus: Various things can contribute to lack of focus, including low motivation, a poor work environment, or being distracted by matters of lesser priority. Identify interferences and determine how to best deal with each.

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life.”—Anthony Robbins

Laziness: You can have a great idea and even a great plan for achieving it, but if you lack the necessary dedication or aren’t willing to put in the work, the idea and plan are doomed.

“Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it.”—Author unknown

Rigidity: Few things undermine initiative and progress worse than holding on to the way things have been done in the past.

“A closed mind is not only closed to outside thoughts, it is often closed to itself as well. It is closed to new thoughts and anything that threatens the status quo. But if you can open the doors, maybe just a crack at first, the ideas that have been patiently waiting at your gates will flood in.”—David Straker and Graham Rawlinson, How to Invent (Almost) Anything

Lack of enthusiasm: If an idea is like a spark, enthusiasm is the wind that whips it into a bonfire strong enough to withstand the rain of adversity.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”—Winston Churchill

Accepting defeat. Very often, the battle is lost in the mind before the real action even begins. Expect defeat, and you are already defeated; hope to win, and you give yourself a chance; expect to win, and you increase your chances exponentially. Even the most seemingly impossible situation can be overcome if approached positively, as a challenge.

“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”—William Feather

Complacency. The greatest danger often comes when things are running smoothly and the pressure is off, because the natural tendency then is to not try as hard. It may be possible to coast for a while, but valuable momentum will be lost; if left unchecked, things will grind to a halt.

“There is a very fine line between confidence and complacency. If you win the first game against a team, the worst thing you can do is fool yourself into thinking that the second game will be easier.”—Dave McGinnis

Overconfidence. The hare and the tortoise, the giant Goliath and the boy David, the Titanic—you get the picture.

“Before you attempt to beat the odds, be sure you could survive the odds you’re beating.”—Larry Kersten

Procrastination. The most capable people in the world, with the best ideas in the world and all the financial backing in the world, will get nowhere until they take action.

“There are a million ways to lose a work day, but not even a single way to get one back.”—Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

Disunity: Joint efforts rarely come to full fruition without reasonable levels of consensus and compatibility, so work at building those. Then when opposing ideas and interests emerge, rather than becoming stumbling blocks, they can be used as stepping stones.

“Honest differences of views and honest debate are not disunity. They are the vital process of policy making.”—Herbert Hoover

Moral compromise. The credo of some seems to be “All is fair in love, war, business, and life,” but what works is not always what’s right. Victories won immorally are shallow, usually short-lived, and often have consequences that cancel any success. “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (1. Galatians 6:7)

“Success is more permanent when you achieve it without destroying your principles.”—Walter Cronkite

Failure to learn from mistakes. Victory is very often decided according to who has learned the most from past mistakes.

“The real test is not whether you avoid failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.”—Barack Obama

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