Three things that get in our way from doing great work

As we try to make a difference doing something worthy of our time and effort, we inevitably run into boulders in our path.  We can become frustrated, lose our momentum, get agitated, or unsettled.  It sucks.

Running into boulders is inevitable.

What helps us get through these periods?

  1. A simple acknowledgement that it is happening.
  2. An understanding of the source.

External obstacles (equipment malfunction, lost email, customer complaint) can be overcome with attention and action, but internal obsticals are often hard to define, and deal with.  Because it is hard to put our finger on the problem, sometimes we may want to go hide in the closet, or reach for booze or other medications, or need to “burn off” our angst in other ways.  This is very common!  (and inevitable!).

Why?  We’re lost inside.  We can’t find ourselves.   Shit is bothering us and we can’t get to the source.

There are three sources that keep us from doing great work.

Hidden Agenda.  This was supposed to be fun.  I thought I was doing this because… but now i’m not so sure.  What’s your hidden agenda?  Go for a walk and be true to yourself.  Stop at the water’s edge and look at the reflection in the water and try to get a handle on who you really are.  Take a deep breath and consider the virtues of transparency.  We don’t have to be like Ray Dalio’s radical transparency, but is your internal obstacle your own hidden agenda?

Glory.  We all walk the tightrope of undertaking projects because of an internal calling, or passion, or the simple desire to make a difference.  But on the other side is our own glory.  The spotlight: “wow, isn’t he great?”  Ego and vanity are great motivators.  But nobody likes ego and vanity.  Do you want this to succeed on its own, or are you imagining yourself on CNN?

Paralysis.  Business writers like Seth Godin have made a career out of helping people get through the Dip. The newer land grab term is Flow state , with Steven Kotler’s Stealing Fire leading the way.  What shits we are not being able to get our projects done!  Paralysis happens because we’re afraid to make a mistake, and look like an idiot.  Are you afraid to look like an idiot?

It’s ok to have any of these internal obstacles getting in our way.  Boulders are going to fall.  It happens.

A rock weighing about 1,500 tons landed on the westbound lanes of U.S. 52 in Lawrence County on Friday, April 10, 2015. (Photo credit: Ohio Department of Transportation – District 9)