What’s Holding You Back?

Article by , May 25, 2018

In my advisory work with CEOs and leadership teams, I often remind my clients to take a meaningful pause from the chronic busyness of daily operations—and the distraction of repeated firestorms—to thoughtfully reflect on what’s truly going well. Deliberate, strategic reflection of this kind is invaluable, as it helps build a robust, strengths-based roadmap to a brilliant future.

But let’s be clear. No leader, team, or company can consistently thrive if not also reflecting on the significant obstacles and errors along the way. Success is built on strengths, that’s true. But ignoring the challenges and gaps will lead to repeated mistakes and, ultimately, failure.

If you (or your team or company) aren’t as wildly successful as you can be, it’s time to slow down to ask the question,What’s holding me (us) back?

Whether you’re facing a leadership challenge (need to be more decisive, influential, strategic), personal hurdle (health concerns, marital problems, poor self-image), or business issue (new regulations, heavy competition, shrinking margins), there’s little chance of improvement if you don’t stop to examine the problem. Only then can you identify solutions and get to work—filling in the gaps, getting up to speed, setting the stage for a whole new level of success.

Set aside time to reflect on your Pivotal Regrets. Consider: Which of these has held you back? What are the events, decisions, or influences that have slowed your progress? Which external obstacles still stand in your way? And what are the internal barriers that stand in the way of success?

Here are some of the personal hurdles my clients have faced:

  • Family commitments/conflicts
  • Fear of failure
  • Health concerns
  • Ineffective communication: Too detailed, abrupt, indirect, technical, abstract, or formal
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Insufficient executive presence
  • Lack of experience (technical, global, managerial…)
  • Limited network/connections
  • No MBA or other advanced degree
  • Perfectionism
  • Reluctance to ask for help
  • Reticence to overshadow a boss, peer, parent, sibling, etc.
  • Slow to adapt to changing circumstances

To excel as a leader—and to guide your organization to a whole new level of success—you absolutely have to recognize what’s been holding you back. So be honest with yourself… but don’t become preoccupied with the challenges or perceived shortcomings. Instead, turn to solutions, and start to identify ways to rapidly move past the hurdles and lead your organization to a remarkable future state.