As individuals we often stop our quests at barriers and use them as easy get outs so that we can justify our weakness to ourselves and others and yet it is often our fear of failure or lack of a vision of success that prevents us from achieving our quests. I love the quote “Obstacles are things a person sees when they take their eyes off their goals” Anon.

Some of us deliberately create or imagine barriers for fear of possibly failing and yet failure should be viewed more positively as it is often the closest bedfellow to success. Like love and hate they are extremes and yet they can be in very close proximity. “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure”. – Napoleon Hill. It’s having the guts to try and to continue trying, to believe beyond anything in eventual success. “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Christopher Reeve. But a hero is an ordinary person who has become extraordinary through sheer will and determination. Failure brings with it shame, a stigma many of us are unprepared to go through.  The shame barrier is self imposed and even though breaking through it may lead to great eventual success it is all too often the end of our endeavours.  Yet we admire others who have overcome shame, we admire others who are prepared to admit weakness and failure and yet we are often unprepared to tolerate it in ourselves. Shame hurts, shame humiliates, shame is a weakness that we would rather not be part of.   And yet shame is the mother of great invention the soul of great conquests and the source of great courage.

Humans are naturally lazy they get away with as little as possible. It is after all a natural phenomenon. Preserving resources and energy for survival purposes and yet “Laziness is the greatest assassin of talent” Pele. We need to think beyond instinct, think about goals and desired outcomes to motivate ourselves through our laziness to success. People who shy away from challenge and possible failure will never stand out; theirs is the greyness of obscurity. To quote two US Presidents “If you run you stand the chance of losing, if you don’t you have already lost” Barrack Obama and “Only one who dares to fail greatly can achieve greatness” Robert F Kennedy. Both men have lead the Western World!

Thomas Edison once said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success before they gave up.” And this is the challenge that today’s leaders who are destined to break barriers must overcome. Success is hard won. It comes to those who stick to their goals longer than others. Those who do not give up but press through their personal barriers and motivate their teams to press through their personal and group barriers stand a better chance than those who don’t; for success comes to those who learn from and respect their failures and shame rather than just attributing the blame.

The key challenge for modern leaders in whatever position or role they occupy is ensuring their response to their barriers, failures, challenges and shame they meet in their leadership positions matches the environment and reinforces their desire for success. They must overcome self doubt, they must create an ethos of success but they must also understand and respect the benefits and lessons that failure delivers. After all when Galileo called self-doubt “the father of all invention” he understood the inevitable challenges on the leadership journey to success.

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