3 Nearly Invisible Obstacles That Hold You Back

Articles – Maximize Owner Well Being
Maximize Owner Well Being

3 Nearly Invisible Obstacles That Hold You Back

My definition of invisible: not seen by the naked eye. In business and your daily life, these obstacles are so common that you don’t see them as obstacles. They blend in with everything else. You get used to them. They are part of the fabric of your life. They are not visible to the naked eye until someone shines a light on them.

I’m shining a light on them right here.

1) Busy-ness: The more I hear the reflexive response “I’m so busy” the more I see that it’s so common as to be invisible. Why has busy-ness become so normal?

  • You can’t admit to reaching your limit;
  • No one wants to been perceived as a slacker;
  • Everyone who is busy wants everyone else to be equally busy;
  • We believe that being busy adds to our status and reputation;
  • It feels good to be busy;
  • Validates our contribution;
  • Part of the community; feel needed;
  • Makes you an object of interest (“Oh, so and so is so busy, he/she must be really special, I’d like to get into that inner circle.”)

The next time someone asks you for your time and attention—a meeting, coffee, a phone call or even an exchange of emails—hold your tongue for a moment. Listen deeply to what you’re being asked to do. Perhaps ask a couple of questions to find out more. Take the time to offer a specific response rather than the reflexive “I’m so busy.”

You might find some value worth making time for. And if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

2) “Last-minute-it is”: This is when every decision, action or request is made at the last minute. This is often related to the first invisible obstacle, busy-ness. Or it is caused by lack of respect for others; poor management of priorities; poor use of authority. It is always hurtful and holds you back.

Here are the symptoms of “last-minute-itis”:

  • You don’t effectively differentiate between what’s urgent and what’s important. (Hint: it’s the important things that can’t wait until the last minute.)
  • You feel beholden to whomever is at your door, on your phone or in your electronic space rather than beholden to yourself and your priorities.
  • You aren’t thinking about the big picture.
  • You don’t have real, substantial goals that require thinking and planning to achieve.
  • You aren’t realistic about the capabilities in your organization, whether that’s your team, your division or your whole company.
  • You focus on inputs instead of valuable outputs.

Curing “last-minute-itis” requires you to step back and look at larger pictures. I think it’s especially important to think in terms of outcomes, not inputs. When you have a clear picture of your outcome, you can then work backwards to identify the pieces needed to build to it. You will never be at a last minute loss for a key component if you’ve done this.

3) Slow and cumbersome decision-making: I am always shocked by how long it takes people—business owners, CEOs, leaders, any decision-maker—to decide. There are so few decisions that are truly life-or-death, and yet day after day people having to make decisions act like the consequences are that serious.

Slow decision-making causes:

  • Missed opportunities
  • Valuing time spent rather than results generated (there is no intrinsic value to time in almost all modern work)
  • Wasted resources as you seek lots of data and input
  • Analysis paralysis
  • Failure work; having to do work over again because you let people do poor quality or meaningless work while waiting for an early or quick decision
  • A culture of consensus rather than buy-in (read Buy-in is Good, Consensus Not So Much)
  • Lack of enthusiasm and energy throughout the business or organization
  • Boredom and loss of interest
  • Following rather than leading

Decision-makers: why not create a culture that values speed? You’ll get your results sooner. Then you’ll keep on going or you’ll stop and turn to another opportunity. Taking prudent risk is the only way your business with truly grow year over year with higher profit margins.

Overcome These Obstacles Starting Today

Starting today, vow to bring these nearly invisible obstacles to light—seeing them in your business or organization—and talking about them frequently. Recognize how they are deeply woven into the fabric of your culture and pull them out for close examination and discussion. Create a few repeatable steps to help yourself and everyone else stop letting them slow your business down and obscure the route to exceptional growth.

If you know that you and your business suffer from these invisible obstacles and need some guidance to shine a light on them, give me a call at 703-801-0345. There are many ways to attack and destroy them to allow your business to reach its highest potential.