If there's a common complaint I hear in the business world, it's that there are too many barriers to success. The cranky guy in the next cubicle farm has an attitude and won't let you excel in your job because he keeps stealing all of your ideas. The project that was supposed to lift you out of the doldrums of your boring social media role has stalled because someone forgot to tell you about the budget limitations. Your boss doesn't recognize your true gifts as a writer and has you editing copy for the rest of the team, a dead-end job that might as well involve a cemetery plot.
What's the common theme here? Other people. They are the problem, right?
That's not the real roadblock. We tend to rely way too much on the whims of other employees, the boss, a customer, or an investor to dictate whether we reach some lofty career or company milestone. Guess what? That attitude will never work. Your success should depend on only one person. You.
Oh, there's some really good rebuttals to this viewpoint. Maybe you'd say your boss is totally inefficient and barely pays attention to the daily progress of the entire team, let alone what you're doing to increase sales. Maybe the IT shop is to blame, because they refuse to give you an adequate computer that can actually run Photoshop so you can prove you have design skills. People who depend so much on others for their success have a million excuses (all of them with the name Bob, Mary, Tom, Sue, and on down the list) for why they can't seem to advance in their career, hit a homerun for the marketing team, or move your company into the big leagues.
When your attitude shifts and you start seeing success as something you control and something you dictate, your entire outlook changes. First, you go to Office Depot and buy your own stinking laptop. You show up at the door of your boss in the morning and hand her a report on the sales team. You take matters into your own hands--and take matter out of the hands of other people. You leverage. You diversify.
Let's say you start a new project at work, and suddenly find out that the funding has dried up. OK, that's a problem. But is it really? Could you do the project on your own time? Could you squeeze out a little more money from another project? Could you show the boss the project can succeed anyway? Time and time again, the people who are successful simply decide to make things work and they persevere and keep trying until that happens. They don't accept the word no. When they hear "no" they suddenly switch into "success mode" and find a yes.
I'm no millionaire, but I've noticed that when success happens, it's almost always because I went into a mode where I determined what I need to do to change, how I need to think differently, and how I can use my skills and talents, Then, I stopped looking at the roadblocks. I stopped blaming other people for the problems.
I also started seeing people as an avenue of success, even when they seemed to have orange and white paint on their face and a blinking red light on their head. That's not a roadblock, I'd say, it's an opportunity. That's not a dead-end, it's a suggestion about how to do things differently. It taught me to look for other avenues.
Too often, we just accept the roadblock and sit there and stew about it. Well, I guess the boss isn't going to let me go to that sales conference. "Guess I'll just go back to analyzing this database like a penned chicken. I mean, I am a penned chicken, and that's how people see me, I guess I might as well act like one."
You're not a penned chicken. In fact, here's my challenge. After you get done reading this, close the laptop lid and grab a pen. Write down the thing that you really want to do. Start a mobile app company? Lead the next dev project? Invent something no one knows about? Now decide that, no matter who is setting up a roadblock, that you will see that idea through to the end. Keep switching your tactics and improving your own skills and change your own attitude until you hear a yes.
Then, drop me a note. I really want to hear how it pans out.