Darth Vader was intent on using his natural abilities to destroy humanity and lure good people to the "dark side." Produce manufacturers are haunted not only by their direct competitors, but also by the giant salty snack conglomerates that are purveyors of instant gratification but lack nutritional value. Kids in troubled urban areas with failing schools face the enemy of illiteracy.

On your path, you will inevitably encounter enemy forces. Sometimes, however, they real enemy is not who you think and not so easy to identify. It's easy to blame others, play the victim card, and throw our hands up in helpless despair. While tempting, it doesn't get you off the hook for taking personal responsibility for the outcomes you seek. The biggest enemies we face may not be others, but internal enemies such as fear, impatience, greed, laziness, and distraction.

Having the privilege to regularly interact with some of the most successful people on the planet, I've noticed a fascinating pattern. The best of the best start by having a vivid image of what they're looking to accomplish. They can describe it in Technicolor detail. From there, they identify all the enemies that could derail progress and inhibit their ability to seize victory. The final step: a rock solid plan to overcome. Enemies generally fall into four categories:

1) People--The CEO of your big competitor. Your archrival in sports. An abusive spouse. Who are the people that create the biggest roadblocks to your progress?

2) Organizations - Regulatory bodies that withhold approvals, competitive companies or teams, lobbying groups peddling legislation that could hamper your growth.

3) Internal Factors--These are the most common, and most difficult to identify and conquer. Your mindset on tenacity, learning, growth, courage, and commitment fall into this category.

4) Natural Forces--The 26.2 miles of road during your marathon attempt, the pollution you seek to eliminate, the cancer cells you're driven to vaporize. Humans have worked to assert their will over nature since the beginning of time.

Once you've listed each enemy, craft a specific plan to beat them. Even if these enemies feel overwhelming, creative solutions can be uncovered to conquer nearly any opponent (think David vs. Goliath).

Don't let your enemies lurk in the dark. Instead, bring them into the bright sunlight by identifying, examining, and exposing them. Use these negative forces to get fired up and strengthen your resolve. Nothing makes you want to win more than knowing someone is waiting for you to fail, so make it your mission to prove them wrong. Every small victory along the way will build your confidence and focus.

Know thy enemy. And conquer away.