The success of others often appears to be an easy path. In truth nearly every successful person faces major challenges along the way. Some obstacles are external and unexpected. Others are self-inflicted and mostly preventable.

Here, my Inc. colleagues and I have identified 6 critical self-inflicted challenges you must overcome on your path to success.

1. Poor due diligence

Many are so excited about reaching the finish line they don't do their homework in the beginning. Entrepreneurs are notorious for jumping ahead to gain speed to market, only to find they missed major flaws in their business model. Successful people spend the time to do their homework so they can proceed on solid footing. They would rather succeed slowly than fail fast.

2. Giving up

Most people decide not to try. They decide whatever they want to do is too hard, too challenging, or too scary for someone like them. You can't always control your level of success, but you can control whether you take the first step toward any level of success: deciding to try--and then to keep on trying. --Owner's Manual

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3. Blind stubbornness

Refusing to change one's business model or approach when circumstances change can kill a formerly successful business or career more quickly than nearly anything else.

I'll never forget the illustrator I once knew who lamented her failing business because she only worked by hand and refused to learn to use digital tools for graphic design. She's an extreme example, but how many times have you chosen not to learn a new piece of software or try a new approach because it clashes with "the way we've always done things," or because your current way of doing things has "worked well all these years"? If that sounds familiar, watch out. You could be leaving yourself vulnerable. --The Laid Back Leader

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4. Limiting your own potential

The big obstacle is usually that guy or gal staring back at you in the mirror. When it comes right down to it, only you can put limits on yourself. You're the one who decides which job you'll take, how high you'll rise in an organization, or if you're going to break out to start your own business. I know so many people who have found great success, and they did it by understanding that they needed to stop limiting their potential and set the bar high. --The Management Guy

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5. Negative thinking

A former client's business was perfectly positioned for dramatic growth. Yet she came to her sessions without having made any progress, always too busy, too tired, or too distracted, she would say. So I asked, "What are the negative consequences of your success?"

As we explored this question she realized how much fear she had buried within herself. She had a dream that once she was successful she would mentor others to success, but held the belief that she wasn't charismatic or smart enough to do so. Together we worked to dispel these limiting beliefs. As a result, her business grew from barely more than $100,000 in annual revenue to more than $40 million in only a few years. Let go of the "head trash" and you'll be amazed by what can happen! --The Successful Soloist

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6. Lack of focus

Small businesses, entrepreneurs, salesman, and managers typically fail because they don't have the right focus. The word focus brings with it the thought of "limited choice," but focus should really mean determining what's important and capitalizing on it. For example:

The small-business owner may think her focus is on selling shoes, but her customers buy from her because of her amazing service.

The entrepreneur may focus on raising money when he should really be focused on signing that first important customer.

The salesman focuses on making the sale while his prospect wants to know how the salesman's services will get the prospect its next promotion.

The manager will focus on giving the staff raises, while the team may prefer more time off or a flexible work schedule.

Taking the time to truly understand and align your focus can be the easiest way to achieve your next level of success. --Lean Forward

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