What really gets in the way of success?

Leadership Blog  |  2 minute read

Bella Blazewicz

Written by Bella Blazewicz

What really gets in the way of success?

As a mother of 2 strapping men to be, I have a front row seat at the show “What really gets in the way of success!”.

Both will soon face critical exam junctures and both boys are somewhat nervous.  So, in my infinite wisdom (!!) I considered that perhaps some exam practice would be a beneficial activity to pursue over the upcoming bank holiday.


Polar opposites

One child attacks life as he does rugby: full on, smashing into everything and learning in a visceral way that some things hurt.  Yet he has no doubt in himself and keeps on pushing towards his clearly defined goal relentlessly. Exam papers are returned with horrendous results and are then snatched back with a demand to know where precisely he went wrong, only to pick himself up, work out why, grab the next paper and makes strides to not make that mistake again.  And progress reveals itself in fits and starts.

The other is the opposite: unhappy to sit any paper as he already believes he is insufficiently prepared.  After some encouragement, he finally completes a past paper and hands it back.  The grade is significantly better than his brother’s, but it is in no way satisfactory to him and the physical and mental shut down ensues.  Progress is halted, no further work can be cajoled out of him that day.

As a leader (of children and/or of business) this is one of the most frustrating experiences, especially as you are often painfully aware of the opportunity loss that exists on both sides.  So, how do we support people to reach their full potential? How do we help move them into action from their own free will and courageously step out of what is comfortable?  How do we really convey that it is OK to try something different and risk ‘failure’ in the pursuit of unknown future successes?


The little difference with BIG impact

The significant difference in my boys is they have very different inner monologues about their capability. The first, no doubts of his potential success, the second, many.  The inner monologues that people have about themselves and their capabilities are not actually THE truth, but their version of the truth.  It is merely their frame of reference of how they see the world and their place within it. Neither boy has an entirely truthful monologue, but one way of thinking may be more helpful than the other in terms of getting the best exam grades. 

Our job as leaders is to have our teams step into their full capability to drive the business.  Not just to maintain the currently trajectory, but to create a future of success outside the current limitations.  It is our own little voice of what we really believe we are capable of that facilitates or sabotages us on the road to success. This could be argued from an individual or an organisational perspective.  Through shifting how people see themselves, by unburdening them of the limitations they hold, we can support them in fine tuning their capabilities, their mindset and step into their full potential.  And ultimately generate a leadership capability that will serve you in the future.  We can all benefit from becoming acutely aware of what our little voices are saying, and through this ensure that our monologues are supporting us in achieving the success we want.  Even the most successful among us will likely hold a host of limitations as the truth which restricts the ease in which we can deliver what we really, really want. Which is why I see this is as a lesson that will benefit my boys as they begin their journeys, but also a skill that my team and I will need to remember and re-learn regularly to continually challenge our thinking and our ability to deliver great results!