10 Ways People Get in Their Own Way

Have you read Falling Forward by John Maxwell? It’s a great read!

I compiled this post several years ago, after reading the book and it continues to be one of my favorites whenever I find myself ‘lost’ in my business goals.

I hope it does the same for you! Here are 10 ways people get in their own way:


1) Poor People skills.   I was talking to someone the other day and she was complaining about not winning a contract,  “It wasn’t fair… all the people knew each other and we didn’t have a chance.  It’s all politics.”

But what she went on to describe wasn’t politics. It was lack of relationships!

Most careers involve other people.   You can have great academic intelligence and still lack social intelligence—the ability to be a good listener, to be sensitive toward others, to give and take criticism well.

If people don’t like you, they may help you fail… On the other hand, you can get away with serious mistakes if you are socially intelligent…a mistake may actually further your career if your boss/client thinks you handled the situation in a mature and responsible way.


2) A Negative Attitude. Your reaction to the circumstances of your life has everything to do with your well-being and your success.    If your circumstances constantly get you down, then maybe its time for a change—not in your situation, but in your attitude.    If you can learn to make the best of any situation, you can remove a formidable obstacle that stands between you and your dreams, you have to remember that you have to be open to receive those things you desire in life.


3) “A Bad Fit”. After we check our attitude, we should examine IF a change in situation is in order.  IF you learn to make the best of any situation, you can remove a formidable obstacle that stands between you and your dreams.   Does anything need change today?    If so, what?    Does anything need to be “tolerated” and “accepted today” that can’t be changed—then accept it!    Few things in life are more frustrating than being stuck in a profession that doesn’t serve you. It’s like wearing shoes that are 2 sizes too large or small.


4) Lack of Focus. Bad things happen when a person doesn’t focus. One day a business man visited a small florist shop to order flowers for a friend opening a new business. The shop owner was unusually busy and scrambling to fill orders while she took the businessman’s information.   Later that day, the man arrived at his friend’s grand opening and saw a big floral wreath with his name written on it that said, ‘With Deepest Sympathy During This Time of Sorrow’    The businessman was irate.   He called the florist to complain and asked “What in the world happened?  Do you have any idea how stupid you make me look?”  “I’m so sorry,” the shop owner said, “I was a little scrambled when you came by.  Your situation wasn’t nearly as bad as it was at the Perth funeral care. That card said, “Best Wishes in Your New Location.”

Anybody can make an honest mistake when things are hectic.   But people lacking focus have trouble not because they’re too busy, but because their priorities are not straight.  And that wastes their time and resources.  If you go from task to task to task without making any progress or you can’t seem to reach a goal no matter how much effort you give it, examine your focus. No one can move forward without it.

People lacking focus have trouble not because they’re too busy, but because their priorities are not straight.



5) A Weak Commitment. For a long time, it seemed that apathy was chic. Guess what? Effort and commitment are back in style.


Until one is committed, there is hesitance, the chance to draw back and always ineffectiveness.   The moment one definitely commits oneself,  a whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


The last time you failed, did you stop trying because you failed, or did you fail because you stopped trying? What was your level of commitment? Did you give the task everything you had? Did you go the extra mile?  You put enough of yourself on the line to guarantee that you would give your very best.

If you’re committed, a failure doesn’t mean that you’ll never succeed.  It just means you will take longer.

Commitment makes you capable of failing forward, UNTIL you reach your goals.


6) An Unwillingness to Change. Perhaps the most relentless enemy of achievement, personal growth and success is inflexibility.


Some people seem to be so in love with the past they can’t deal with the present.


Albert Gray says, “The common denominator of success lies in forming the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”

If you continually give in to your moods or impulses, then you need to change your approach to doing things.   The best methods is to set standards for yourself that require accountability (hint, hint: ETTWomen) and suffering a consequence for not following through, helps you stay on track.

Once you have your new standards, work according TO THEM -NOT YOUR MOODS.


7) A Shortcut Mind Set. A common obstacle to success is cutting corners and taking a short road to success.  It never pays off.

As Napoleon said, “Victory belongs to the most persevering”. Most people underestimate the time it takes to achieve something of value, not just to be successful, but be willing to pay your dues.

James Watt spent 20 years laboring to perfect his steam engine.   William Henry labored night and day for 8 years to prove how blood circulated in the human bodies.  It took another 25 years for the medical profession to acknowledge he was right!

Cutting corners is a sign of impatience and poor discipline. If you’re willing to follow through, you can achieve a breakthrough. Self-discipline is a quality won through practice. Mancusi noted, “Truly successful people have learned to do what does not come naturally!”

Real success lies in experiencing fear -or a version of it- and ACTING IN SPITE OF IT!”


8) Relying on Talent Alone. Talent is overrated.  It has value, but it isn’t enough to take a person through the multiple failures that life brings. Adding a strong work ethic to talent is like pouring gasoline on a fire—it’s explosive! Those who rely upon talent alone without developing further, peak quickly and soon fade to obscurity. The greater your talent, the more likely you are to lean heavily on it and skip the hard day-to-day work of improving it. If you possess this negative tendency, put yourself on a growth plan to make the most of your God-given talent.


9) A Response to Poor Information. Don’t make weighty decisions based on limited amounts of information. Gain reliable information!

General Douglas MacArthur wrote, “Expect only 5 percent of an intelligence report to be accurate.  The trick of a good commander is to isolate the 5%”    Does this go along with the truth, “Don’t take advice from someone you wouldn’t trade places with?” Be careful where you get your advice and information! At this pace of life and business increases, the difficulty of being able to collect and evaluate information will increase.


10) No goals! The last major cause of failure is an absence of goals.

Don Marquis perceives “Ours is a world of people who don’t know what they want.” Joe Griffith believes, “A goal is nothing more than a dream with a time limit. Many people don’t have goals because they don’t allow themselves to dream. Without a dream, there is no desire!   Without desire, there is nothing to describe you!

If you can discover the weakness that weakens you, you can start doing something about it, and that can change your life!

If it helps, talk to a trusted friend who can help you, join a support group. Put yourself on a growth plan to turn the weaknesses into a strengths!