#132: Roadblocks—12 Impediments to Success

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Have you ever noticed that some people are successful at nearly everything they put their hand to? Have you ever noticed that some people fail over and over?


I know a couple of people who have a “gold thumb” for business. They are exceptionally bright, well-reasoned people. But most of the successful people I know are plodders. They work and fail, work and fail, but eventually they find success.

Whether you have a “gold thumb” or you are a plodder, if you are an achiever chances are that you plan, prepare, and implement well. When you fail chances are it is because of one of the twelve roadblocks listed below. Knowing them, confronting them, and building around them will increase your chance for success.

Roadblock #1:  Money

It is amazing to me the number of businesses that fail due to under-capitalization.

Jesus said, “For which of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:28-30 NAS)

Roadblock #2:  Time

There isn’t an engineer alive who would build a new plant without thinking of when the plant needed to be open, and work backward in time thinking about the work needed and time required to complete each phase of the work.

This kind of project management is common among engineers but sadly, is lacking in many of our other corporate disciplines. If you don’t give yourself plenty of time to complete each task, along with extra time for the inevitable snags and delays, you will be frustrated with missed deadlines.

Roadblock #3:  Failure to Plan

Every week in the local newspaper there is a feature highlighting a local start-up business. One question they ask these entrepreneurs is, “Did you write a business plan?” A few answer “yes”, some say “they wrote the big things down”, but most say “no, they worked and learned as they went”.

A verse in Ecclesiastes (10:10) pertains to the non-planning entrepreneur; “If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success”. If you start chopping wood before you sharpen your ax, you can still chop wood, but it will take a lot more work, it will take longer than expected, and the results might not meet your expectations.

Roadblock #4:  Failure to Focus

Sometimes when we start a project we get so immersed in the details of the job that we lose focus on the reason for the project, the vision.

This happened to Martha as she prepared dinner for Jesus, “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!”” (Luke 10:40).

Roadblock #5:  Procrastination

Procrastination is the enemy of accomplishment.

There is a Greek proverb that goes, “The beginning is the half of every action.” Getting started is often the most difficult part of any job. If you’ve been putting off a big project try breaking it down into manageable parts. Remember, you eat an elephant one bite at a time, and you have to start somewhere!

Roadblock #6:  Pessimism

If you think a job cannot be done, you’re right. No one ever thinking a thing impossible accomplished the impossible.

Many of the inventions we take for granted today were thought to be impossible just a few years ago. When my grandmother was born the Wright brothers were still tinkering and most of the electric appliances that we use every day didn’t exist. The “scientists” of the day thought them to be impossible.

Roadblock #7:  Over-Confidence

Over-confidence can kill a project any time after you start.  The over-confident manager refuses to listen to reason and refuses to see the reality of a situation. Solomon said, “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes?  There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Prov. 26:12).

The over-confident manager is soon humbled. Proverbs reminds us to listen to advice from others rather than doing things our own way, “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice” (Prov. 12:15).

Roadblock #8:  Over-Control

Some managers have a terrible time delegating. They like to think of themselves as good delegators, strong motivators who encourage their people to grow. But the truth is they try to control every aspect of every job their employees are working on.

Moses had a similar problem. He spent day after day settling petty disputes among the people. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro said, “You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” So he suggested that Moses appoint capable, trustworthy judges over tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands and; that he teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they were to perform (Exodus 18).

Roadblock #9:  Fear of Failure

Fear of failure often sabotages the best-intended employee or entrepreneur. What do you risk by trying? You will either succeed or fail. But one thing is sure if you do not try you have failed.

The writer of Proverbs said, “for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again…” (Prov. 24:16). In Ecclesiastes, it says, “There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake” (Eccl. 7:20 GN). Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from trying.

Roadblock #10:  Improper Skills

An important but often overlooked area of planning is consideration of the skills that will be required to be successful.

An engineer designs a new computer and starts a new company. He doesn’t know much about marketing, finance, or distribution but his product is so good he figures consumers will beat a path to his door. While the company is small his determination pulls him through difficulties, but as the company grows he is no longer able to touch every aspect of his business directly and the company flounders. If he sees the problem and hires people who understand marketing, finance, and distribution chances are he will succeed. If not, he is doomed to failure.

Roadblock #11:  Poor Execution

Any job worth doing is worth doing well. Paul writes to the Colossians, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Col. 3:23).

There are a million details in most work and attention to detail will often make the difference between success and failure. An O-ring costing less than a dollar failed and cost billions of dollars and the lives of eleven people when the shuttle Challenger blew up. There are O-rings in your business too.

Roadblock #12:  Lack of Resolve

What is it that separates achievers from those that try, fail, and quit? Resolve. Determination. The desire to see a thing through to the end. This is what separates an achiever from a non-achiever.

There are as many excuses for failure as there are people who fail; “I didn’t have enough capital”, “I didn’t think the competition would be so stiff”, “People just didn’t understand the benefits of my product”. The list goes on and on. The achiever doesn’t accept excuses for why a thing cannot be done but looks instead for a way that it can be done.

One Final Thought

God called to Moses from the burning bush and said, “I have seen the misery of my people…I have heard them cry out…I am concerned for their suffering…So I have come down to rescue them…So now go, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt (Ex. 3).

Then the excuses start. Moses says, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” God reassures him by saying that He will be with him. Then Moses says, “What if the Israelites don’t believe me?”  God reassures him again and gives Moses specific instructions for what to say to the people. Moses again says, “What if the people don’t believe me?” So God gave Moses signs to give to the people so that they would believe. Moses then says, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent.”  God reassures him again saying that he will give him the words to say. Moses finally says, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Finally, God gets annoyed with Moses and agrees to let his brother Aaron do the talking.

We can “what if” ourselves to death and never get anything accomplished. But God’s work is too important to ignore. Let’s stop offering excuses and start making ourselves available to do His work, trusting that He will provide for us; “God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

Bonus Whitepaper – Roadblocks

If you would like a broader discussion of the roadblocks to success you may download a free whitepaper: Roadblocks—12 Impediments to Success.

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Category: Personal Development | Self Discipline



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