The 3 Barriers to Your Success

I find that when we reflect on our business and personal performance, there are always areas where we could have improved. I’m sure there are plenty of times when things have gone extremely well, and it’s worthwhile reflecting on what the drivers were behind those, so we can improve and grow our business.

Understanding what causes missed opportunities, errors, and generally a low level of performance is also critical to developing our future strategies and plans.

If you stop now and reflect on the previous 12 months and the areas where you could’ve done better or where you lost opportunities, they often come down to things like:

  • I bit off more than I could chew. Often, we take on projects and opportunities that are bigger than our capabilities. As a result, we either fail to deliver or only partially deliver on the outcomes;
  • I didn’t move quickly enough. Too often, we are tentative in our approach and too slow to react which means we lose valuable opportunities that are snapped up by competitors, or the marketplace changes and the opportunities vaporise for the moment;
  • I didn’t have enough information. Too often, we enter an opportunity or a project without enough information for valid decision-making. This often means that we under- or overestimate the level of resourcing required or the expertise required, and as a result, we fail to take full advantage of that opportunity.

There may be other reasons why we’ve missed out on opportunities in the last year or two, but I find that these three are common and appear more often than not for most of my clients and in my business.

The challenge though, is when we start thinking about these factors that have caused us to miss out on opportunities, invariably we focus on actions that we failed to do. And in my experience, this often means that we are not looking for the root cause but rather just addressing symptoms.

We’ve got to look deeply into what stood behind our decision-making in these situations. We often find that there are some underlying drivers that cause us to miss the opportunities – but what are they?

In 2004, I attended a real estate investment workshop conducted by Peter Flanagan. The workshop was excellent, but one of the key things I took away from it is that there are 3 big enemies in property investment. And as I moved through my life, I realised that these same elements apply to business and to personal life just as easily as they apply to property investment.

The 3 key drivers of poor performance are:

• Greed;
• Fear; and,
• Ignorance.

Greed (noun) excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions.

Greed manifests itself in many ways in your business decisions. It can be greed for money, power, influence or cash, but often it can be greed for attention or greed for something that feeds a part of your psyche – it could be attention or notoriety. It could be a whole range of different things but the underlying driver of all those things is basically greed.

In my experience, I find that greed is a basis for making poor decisions because the motivation is wrong. It’s not a balanced decision we’re making if it’s motivated by desire to acquire something or to hold something.

So where has greed impacted on you and your business in the last 12 months?

Fear (noun) concern or anxiety.

Fear is behind many decisions that we make in business, and often, there are two main areas of fear that impact on our decisions.

The first is fear of failure where we are so concerned that our project or opportunity won’t work out that we worry too much and it causes us to make poor decisions.

The second area is fear of success. This is more common than you would think and it’s where we “shoot ourselves in the foot” because we are scared that we are going to exceed our own expectations and sometimes our minds are not capable of handling that. Particularly, if you’ve been programmed by schools, parents and other institutions that believe – potentially, you’re not capable. Sometimes, we may have heroes or somebody that we aspire to be like, and as we start to get up to those levels and even exceed those “hero” levels, we think we’re not worthy.

So, it’s all about self-worth and worthiness. And often, people will make poor subconscious decisions that sabotage our success.

There are other fears that will stop us from doing things, but these are two of the main ones. Fear will often sit behind our decision-making in business.

Do any of these fears play a part in your life?

Ignorance (noun) lack of knowledge, learning, information.

Ignorance is also far more common than you think. Too many people embark on investment and business strategies with very poor sources or no information on what they’re about to engage in.

The challenge here is that we will never have the right amount of information to make decisions, but we should be looking at the amount of information we’ve got, the quality of information and the source.

Information quality is highly variable in this day of internet-based gurus. Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t necessarily mean that the information has been verified and validated. Too much information is based on opinion and some of those opinions are just outright wrong so ensure that you can corroborate the information you’re getting from a variety of independent sources to enable you to make powerful decisions.

The challenge here is “group thinking” where we’re making decisions based on information that everybody assumes to be correct but is often not. As a result, we miss opportunities and make poor decisions.

If you look at the model below which highlights the interactions between these three main drivers: greed, fear and ignorance – we can see that when they overlap, and they often do – there’s often more than one driver in play in many business decisions.

Where we have greed and fear combined, we tend to make tentative decisions. Simply because our motivation is wrong coming from greed but we’re also afraid. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot and therefore we often make decisions that are quite tentative, making us slow to respond.

Where greed and ignorance are combined, we make poor decisions. Because again, our motivation is mismatched because of greed and we just don’t have enough information. Our decision-making is skewed by our focus on the “greed element” as we don’t have information to balance this.

And where fear and ignorance are combined, we have inaction. We just don’t make decisions in that space because we’re fearful and don’t have enough information. So again, we make slow decisions but in particular we just often fail to make any decisions in that space.

So, what can we do to address each of these issues?


With greed, it’s important that we look deep within ourselves and try to understand our motivations. What is it that we’re seeking here? Does this decision align with my purpose in life? If we look at Simon Sinek’s work on “why” – what is my why and does this decision align with my purpose?

Similarly, does this decision align with our values? What are your personal values? These are the underlying set of principles that guide you in your business and in life. And how, does it align clearly with those values? If it does not align with any of those values, we’re in big trouble.

Start from that inner sense of yourself and determine whether greed is playing a factor here. Ask the questions – What are my motivations of doing this? Why am I doing this?

The other thing with greed is we don’t seek third-party advice because we’re afraid that the advice may disagree with what we’re doing. If we’re driven by greed, our motivation is very much around “well, I want it” so external validation or input may compromise that greed decision. Get an honest, independent, third-party validation on your plan and activity to help you overcome this greed.


Overcoming fear is a major issue for many people because it is driven by underlying elements of psychology that may be difficult for us to deal with. Sometimes an external counsellor/psychologist can help you in this space. I, personally, use hypnosis as a tool to help me overcome some of my fears and to maintain my focus on the right thing. Find something that works for you.

Try and isolate your fear and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the potential outcomes of this action?
  • What is the likelihood of this happening?
  • How would I know if things were going awry? Measure?

Also, look back at your track record – reflect and plan.


You can overcome ignorance by doing your research, asking external input, evaluating information thoroughly and being wary of “group think” or “running with the pack.”

Reflect on where you sit in the cycle on this action and ask the hard questions – Why? What? How?

There are three major drivers that underlie many of the decisions we make in business and our personal life. There’s greed, fear and ignorance. The first step to overcoming these challenges is to recognise that they may be already part of your decision-making. And second is to start taking corrective actions to minimise their impact on your decisions.

If you’d like more detail on this topic, please feel free to watch our recorded webinar at or our short video on “The 3 Barriers to Success”.

And if you’d like to discuss how you can start to eliminate these drivers from your decision-making, book a 10-minute phone call with me using the following link

Russell Cummings

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