How to Navigate the Invisible Barriers to Success

Introduction: Invisible Barriers to Success

Oftentimes, we are blind to the invisible barriers to success, which keep us stuck in our ways. It could be staring us right in the face, but because of our lack of experience or ignorance, we cannot seem to get around them.

Walls of Eryx: A Poignant Story

One of my favorite stories which illustrates this concept quite well is the Walls of Eryx. On a Venus mining mission, the protagonist becomes entrapped in a maze of invisible walls while trying to extricate from the labyrinth with a precious crystal that provides electricity. A native species of lizards regard the site as sacred and fervently guard these crystals, attacking any humans who try to take them.

Even though he was able to reach the center of the maze where the crystals reside, escaping proves to be an entirely different set of challenges. He spends weeks on end navigating the labyrinth, trying to escape. He cannot mark the walls, either with his gun or knife to see where he has been. He cannot climb over the walls as they are quite high. He cannot dig under the walls as they extend quite deep into the Venusian earth. The earth will not stick to the walls either. So, he is forced to constantly retrace his steps from the center of the maze back out. Each time, he fails. Each time, he has to retrace his steps, starting over from the center of the maze.

Going in Circles

Despite his best intentions to escape, he eventually runs out of food and water. With the lizards mocking him just outside the maze the entire time, he eventually succumbs to death.

When a rescue team finds him just mere minutes after his death, they are puzzled. His body was just a few feet from an invisible door that would have led him to freedom. Ironically, this man had passed by the door several hundred times while attempting to escape the maze of invisible walls.

The moral of the story is that we can spend a long time spinning our wheels, trying to get unstuck from the mud. But, we cannot escape if we are missing key pieces of information. These are the invisible barriers to success.

Unconscious Incompetence

Too often in our quest for success, we do not know what we do not know. Another way of putting this is we are unconsciously incompetent. If someone had just shown us the way, then we would be well on our way to success.

What if I told you that it’s impossible to get to the place of your dreams from where you are? Instead, you have to come from the place of your dreams. After all, how can you expect to use the same frequency of thinking to solve your problems, when it was that very thinking which created them in the first place? Consider working on your faculties of the imagination, reason, the will, memory, perception, and intuition in order to come from the place of your dreams.

Case in Point

A good example is when you try to achieve something that you have never done before. You don’t quite know how to get there so you hang back, afraid of even trying. Or, you might try and fail many times, always wondering just how to accomplish that goal.

Your story becomes this: I lack the experience and the knowledge to get there. This is the invisible wall to success.

We all know how to achieve a new goal that utilizes our current knowledge. Been there. Done that. Yet, how often do we try to reach new goals beyond what we do know?

It’s hard to venture into new territory, to try new things, and to take risks. Yet, look back at everything great you have ever accomplished in your life. Did you have the experience and the knowledge to get there?

Of course not.

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. Michelangelo

Faith Based on Understanding

You likely achieved what at the time was a lofty goal by having faith that it will somehow all work out. You might have studied or been mentored by other people who already achieved what you are trying to achieve. They provide the guidance and knowledge to show you how to get there. You just kept the faith based on that understanding.

In other words, you knew. That knowing makes all the difference. That knowing allows you to have faith based on understanding rather than blindness.

As long as you keep doing the same things as those trailblazers who preceded you, then you will get there. It is only a matter of time.

You will find a way around this invisible wall, keeping you from success.

Achieving the Never Achieved Before

What if your goals are loftier yet? What if you are the Wright Brothers attempting to achieve flight for the first time? What if you are NASA trying to send humans to Mars? What if you are Chuck Yeager attempting to break the sound barrier?

The potential reward is great, but the uncertainty is greater yet. In this case, you will have to base your results on knowing that is based on previous understanding. You will have to base your knowing on prior experiences.

Yet, there will always be uncertainty in what you are doing. After all, you are traveling into new, virgin territory.

You have to keep taking chances and try new things. In other words, you are experimenting to see what could help you get to new territory. You are building up your knowledge base. You are eliminating uncertainty that comes now in knowing what you don’t know.

Try. Try. Try.

Look back at every great achievement you ever had in your life. It all started with a simple decision to try.

If other people already did what you are trying to accomplish, then you know it is possible so long as you persevere and persist.

Find a coach who can quickly point out mistakes and guide you. They were in your position, having made many mistakes themselves. They can quickly identify what you are doing wrong and suggest corrective action.

In short, they can help you break down the invisible barriers to success much more quickly than if you went at it yourself.

And if you are venturing into new, never-been-explored territory you now have to base your results on previous experience and knowledge. By taking progressive action towards your goal, you are learning and growing. Slowly, you build up more and more specialized knowledge which is needed to achieve this goal.

Remember: Goals are not about getting. Goals are about growing, so go after big the goals, especially the ones that scare you.

Accepting and learning from failures (also called mistakes) along the way is also part of the overall equation. You build up knowledge and experience based on your mistakes. This allows you to incrementally work towards goals which might have once upon a time been insurmountable.

So, knowing is everything.

Quantum Leaps

Even though knowing is everything, you also need to make a conscious effort to monitor your thoughts that lead to your actions. The danger in persisting and persevering is we put ourselves at great risk of thinking trying harder is the solution when trying harder in itself is often the problem.

Question your beliefs often, and ask yourself if there is something you can do to jump ahead by leaps and bounds. For example, you could simply be following the wrong guidance which causes you to run around in circles when much better guidance exists.

Did you know one of the quickest way to become a master at something is to find models and start hanging around people closest to what you want to become?

So, if you want to be a master at something, find clubs or seminars that specialize in what you want to do. Start modeling after the best people. Find coaches who can show you what to do. That sure sounds a lot better than trying for years on end, never having a clue why what you did doesn’t work. Sometimes, all it takes is a small tweak to affect big changes; yet, if you cannot see what tweak to make, you will be stuck for a long time.

Overcoming the Invisible Barriers to Success

Knowing is important. Knowing what you are doing matters most, even if you what you seek is still beyond your reach. This is faith. Faith is based on knowing.

Find people closest to what you want to become and model yourself after the best. Take chances and be ready to fail often. Constantly monitor your thoughts and question your preconceived notions. Ask yourself if there is anything you can do to jump by leaps and bounds.

Overtime, you will find yourself on the other side of the invisible barriers to success.


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