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  • Writer's pictureFrederick L Shelton

Sometimes the Biggest Impediment To Your Success is People Who Love You

When people think of those who might interfere with their ability to succeed, they think of critics, competitors, coworkers who dislike them or even their own self-image. What they don't think about is the people who love them most.

I can't tell you how many times I've talked with attorneys who could have started their own firm or gone to work for a more entrepreneurial firm where their income would have DOUBLED, and their spouse or partner stopped them from taking even a minimal risk.

If your partner loves you while you're succeeding at mediocrity or playing it safe, ask them whether they will still love you if you take a risk and pursue your dreams. It's a big ask, but if you think about it, asking you not to go after your dreams is a much bigger ask. If they argue against you taking a risk, argue back. Be insistent. Be adamant. If they tell you that pursuing your dreams could damage your relationship, let them know that the resentment of being stopped from doing so, could have the same effect. One of the things that has made clear I've married well, is that my wife has always encouraged me to pursue every dream I've had - no matter how big the risk to both of us!

Another group that can be a huge impediment to your success, is your closest friends. When I first started reading books about success, going to seminars and changing my habits (like say, doing bong hits first thing in the morning), my two room-mates and closest friends noticed. Then I got my hair cut and spent some of my weed money on a suit. I started going to Toastmasters to learn how to speak like a businessperson. I started applying for better jobs and eventually got a “suit & tie job”. That was when I heard a telltale phrase that you should recognize as an attempt to hold you back:

"You've changed, man. Who are you trying to be, anyway?"

That was the whole point. I was trying to be more than a I was. I was growing as a person and more significantly, I realized I was outgrowing my friends. I've had to leave more people behind on my way to success, than I could count. If you want to succeed, you will too.

The final impediment to your success might surprise you. It’s your family. Your family can be one of the biggest detractors to your success! Why?

Your family has a mental snapshot of who you are, based on the time in your life that they most strongly relate to you. Parents will always see you as their little boy or girl. Siblings will remember you as that awkward, selfish, bratty, lazy insecure kid, (usually between the age of 8 and 14) or as their rival for your parents attention. This also applies to a lesser extent, to extended family, depending on how often you saw them.

It can also be very difficult for a parent - and especially a sibling to accept the concept that you could end up being wildly more successful than they are. When I decided to start my own business, I was told that I didn't have the education, experience or self-discipline to run a business - by my own family members. They meant well and were just trying to "protect" me. They didn't want me to leave the security of a guaranteed paycheck. They didn't want me to fail.

Of course later on when I had been enjoying the success that resulted from taking a risk, working hard, catching a couple lucky breaks and never giving up, they all said the same thing: "We knew you could do it!". The temptation to remind them of their previous warnings was great, but I refrained. Because back then, they really did mean well. So I just smiled and thanked them. That's when I knew I'd arrived.

Remember, sometimes well-meaning friends and other people who love you, can be the biggest impediment to your success. Don't resent them (even if later, they resent your success). Don't argue with them. Just keep your eyes on the prize and keep moving forward.

When you do succeed, handle it with grace and aplomb. Frederick Shelton CEO & President Shelton & Steele


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