7 attitudes that cause complete success paralysis

Life can be monotonous. One reason I believe so firmly in helping you guys seek financial freedom is so your lives can be more VIBRANT. However for some, financial freedom isn’t what they need, what they really want is change.

We’d like to buy better things, do more interesting projects, and have exciting adventures. The really strange thing about most people is that they already know exactly how they’d go about achieving these things… so why don’t they?

In this article I share seven of the most common reasons people use to prevent themselves from taking action.

During my years in business, I have worked and partnered with a variety of wonderful people. Sometimes during a project, or a new business venture, I’ve found people become paralysed, and are unable to make important decisions.

This paralysis has caused either:

  • Their business to flounder
  • Their team to become demoralised and lose focus
  • The decision to be put off for a later stage by which time, a lot of competitive advantage has been lost

As a result of this paralysis some even abdicate making those big decisions and pass it on to others.  I can share with you, that every time I have shirked making a decision about a business deal, we’ve lost it.  When it’s your business only you can and should have the final say in the big decisions.

In the same way, success in life is often ruined, or slowed a great deal because of us getting “success paralysis” and become unable to make any worthwhile decisions.

Let’s examine seven major reasons how people get paralysed and how to get past the paralysis.

1. Paralysis by Analysis

scientists, paralysis, success
For close to a century the countries best minds have been trying to figure out which toothpaste is truly the best to buy Image credit: Urcommunication

The most well-known paralysis is paralysis by analysis. Also known as “What-if” syndrome, the person paralysed by analysis is the master at finding things that can go wrong. Those afflicted with this kind of paralysis will often describe themselves as “realists” or “pragmatists”.

Analysis paralysis occurs when you can’t STOP thinking about the implications of a wrong choice. We’ve all these thoughts at some point, things like “If I do this, then this might happen, or that might happen,” or “what if this other thing happened, maybe it would be better if I did this other thing over here.”

Analysis paralysis results in a lack of execution. Nothing gets done. No movement forward occurs… only because you can’t decide what move makes sense to make.

In the property courses, I’ve attended there are people who are still attending after several years without making any property investment.   The number one reason – they need “more information”.  Yet I know many who have become successful after attending only a basic property investment course.

2. Paralysis by Self-Analysis

The thinker, Rodan, Wealth
This is a visual metaphor for doing to much self-analysis

Similar to analysis paralysis, but this time the person is paralysed by things that are wrong with themselves – this affliction is often caused by an addiction to too many self-improvement and motivational education via books, courses, and therapists. Common phrases from business people suffering from this affliction include:

  • I need to understand myself better before….
  • When I’ve improved in my communication then I will….

3. Paralysis by lack of Life Purpose

maps, success, thinking
I could’ve sworn “everything I’ve ever wanted” was somewhere round here…

One of the things I’ve struggled with, and seen many others struggle with is this mentality: “I can’t do a job, hobby until I find my purpose in life because it has to tie in with my life purpose.”

This mind-set may have been created by attending a great motivational talk or reading a book. A huge amount of the thought-leaders and literature share this idea of maximising effort toward your life purpose, but this can caused a lot of harm.

The truth is very few people discover their true life purpose until they’ve matured and experienced a little more in life. Some never discover their life purpose until very late in life.

If you are one of the lucky ones (I’ve known less than ten) who still hasn’t found their life purpose – don’t worry. Your life purpose will find you – just get on with your life, your business and do what makes sense to you.

There are so called gurus who claim they can help you find your life purpose in under an hour and if that helps, wonderful.  However my belief is that many of these “find your life purpose” teachers have limited effect on people who have not had sufficient maturity and life experience.

4. Paralysis through lack of God inspiration

God, success, paralysed
 Image Credit: Resk

This is very similar to paralysis through lack of life purpose. However in this case a religious person has shifted the responsibility onto hearing “a word from God”.

Having attended many spiritual events of Christianity and other religions, it always deeply saddens me to see people waiting to hear from God before they will make a decision – some common things I used to hear:

  • I need direction from God before I can decide whether to marry, take this job etc etc
  • I am praying for the perfect partner, God will bring them miraculously into my life

I am a great believer in faith, but there is also a component of faith called “action.” Without action faith can never work. It reminds of a joke about a man stuck in a flood:

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.

Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”

The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.”

So the rowboat went on.

Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”

To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

So the motorboat went on.

Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”

To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.

Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”

To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect? 

5. Paralysis by latest and greatest ideas

UP, dog, squirrel, success
Image Credit: Pixar

This is also commonly known as “bright shiny object syndrome.” With ‘bright, shiny object’ syndrome, people jump from one good idea to another without really thinking through the implications.

In several businesses, I used to work in, the CEOs used to come to my office on almost a daily or weekly basis about a new product that we should get involved with or a new widgets that would help improve our website(s).

‘Bright, shiny object’ syndrome tempts us to try the next big thing.

With a new business idea, you need a new roadmap, a new website, support training in the business service or product, sales training in the business and many other extras.

The business is paralysed by constant changing and never really gets started.  By the time the person suffering from this “condition” has got their first sale – some other exciting proposition will have fallen in their path. They will either spend several days thinking about this new opportunity or jump into this new opportunity thus sabotaging all the previous work done.

An important aspect of success is to set out your success roadmap and follow the plan.

6. Paralysis by positivity

wealth, success, passionate
And she’s been stuck like that ever since

I love positive people! They make much better company than negative ones – however many so called “positive people” fail to achieve in life and end up depressed or give up on aspects of life. Why?

Being positive in itself does not on its own help you reach your life goals. There is a cost to every goal, every project, and anything we want to achieve in life. Many positive thinking people fail to realise that there are steps to achieving a goal. Those steps will incur challenges.

Examples where positive thinking fails:

  • My garden is fantastic it has great soil, fantastic nutrients and prevents weeds from growing
    • Weeds will still grow no matter what someone thinks
  • Lots of great companies are waiting to do business with me
    • Without marketing yourself and asking for orders no one will place orders with you.
  • A great partner will magically appear in my life…
    • Without going on dates, putting profiles on dating sites, networking and generally asking people out, that great partner will never appear in your life

Thinking positively on its own is a recipe for disaster and is, quite simply, day-dreaming in excess because nothing ever gets done.

7. Paralysis by negativity

“Nothing ever works,” “That’s a stupid idea,” “Who would want to do that?” Have you ever tried to brainstorm with a negative person about situations and challenges in their own lives?   What ends up happening is lack of any ideas from the negative person and constant criticising of other people’s ideas.

Some more examples include:

  • “There is too much competition”
  • “We did that before and it failed”
  • “It will never work because….”
  • “It’s over-priced….”

The stock negative phrases are endless.  One business was so controlled by the negativity of a technical person that they missed out on so many initiatives that would have easily quadrupled the size of their business.

In the end, negative people drain everyone and are unable to achieve anything of importance in their own lives and will starve the business of a natural evolution and progression.

How to cure yourself of success paralysis

Freddie Mercury, success, wealth
You now have “I want to break free” stuck in your brain Image Credit:Peter Still/Redferns

The cure for most types of success paralysis is the ready fire aim approach.  The ready fire aim approach is an excellent decision making tool and expects the decision to be wrong no matter what the decision is.

Essentially the ready fire aim approach says “Make a decision,  any decision”. The majority of decisions, no matter how much due diligence has been done, will be wrong because decisions cannot cater for every single scenario, situation and circumstance.

  1. Ready: Plan and do as much due diligence and within a fixed time scale. So prepare as best as you can.
  2. Fire: Make a decision based on what you know. Some business coaches will say if you don’t feel you have sufficient information but have run out of time, then make a decision based on gut feel.
  3. Aim: Means readjust and evolve your decision. Once your decision has been made, expect to recalibrate, or fix the kinks with the decision.   Then reload and fire again.

Using the ready, fire, aim technique will help you make decisions faster, learn faster and reach your goals and life dreams faster.  When the decision is wrong you will learn so much more than simple theorising.

The lessons from every wrong decision made also has a compound effect. This compound effect will quickly educate you on what does work, as well as what doesn’t and the reasons why.  Over time these reasons will be embedded in your psyche and help you to make better decisions faster.


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