The 2 Enemies to your Success—and how to defeat them

The 2 Enemies to your Success
FEAR is the number one reason that people never achieve their breakthrough to success. Yes, we can blame other people for not giving us the chance. We can lament that we took the wrong course. We can express concern about the uncertainty of obtaining that success, and maybe, just maybe I'll look stupid.

In short, our fear comes down to two enemies. Our uncertain future and our excuses from the past. Or. More simply: “what if” and “If only”.

Or. More simply: “what if” and “If only”.

When you have a goal worth achieving, you will need to achieve breakthroughs.

Breakthroughs that take you outside of your comfort zone and going outside your comfort zone is fearful.

So what can you do to ensure that you create the necessary breakthroughs that will lead to your dramatic transformation?

And we have to conquer two enemies: “What if” and “If Only”

And each requires you to do two things:

  1. Take courage
  2. Get off your ‘but’


Take courage

Let me share a brief personal story:

Known as the Swiss Wall, La Chavanette at Avoriaz is one of the most dangerous ski slopes in the world.

It is a disturbingly steep, mogul run and the slope gets icy quickly, turning the area between moguls into ice sheets. Not making a turn in these situations means that you miss the next mogul, and pick up too much speed to make the next one after that, starting off a tumble that ends a couple of hundred metres down the slope, while hitting a few dozen icy bumps in the course.

A number of years ago, as a reasonable, but by no means good skier, I decided that I just had to conquer this slope.

Why? Well, I can only now think that it was a moment of sheer madness. At the time, however, I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

Standing at the top of the slope, I looked down the 40 degree slope with considerable fear mixed with trepidation, mixed with determination and a whole lot of cortisol and adrenaline pumping through my body.

I took about 5 minutes to muster up the courage. To launch myself off the edge.

You cannot change the past You can only do it different next time around

You cannot change the past
You can only do it different next time around

It was exhausting, knee jangling, hard concentrated deliberate movements. Desperately remembering to keep my weight down the hill and my edges as loose as I dared. Turn after turn after turn after turn. Around one mogul, push off, turn, shift weight, edge, again and again and again. Endorphins took over from the adrenaline to mask the pain in my legs and screaming lungs.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, I arrived at the bottom of the slope. My legs like jelly, my heart racing tears from the icy wind streaming down my face. Every fibre of my body was pulsing with electricity and sheer, unbounded joy as dopamine filled my entire being. I was alive, I had done it. I hadn’t fallen. I had conquered the wall.

I hadn’t been fast. It hadn’t been elegant. But it had been me.

FEAR is the #1 issue when it comes to making a personal breakthrough.

FEAR is what you FEEL when your Amygdala (the emotional centre of your brain) considers that there is a threat to you and signals the production of Cortisol.
Cortisol floods your blood stream and informs your heart to beat faster, your lungs to pump faster, your legs and arms to prepare to run or to fight and since all this demands energy, your digestive system is shut down. What you FEEL is warmer, you’ll perspire more due to the energy in your muscles and faster heart beat. You have “butterflies” in your stomach as the digestive tract is closed for business (heck who needs to digest food if you are about to be eaten…

Only, you are not about to be eaten. It’s highly likely that you are not about to die, nor about to get injured.

The amygdala response is a primitive and essential trigger for survival. But it is very poor at distinguishing between a real threat to life and limb, and one that might possibly hurt your pride. It’s the same cortisol induced response.

Your amygdala is essentially like a sentry guard checking the external environment and your own thinking process for the slightest sign of a threat to you. It is a trigger happy sentry guard at that, shooting first and asking questions later.

Everytime you are thinking about stepping out of your comfort zone, your amygdala is going “what if this… what if that…”

There is good news. You have a brain that is much more than your amygdala. You have a neo-cortex. You are intelligent and can consciously choose to think and choose to override the amygdala.

There is a snag. The amygdala has already pulled the trigger on cortisol production. THEN you can think. It is a deliberate, conscious effort. One that you are perfectly capable of doing. I know this. Because I know that you have moved out of your warm bed today. That was a safe place. Comfortable too. The world outside. Well it’s full of threats. You could get knocked down by a bus. A freak wind could come and blow your house away. You could be struck by lightening. All are possible. Yet you still got out of bed this morning. That took courage.

And, you’ve been on a plane and flown somewhere?

Do you know the pilot personally? You probably didn’t even see the pilot and you trusted your very life to someone you don’t know and haven’t even seen. And you’re onboard a metal tube, filled with explosive fuel traveling at 600 miles an hour some 3 miles above the planet.

You see, you take courage every day. Some days more than others. Well if you can board a plane, you can get a personal breakthrough.

Courage, after all, is doing something with fear.

If what you are doing is not fearful. It ain’t going to be a breakthrough.

Get off your but

Now, I’m not being rude here. This is BUT with a single T, not two. I am not referring to your backside. I mean, get off your excuses.

This is your second breakthrough enemy.


If only refers to yesterday and more often than not, somebody else or something else that you don’t control.

  • If only the economy was better…
  • If only my boss would recognize my hard work
  • If only the weather was warmer
  • If only I hadn’t eaten that slice of cake

The variation of If only is the “should family”. I should have, he should, she should, they should.

The simple fact of the matter is this: There are things pertaining to your dreams and goals that you are not able to control.

Life happens all the time.

And, you have made mistakes.

Actually, I’d better check here, is there anyone listening who hasn’t ever made a single mistake? Is there somebody out there who is perfect in every way? If there is, what are you doing here?

We all do things that we regret. Things we should have done, things we should NOT have done. People we crossed. Choices we made.

These have happened.

These are NOT excuses. These are opportunities to do something different from now on.

In another podcast How to hack motivation to make you happier, I shared that your happiness of your success is achieved when you are progressively moving towards the achievement of your goals that are beyond your current comfort zone, so that they stretch you. Your progress towards those breakthrough goals makes you happy.

Today, I’ve shared the fact that you have two main enemies to achieving those breakthroughs – “If Only” and “What IF” and how you take courage and get off your but to choose to continue on in spite of your fear.

So what do we do about it.

We acknowledge the facts. Yes, maybe you SHOULD have done something different. But you didn’t. Simply acknowledge this is so. Even if this is someone else’s perception (and their perception is “wrong” – it is still their perception and maybe they shouldn’t have that perception, but they do.

Harsh? Some of you may think this is too much. That they really should change, that it isn’t you that needs to change but them. But whether they do or not doesn’t matter. Only you can look after you.

You may have disappointments or regrets about the past. Acknowledge these.

Once we acknowledge the past, we can learn from it. Are there any patterns? What would you do differently now, knowing what did happen.

Thirdly we adjust our behaviour from now.

Put the past where it belongs:

  1. Acknowledge what happened
  2. Learn from it, and
  3. Adjust behaviour.

What if I do that and there's a problem in the future?

If only someone would tell me the real secret to success…. Oh, yes, I did that a couple of weeks ago in a podcast on The Three Step Secret to Success – How to realise your dreams

One thing you can do right now is give this podcast a rating and a review on the website, iTunes or Stitcher now. Your review and rating will help other people overcome their obstacles of their past and their future.

Be greatly blessed

John K

Professional Leadership Caddy

I help people unlock their talent, unstuck their potential and unleash their own (and their team's) performance through behavioural neuroscience based coaching and mentoring.

Most whip smart independent contributors, technical specialists and managers get frustrated trying to be heard and understood by their business leaders and they lack enough time and inclination to develop the skills they need to move into management and leadership positions.

Proven systems. A personal coach and mentor.

I combine time-tested systems, behavioural neuroscience and psychology research and practical tools with the accountability and guidance of a 1:1 coach and mentor to UnLock your Talent, UnStuck Your Potential and UnLeash Your Performance.

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