Several weeks ago, I sent a message to my email list with the following paragraph as a PS:
Hit “Reply” on this email and fill me in on the biggest roadblock you’re currently facing in life or business. Seriously…I read every email and respond to most.
The response was as eye-opening as it was overwhelming! In particular, seven common problems seemed to come up more than any others:
- Feeling overwhelmed in the face of difficult tasks
- Growing your business
- Struggling to find confidence
- Determining when you should and should not help someone
- Thinking you’re too stupid
- Fearing change
- Working a dead-end job
So I decided to set aside a post featuring an example of each one of these problems and the solution I offered back via email.
Why? Because I want you to add to my thoughts in the comments section. Let’s get as many ideas as we can together for pushing past each of the seven roadblocks!
Roadblock #1: Feeling Overwhelmed in the Face of Difficult Tasks
From the Email:
My biggest roadblock is I always do the fun stuff first and tackle the not so fun stuff at the last minute…even when I know it’s more important. It is a bad habit I know…and it causes me to lose sleep because I have to finish the important boring ones last minute.
You already know what fun is. I have a feeling that you look at life in a happy way. That you always have a smile on your face. Your global view of life is one of fun. It’s two categories. One that is a lot of fun. And one that is not so much fun.
You need to be aware that you can make life like a game. A happy one. You already know that you have two choices. And you just admitted that you keep picking the wrong one. Reward yourself in a great way when you pick the not so fun one.
Here’s the trick – only limit yourself to 15 minutes on the not so fun stuff. Literally set a timer. If you have a smart phone, I am sure it has a stopwatch/timer built-in. Set it for 15 minutes and tackle that problem. You can do anything for 15 minutes. Concentrate on this one item.
I am not saying that you will get it all done in 15 minutes. But you will make a huge dent. That will motivate you to either continue for another 15 minutes or pick it up again tomorrow morning. Or later tonight.
I have a feeling that you make a lot of people happy. With that great smile that you have. Continue to do that. But the most critical person to make smile on this planet is YOU. Smile at yourself daily. Know that you’re doing a great job. I know that you will conquer this one thing in segments or chunks of 15 minutes.
Roadblock #2: How to Handle Business Growth
From the Email:
My biggest challenge right now is learning how to manage increased demand for my services.
I’m a marketing consultant and business strategist. At the end of 2013, a lot of opportunities were presented and the trend has continued. It’s great, but I’m used to typically having no more than two clients at a time. I’ll soon be approaching eight.
I’m not making enough yet to support full-time hires, and I really want to keep as much as money as possible.
Any advice? How do personal service providers like consultants or artist managers scale their business?
What a great problem to have. Congratulate yourself for building your business to this level.
The next level is going to feel a little awkward. I know that because you have not gone there. The answer is so obvious to somebody looking at you from the outside. So I want you to join me on this side of the table and let’s look at this brand/product of you.
The demand is high. What always happens to any item on the planet that there’s a huge demand for? The price goes up. Always.
Now I know you’re not about the money. You’re not doing this for the money. But you just admitted that you’re not making enough to do it full-time. So you know money has to be involved.
I started working with a graphic artist when he was right out of college. His degree was in graphic arts. He had a natural talent. He was amazing. Correction, he still is amazing.
He did not believe anyone would pay him for his talent. His art. But I was willing to. So I became his first regular client. He waited on tables to keep a steady stream of money coming in.
With a few recommendations to my friends he suddenly started growing a list of clients. Plus working at the restaurant at nights. He was slammed. Putting in 80 to 90 hours a week. He was exhausted.
He called me one day with the same words in your email. It was then that I met him at his dining room table.
I said, “You have to raise your price.”
“But nobody will pay me,” he said.
“I will,” I replied (Yes, I know that was a dumb move on my part. I literally raised his fee on me.)
Once one person paid that fee, others had to follow. He let all of his clients know that the price was going up in a few weeks. He was sure some would say no and find someone else. His price went up about 40%. It was close to $100 an hour. Would you believe not one client stopped using him?
Now he was still in the same situation of having too many clients…but with a lot more money.
At that point, he weeded out the clients he no longer wanted to work with. He was making more money and dealing with only the happy people. He was elated. He still is.
Roadblock #3: Struggling to Find Confidence
From the Email:
I’ve been a writer practically all my life, and I love the joy of word-weaving. So your posts about writing and keeping up “crazy confidence” are real boosts for me.
I’ve been struggling with my own confidence when it comes to my writing stories, almost as if I’m afraid to let my creativity just run and I’m keeping it on a leash for fear of I know not what. I feel like I can’t let myself go and just write, because I have to have it all figured out in my head first, and when that doesn’t happen, frustration and discouragement ensue.
I really want to conquer this fear of just going for it, and not be afraid of unleashing the creative fire within.
I love the term “word-weaving”. That is awesome. I have a feeling you have tons more phrases like this that you’re holding back. I also have a feeling that this is your gift. You are not to hide your light under a bushel. You must let it shine.
Words are not only meant to be spoken, but also written. The purpose of the written word is for others to read it and be blessed by it. You surely do not want to be guilty of withholding blessings from others, do you? :-)
You cannot wait to leave the house until all the lights are green. You know you have to move forward. I’m not sure what the purpose or goal of your writing is. But you need to decide what that is now.
Have you read No Brand Is an Island? Chapter 5 is titled, The Silly Way to Instantly Make Tough Decisions. I promise it is worth the price of the book. That one exercise – and there is a downloadable piece with it—will be invaluable to you for the rest of your life.
It has never failed to work for my team and me. We constantly use it for major business decisions. I even used it this morning with Andy Andrews. I believe it will help you to move forward.
Roadblock #4: How Hard Should You Push Someone?
From the Email:
I am a business builder with a national brand and I love the company and the products. Where I get blurred is when my mentality turns from helping someone to pushing someone. I know no one is motivated by pushing, but when I see someone without hope due to being unhealthy or in a bad financial position then I feel like I know what is best for them.
It sounds to me like you’re trying to push string. And you know how far that will get you. Or you’re trying to herd cats. Can’t do it. Can’t be done.
Did you read Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, Necessary Endings? Chapter 7 would be of interest to you right now. That’s the chapter that talks about wise people, foolish people, and evil people. More often than not people are where they are because of foolish decisions they have made.
The wise part of you should be looking for people who are looking. People who want to know. People who do want more money. People who are coachable. There are lots of them out there. But it is like you’re on an Easter Egg hunt. You have to find them.
For heaven’s sake do not give up on yourself or them. You have a goal. Keep that in mind. Do what you can on a daily basis. And live as if this were your last day. It will totally give you a new perspective.
Roadblock #5: Thinking You’re Too Stupid
From the Email:
This is a painful question. But my big road block is thinking I’m too stupid to try to be an entrepreneur. I’m doing good at battling it every day and I am hustling. Because if I don’t, I will start to really believe that lie. It screams at me all the time.
20,000 Days is by my side almost always. I carry it in my bag to work everyday. It helps me take action and that helps ward off that lie.
From the Response:
You said it! This is a lie.
God did not teach you to swim to let you drown. You have a gift to share with many others. I know you will not hide that light under a bushel.
I assure you, you are not too stupid to be an entrepreneur. The key to all of this is fulfilling and finding your passion . . . the one thing that you’re supposed to do while you’re on this earth. You know that your days are counting up. That they are limited. I want you to be inspired by that fact. :-)
Roadblock #6: Fearing Change
From the Email:
My biggest roadblock in life right now is the fear of Change. I have been a single mom now for 20+ years and due to job loss had to start all over. I have many decisions to make and because of many past failures with making the right choice, I am afraid to choose a path. So I would say fear is a huge motivator for me.
Plus, I often get excited in moving in a certain direction, tell everyone, and then fall flat on my face.
I’m not sure how to get past it.
There is nothing more filled with change than raising a family for two decades. I have a feeling you’re more used to change than you can imagine. You see change every semester and every summer. You have raised your children well. I know that you’re proud of them. I know that you will continue to be a strong mom for them.
I want you to learn to embrace change. You know it is going to come. Look forward to it like it’s Christmas. There are new and exciting things that will take place. Look back over your life and you will know that every great thing that’s ever happened to you was a result of change.
Roadblock #7: Dead-End Job and Lots of Debt
From the Email:
I am at a big old roadblock. I am at a dead end job that I am miserable at and trying to get a business up and running. I re-purpose furniture and other wonderful treasures that I find and I build farmhouse tables. I am single with way too much debt and a daughter going to start college (out of state) next year. Just really overwhelmed but I am trying to keep focusing on God’s abilities not mine.
From the Response:
When was the last time you congratulated yourself on raising a child to college age as a single mom? That’s a huge accomplishment. I know that she must be an outstanding person and I know that you’re proud of her. And maybe a little sad that she will be going away out-of-state to college.
I would love to see you write 10 things that you are very grateful for. Do it today before you go to sleep. No matter how tired you are. Be careful though—this may energize you. This one fact alone will give you a different perspective on where you are right now.
This exercise has been more helpful to me than anything else during desperate times.
What Would You Do?
Now please, tell me, what exactly would YOU do, or what have you already done, to push back any of these seven common obstacles? Leave a comment. Tell us a story. Give advice. Answer questions. Ask more questions!
Let’s make this a conversation that can benefit everyone. Ready? Go!