The One Thing Guaranteed to Prevent Your Success (If You Let It)

This is a guest post by Josh Hood, the founder of 20/20 Vision Ministries, an organization designed to help people see life more clearly by helping them understand who they are, where they want to go, and how to get there. He is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and average golfer. You can read his blog, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

What separates successful leaders from average ones? What is the secret behind the accomplishments of high achievers? While there are many things that can contribute to success, there is one thing that is sure to prevent it every single time. What is it? The absence of trying.

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Sound overly simplistic? It may seem that way, but there is pure genius in this principle that is so obvious, yet often overlooked.

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Every successful author, leader, inventor, and artist have at least one thing in common: they tried. They attempted something.

The great hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” His point was that nothing great ever happens without effort. No author has accidentally written and published a great book. No artist has accidentally painted a masterpiece. It took effort. It took trying.

So what prevents us from trying and accomplishing great things?

  1. Lack of confidence. Fear of failure paralyzes us. If you’re going to be a great leader, and if you’re going to accomplish anything in life, you have to be willing to fail along the way. (John Maxwell wrote a great book on this subject called Failing Forward.) Every technique, venture, process, or idea you try is not going to work. The key is to learn from the ones that don’t, and constantly improve.
  2. Lack of inspiration. Weed “inspiration-killers” out of your life. Detach yourself as much as possible from the things that discourage and drain you. From where do your best ideas come? When do they come? What inspires you? Identify the things that bolster your faith and make you want to attempt great things, and then incorporate them into your weekly routine. I set aside specific times of prayer and Bible reading because those activities inspire me to attempt great things for God.
  3. Lack of energy. Even if you have the greatest ideas in the world, you need the energy to make them happen. What actions, habits, and environments give you energy? The larger amounts of physical, emotional, and spiritual energy you have, the greater your chances of success.
  4. Lack of persistence. Even with confidence, inspiration, and energy, you still need persistence to become successful. Don’t give up on your dreams. Just because something didn’t go as planned the first time doesn’t always mean it should be abandoned. As the old adage suggests: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Adapt, analyze, evaluate and keep trying. Thomas Edison understood the value of persistence. He is reported to have tried over 1,000 different elements before he found the one that made the light bulb work.

If you look back over your life, you will discover every great accomplishment was the result of trying something. Great lives are the result of great attempts.

Question: What would you try if you knew you couldn’t fail? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Jeff Goins

    The worst that could happen is that I fail, right?

    • Josh Hood

      The very nature of fear is such that it swells in our minds to the point of extreme exaggeration. It becomes bigger and bigger until our fears aren’t even based in reality. The worse that can happen is that we ‘fail’ and use it as a learning experience. That’s not always such a bad thing. Our failures usually teach us far more than our successes.

  • Pam Steien

    What a great question? I would ask for my job back at Thomas Nelson. One of the biggest regrets of my life – I am so sorry that my career with a great company ended the way that it did. I loved being Field Sales Manager encouraging a bunch of great sales guys/gal and calling on wonderful folks in the Christian Bookstore world. It was a great 12 years and just wish that it could have been much longer.

  • Jennifer Woodward

    Nice post! My fear is not of failure but of success – and then managing said potential success. A concept and realization I need to put more time and thought into…

    • Josh Hood

      Success is a great test of character.
      I think the important thing is to realize we only have to deal with TODAY. We often waste energy and resources trying to fix the past after it’s too late, or deal with the future before it’s possible.

      • Jennifer Woodward

        “We often waste energy and resourses…dealing with the future before it’s possible” – an excellent quote and concept!

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  • Alejandra M. Howard

    This was a useful post and I think it is rather Oakley Sunglasses easy to see from the other comments as well that this post is well written and useful.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Josh, thanks for this post. :) I’ve been wanting to write a book for the past three years. But until about four months ago, I did nothing but dream. It’s because of the reasons you stated in your posts. But thankfully, I persisted and now I’m in the final chapter of the book. In a month’s time, it’s gonna be done. :)

    • Josh Hood

      Awesome! Like you, I’ve discovered there’s always a ‘push-through’ factor. There is always something you have to push through to reach your goal. Michael mentioned this in a great post called “What Keeps You Going When You Want To Quit?” (
      I congratulate you on ‘pushing through’!

  • Dan

    These will prevent you from being successful. I think leaders need a lot of energy in order to get things done.

  • Cynthia Leighton

     I am! Hmm. Did not realize that. It *is* taking way longer than I’d wanted or expected. But then again there’s been a whole lot of bumps along the way. Life:)

  • Fpeiqin you for inspiring us to take the first step

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