The Achilles Heels of Every Thought Leader

Can I tell you a secret?

I’ve worked with and talked to a lot of extremely successful, ambitious, and influential people over the years- visionary people who have done amazing things. There’s just one problem. Every one of them deals with their share of challenges like a lack of focus, crippling blind spots, self-doubt or fear at some level. Some of these are huge online and media personalities, best-selling authors and notable speakers. Yet they are not magically impervious to the demons of derailment.

It’s easy to look at the people we admire (or even get jealous of) and assume that they have their shiz together at all times. Here’s the secret…

They don’t.

Even the most visionary people flounder and struggle sometimes to find clarity and confidence about where they are going and how they will get there. They’ve been able to do amazing things because they’ve recognized their limitations as a visionary and created a support system that mitigates the fallout when the demons of derailment start raging. As one of my friends says (she has a 2M+ dollar business), “I’ve made my business me-proof.”

In fact, I’ve found that the more success a client has had, the more they actively seek my unfiltered feedback and perspective about their vision and how to realize it. The more success they’ve had, the more they know that there’s almost always a false assumption, arbitrary constraint or unhelpful belief that’s compromising their vision. And the more they understand that, the more they know that it’s really hard to identify the missing or misaligned elements by themselves.

The 3 Achilles Heels

In my 12+ years as a consultant, strategist, and teacher helping entrepreneurs get clarity and confidence about vision and strategy, I’ve noticed three “Achilles heels” that often compromise an entrepreneur’s vision:

1) The Most Important 5% is Neglected

We all have blind spots: beliefs and assumptions that cause us to overlook, discount, or ignore vital pieces of our vision. Yet these are the things that have the greatest power to fuel a body of work that stands out, gets noticed and makes an impact. Almost invariably we need outside reflection and insight to identify these things.

2) Focusing on the Future at the Expense of the Present

A vision is most commonly thought of as a picture of the future that you want to create. The conventional wisdom is that if this vision is compelling enough, it will get you through the hard work, unforeseen obstacles, and challenges. But when we become completely focused on the horizon, we tend to ignore the progress we’ve already made. The thing about a horizon is that it is forever locked on a course moving away from us. It seems we never “arrive” because before we even get there, we’ve moved the destination again- all in the name of vision.

Creative energy, motivation, and momentum are fueled by the present as much as they are by your excitement for the future. Neglecting to define what you need in the present is like trying to drive a car with only half the fuel, oil, pistons, and spark plugs in it.

3) The Vision is Driven by a Reaction to the Past

Entrepreneurship (or any pursuit of purpose and meaning) is fraught with the kind of stress and pain that leaves such an impression in our psyche that our future plans and decisions are motivated by a primal need to avoid experiencing that pain again at all costs.

Yet we don’t notice these motivations acting on us. Instead we form beliefs, draw conclusions, and find rationalizations that allow us to feel like we are moving ahead when in fact we are stuck in a reactionary pattern driven by echos of pain from the past. As is often the case, we require outside perspective and support to dislodge this dam and allow our unfettered vision to flow fully once again.

I share these three “Achilles heels” here as a tool for deriving awareness and reflection as you design and pursue the next evolution of your own vision. A clear and compelling vision is one of the three key elements (the 3 Vs) derived from within you. A clear and uncompromised vision is required for you to craft a world-class brand that supports your legacy and helps you make your unique impression on the world.

Let’s take action

Read the three “Achilles heels” again. Reflect on times when each has affected you. Consider which of the three may be affecting you now so you can make a plan to fortify and clarify your vision.

If you are comfortable sharing, I’d love for you to share with me how clear and confident you are about the vision you’ve defined for your business and your ability to make it happen (on a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the most clear and confident).

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