Those internal hurdles

They can trip you up the most

The road to achievement is often long and full of twists and turns. And it goes without saying that external circumstances can sometimes get in the way. But often, our greatest challenges stem from a place much closer to home. Just ask Howard Blake.

After being contracted to provide technical support for a Microsoft division in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1993, Blake decided to get additional training. “I wanted the skills that would push my career forward,” he says. But there was a significant roadblock in his path: he doubted his test-taking abilities. Although he studied hard, his lack of confidence led him to fail the certifying exam three times.

“Of the many hindrances we encounter in life, most are self-imposed,” says Pam Andrews, executive director of FamQuest Inc., a life skills and personal productivity training firm in Bear, Delaware. “Negative behavior and thought processes, such as pessimism, can doom us to failure before we even get started.”

Unwilling to give up, Blake sought guidance from Andrews and her husband, Darrell, co-owner of FamQuest. He learned how to visualize a positive outcome and erase his hesitancy. In 1996, three years after his initial attempt, Blake passed the exam and earned his certification in system engineering. He’s now an information center analyst, and is preparing to start his own computer business. “There will always be obstacles, but now I don’t create them.”

Here are three tips from Andrews to help you clear internal hurdles and get to your personal finish line:

  • Acknowledge that they do exist. “You can’t get around obstacles if you don’t see them,” asserts Andrews. Face the music and identify your problems; then do something about them.
  • Get mentally focused. Develop a tunnel vision that can’t be penetrated by negativity. “You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish when there’s nothing blocking your sight,” she says.
  • Take action. “It’s the only way to actually get over any hurdle,” maintains Andrews. You know what you want to accomplish. Now you can get out and make it happen.
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