Become a Leader by Overcoming Barriers

By Alan L. Olsen, CPA, MBA (tax)
Managing Partner
Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen and Co., LLP

It was May 5, 1954. Tension was high at the Oxford Iffley Road Track as Roger Bannister crossed the finish line. “3 minutes 59.4 seconds” Bannister had just broken the record for the four minute mile. In recalling the experience, Bannister stated, “There was a mystique, a belief that it couldn’t be done, but I think it was more of a psychological barrier than a physical barrier[1].”

How many of us place limitations on ourselves because of what people say? They may say we are not “qualified enough”, “smart enough” or maybe the task we want to accomplish is said to be “impossible”. If Bannister could put aside the doubts of others and break the record for the four minute mile, why can’t we put aside our “psychological barriers” and live up to our full potential? As you learn to overcome your doubts, your example of leadership can be one that many will follow.

We each have much to offer the world whether through developing a new technology, managing a successful company or, even more importantly, raising the next generation. As you begin your journey towards uncovering your full potential, you can start with the following steps.

1 – Set Goals – How are you going to get anywhere if you don’t know where you are going? In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat and Alice have the following conversation:

“Which road do I take?” [Alice] asked.
“Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire cat.
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter[2].”

If we don’t have goals in life, then it doesn’t really matter which road we take. A leader will set clear and consistent goals. Create a time frame for your goals (90 days, 1 year, 3 years) and accomplish them.

2 – Practice, Practice, Practice
– Once you have determined what you want to accomplish, do it. There is a good chance that this will take a lot of work and practice, but it will be worth it. Whenever, we determine to do something, we need to work towards that goal. Whether you want to run a marathon, start a company or be President of the United States, you will need to develop qualities to help you accomplish this goal. Set aside some time daily to “practice”.

3 – Be Accountable – Make sure to be accountable to yourself and others for what you have accomplished. If you accomplish your goal, set a new one to stretch yourself and grow. If you do not quite accomplish your goal, work on it some more until you master it.

If we can disregard the negative labels that others may give us and doubts that we may have about ourselves, we can accomplish great things.

[1] “Bannister’s Four-Minute Mile Named Greatest Athletic Achievment” 11.18.05