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I work with clients who depend on referrals to keep their businesses going at a slow roar.  These realtors, financial planners, and insurance agents are always in demand and busy … for their business to grow, they require a pipeline of new clients.

Keeping current clients engaged and attracting new clients requires work.  Work that may involve networking, cold calling, and check-ins.  It may include new programs, strategies, and offerings.  Items that need to be created, researched, and tested.

Clients know exactly what they need to do, yet don’t put their butts in the chair and do the work.  Sure … we all find ourselves fighting procrastination.  But is that what’s really going on?  Why do we consistently not do the work that we know will bring us the most benefit?  What’s really going on?

We Fear Rejection:  Whenever we create something, we are putting ourselves out there.  This can be as simple as an executive writing an important email.  If that executive points out a concern that could suspend a project, then their opinion will be questioned.  Being under a spotlight to defend our expertise can be uncomfortable.  That fear increases when we create art or allow ourselves to be vulnerable.  What if that executive’s opinion proves unsupported?  What if no one champions the artist’s work?  That fear of rejection can become disabling.

We Fear Success:  The first time I was introduced to the “fear of success,” I couldn’t see the reality of it.  I now see it as a very common roadblock for highly capable people.  What if this works?  Who am I to get everything I desire?  What will people say?  Every great leader has a story of struggle.  The hero’s journey.  If our success comes too easily, we think we aren’t deserving.  Or we might be fighting a mindset of success can’t last.  Getting caught in why it can’t work and why we’re undeserving will contribute to a fear of success.

Fear of Responsibility:  Most people will take on responsibility when it coincides with doing something they love.  The fear is that the additional business will create more phone calls, emails, texts, deadlines, and well … more work.  Is it the extra work we fear or the expectations that we perceive?  Our clients won’t understand if we don’t call them back immediately.  I won’t be able to go to the gym, coach little league, or have a minute for myself.  The fear of the additional responsibility ties closely to the fear of success.  The new business might allow us to hire an assistant and create more space for ourselves.  The reduced workload with the assistant, could create space to add even more clients if we desire.  That fear of responsibility can block us from bigger success.

Miscalculating Time:  I’m an advocate for knowing how long everything takes.  We over-estimate and under-estimate time to a fault.  We think errands will happen in a flash.  We think our social media marketing planning will take 6 hours.  We tell ourselves that we will run the 20-minute errand first and then devote the rest of the afternoon to marketing.  Only the errand takes 3 hours and by the time we’re home … we are exhausted and need a minute to sit and re-charge for 10 minutes.  10 minutes becomes 45 minutes and … well … we might as well start dinner.  We can do the marketing after dinner.  After dinner … we feel full and grab the laptop … head to the couch to work and before you know it … we’re napping.  When we finally get to that marketing plan 2 weeks later, it takes less than 2 hours.  Being unrealistic about how long everything takes is a surefire way to ensure not getting to what matters.

We Love Gold Stars:  This is a concept I first heard from author, Gretchen Rubin.  In her book, The Happiness Project, she talks about our need for gold stars.  When we have a To Do List and can cross items off the list, we mentally get a gold star, just like when we were in elementary school.  The desire for instant gratification and praise can keep us from the bigger project that delivers results long-term.  We make trade-offs doing the little mundane tasks that keep us from doing what matters most.