What’s Holding You Back from Breaking Through that Barrier?

What’s Holding You Back from Breaking Through that Barrier?
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read

What’s holding you back from a breakthrough?  From leaping forward over a barrier to your vision, goal, or reaching that target you have been sitting on for too long?

Recently, I was with a group of leaders discussing what we were gearing up for in 2024. Each person shared a goal, or aspiration of something new they wanted to tackle.  But one leader’s response caught my attention. 

He said, “This year I want to finish this project I’ve been working on.” 

When he said that, I knew he was unprepared for breakthrough.


Because he had been working on this “project” for four years. A project that could be done in two weeks. Or even better, one he could have paid someone to have done in a few days.

But here we were, years later, still sitting here with his unfinished business.  I’d bet the house that a year from now, this “project” would be his 2025 goal as well.  It was a barrier he couldn’t hurdle.

Because he wasn’t ready for breakthrough.

Sound harsh? I’ve been in the same boat he was in.

Years ago I took a sabbatical, an incredible time of refreshment and redirection for my life. In preparing for it, I discovered the dearth of resources out there to help leaders design and take a restorative sabbatical. 

I decided to write a sabbatical book to serve leaders and organizations to leverage the most out of a sabbatical.  That was my “project.”  

A year went by.

Another year went by.

And a third year passed with the project sitting on the shelf.

What was the problem? What was holding me back from breakthrough?

The answer is found in a French proverb by the writer Voltaire:

Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.--Voltaire

“The best is the enemy of the good.”

The “best” in my case was a fully written, 250 page published book, filled with research and testimonials.  An end-all-be-all tome of knowledge that would cover every aspect of a sabbatical.

And that best version of my project was keeping me from moving forward, from breaking through with a resource that did what I was hoping for..

For years, I’ve told teams that, “I love the 80% idea that we’re going to ACTUALLY do much more than the 100% idea that we will NEVER do.  And yet I was a victim of that philosophy .

How did I break through this barrier?

I Took Two Steps of Action:

1. I Redefined the Win.

What was I REALLY trying to do? Have my name on a cover?  Be known as a “published author?”  Create a book that would generate passive income?

No, my win was to get a practical, digestible, easily-followed guide for leaders to navigate a sabbatical–what I wished I had when I took my sabbatical.

That shifted the project from an "end-all-be-all" to an "all-you-really-need-to-know."  From a book to a resource that I knew would be read and used.

2.  I Created Urgency.  

There was no external urgency to be writing this book.  No one was clamoring for this from me.  There were no deadlines, agents pestering me, or editors demanding a copy.  If I never wrote one word, no one would care.

So I raised the urgency stakes.  I carved out a day on my calendar, creating the pressure of time.  I rented an office space for eight hours, creating the pressure of money.  I hired a designer and editor, creating the pressure of expectation.  This fueled me to glue myself to the chair until I poured eight hours of work into a first draft.

These two steps gave me the lift I needed to break through the barrier.  Within a month I had the resource completed, available on my website for free (Scroll to the bottom of the page to get your free copy HERE).

My breakthrough was creating the 80% done version that’s actually being used by leaders across the country today rather than the 100% idea version still yet to be created.

That’s the barrier I needed breaking through.

What is a barrier to a vision, goal, or target YOU have been sitting on for awhile?

  • Is the idealized 100% best preventing you from the 80% good?
  • Is the lack of external urgency lowering the passion to complete the project?

What would it look like for you to reconsider the win of that project in terms of the 80%--what you ACTUALLY need it to accomplish?

How could you create urgency around this project to fuel you to get it done?

Heck, what would it look like for YOU to carve out eight hours and get as much work done on it as you could and just see where you are?

Let me challenge you: Take that project that’s been sitting on the shelf. Carve out time, space, and focus and give it a good hard crank. Take your best shot. 

At the end of this time, you may realize this is a project that needs to be shelved permanently and you can move forward. Or you may find that you have something that’s a lot closer to being ready to be used. 

Either way, you’ve broken through the barrier of the best being the enemy of the good 

I help Point Leaders navigate what’s next.  If I can serve you in this, reach out to me HERE.

Photo by Rafael Pol on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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