3 Plateaus that Prevent Success


If we look carefully at the Elite of the world, those who are the top 4% in the world at what they do, you will invariably find these three plateaus.  The mountain climb of success in some fashion will have the following as part of the landscape.

  1. Fear of the unknown, Fear of loss
  2. Frustration, not fun
  3. Boredom, not fun

Have you been stuck on one of these plateaus?

Have you never started because it is an unknown?  You just have no idea where to start or where this will lead to?

Maybe you have gotten past the starting line and made some way up the mountain only to get stuck on the plateau of frustration.  A lack of knowledge, bad techniques or a feeling of limitation keeps you stuck?  you are working so hard but feel like you are at best marching in place?  how do you break the glass ceiling and continue to grow?

Maybe you are in the top 4%.  You worked and you are naturally talented but it bores you?  How do you sustain performance?

I once asked my Trainer and Coach Joe Burke, “What is the hardest problem to solve in the gym?”.  Consistency he responded without hesitation.  “Most gym members are beginners for life because of inconsistency.”, says Matt Smith, Human Performance Coach and Owner at Bodysmith Performance.

Consistency is the father of mastery and the mother of boredom.  The 3 plateaus are the candidates for the main contributors to sticking at any one of these plateaus along the journey.

Author Malcolm Gladwell says, in his book Outliers that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. I have had a similar thought over the years.  Many new dancers would ask me how long I have been dancing and I would respond, “you are asking me the wrong question, you should be asking me how many hours I dance each week?”  I do not know if ten thousand hours is the magic number but no matter your natural talent you must put in the time and you will meet the time bandits along the way.

I know that there are many things that can trip you up but here we are looking for the one thing that has the most impact to influence the outcome.  Marcus Buckingham, author of the one thing you need to know, defines this as the controlling insight.  The controlling insight has 3 features, 1. Multiplying effect that has X10 influence for excellence, 2. Applies to wide range of cases 3. Guides Action.


Fear is fixed by knowledge, read a book, go to a Course, be an apprentice, get a mentor

Frustration is fixed by a Coach, get custom help to your situation.  Pay for excellent advice.

Boredom is fixed by a failure, find variance, find competition, get your butt kicked as the world is not standing still while you get comfortable.  Also you have to understand your values and your mission.  You have to understand your logical and emotional make up and know how to coax and integrate both to stay both charged and regulated.


Going it alone.  no matter your talent or how smart you are, you cannot do it alone

Impatience, it takes time to improve, do not kid yourself and surely do not beat yourself up. In physical intelligence, you have to crawl then walk then run.  In term of IQ, you have to speak then read then write, and emotionally you have to know yourself then know others then know the context of you and others.  It takes time to master each rung of the ladder.

Diving into projects without guidance, practice without knowledge only makes bad habits.  A good coach can evaluate your emotional or logical strengths and tailor the approach to best put you in the zone for performance.

Let us remember the words of Ray Kroc, who put this on the walls of his McDonald stores

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common that unsuccessful individuals with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Stephen Choo Quan

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