How to Overcome the Biggest Potential Blockers of Achievement

How to Overcome the Biggest Potential Blockers of Achievement

Created: Thursday, January 21, 2021 posted by at 9:30 am

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By Seema Menon, Toastmasters International

We all want to achieve―in our businesses, in our careers, and in our personal lives. If you aren’t getting where you want to be you may find you’re being held back by one of the three major blockers to achievement: distraction; MISinterpretation; and MIScommunication.

How to Overcome the Biggest Potential Blockers of Achievement

How to Overcome the Biggest Potential Blockers of Achievement
Image: Pixabay

Let’s examine each of these. We’ll begin with distraction, or looking at it another way, attention.


This is the most important aspect of our consciousness. In the past, the capacity to focus was a given, but with the explosion of distractions around us from advertising to emails, from social media to news, giving attention to something has become a virtue.

Lack of accomplishment is not attention deficiency, but attention ambushed and misled to the more sensationalist and entertaining aspects; the attention candy of instant gratification. And as the mind gets used to being distracted so often and with such compelling content it looks to feed this need and takes us away from focusing on our goals.

How does one regain attention? Mindfulness is one way. It’s a type of meditation, a focus on being in the present and bringing full attention to the object. Mindfulness means calling attention to our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and movements. The aim is to be fully absorbed in the act of engaging, be it enjoying a walk in the park, sharing a chat with a friend, painting, having a cup of tea, or jogging. Mindfulness is about putting your attention towards that which is intended instead of being led by distraction.

Practicing mindfulness brings more awareness to one’s breath and we can use this to relax tense muscles or focus on a situation that requires attention. Breathing can also be used to help deal with pain, anger, or the stress of daily life.

By being mindful and putting our attention on the goal we want to achieve, we will remove distractions and will therefore be more likely to reach our target.


Sensory stimuli impinge upon the mind which then interprets this experience based on one’s conditioning. Whenever there is a stimulus, we interpret it, give it meaning, and behave accordingly.

Distress and trauma, for example, are not products of what has actually happened, but rather how we interpret it. Someone can lose a limb in an accident and say, “I lost my arm. My life is not worth living,” while another person can say “So what, I still have another arm, let me see what I can do with this life.”

A change in interpretation can alter your life dramatically. During the Covid-19 lockdown, you have a choice to be upset about the circumstances and feel depressed or you can make the most of this time to catch up on your hobbies, pick up a new skill, work on your physical and mental fitness, telephone friends for long chats. The choice is down to the individual.

Interpretation is therefore communication to the self. If our communication is positive, then we are more likely to be motivated to achieve, to be willing to try again when we fail. Both of which are important if you want to achieve something. Negative interpretation is a major blocker of success, so change the way you look at things – and you will be more likely to succeed.


While attention and interpretation are intricate aspects of the self, one of the aspects of what makes us human is the ability to communicate with each other. Communication has two aspects:

  1. Communication to the self (our own inner voice, our interpretation), and
  2. Communication with others.

Lack of good, clear, engaging communication is one of the blockers of achievement. So, it’s essential we learn good communication skills.

We have covered internal communication, now let’s look at external.

For example, when communicating with an audience, large or small, there are three key elements to master:

  1. Managing your state
  2. Connecting with your audience
  3. Creating change

1. Manage your internal state

You can use your breathing to help manage your emotional state. Breathe slow and deep to calm yourself. Once relaxed, speak normally, and pause to breathe if you feel your stress rising. Pausing is also important in order to add punctuation to your speech and give the audience a chance to digest and contemplate the contents.

2. Connect with the people you’re speaking to

Give your audience the information they need. If you are an expert in the subject, then demonstrate this through the information you share. Speak with confidence, but patronize (i.e. be confident, not arrogant).  Making eye contact is also important. And smile.

3. Effect change

Help your audience visualize the future. Help them see how things can be different. Help show them ‘how’ they can change. Many of us have desires but fail to act, so show them how to act, how to take the first step.  Help them feel strong and positive, so they can make a decision. People in a low state do not make decisions! The essence of a good external communicator is to effect a change in the audience, moving them to where you want them to be.

For any kind of achievement, it is important to learn how to remove distractions and focus your attention. If you can combine this with the ability to change your interpretation and also to communicate in an engaging and effective manner you will overcome the blockers to achievement.  May you find achievement and success in 2021.

Seema Menon

Seema Menon
Seema Menon DTM is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organization that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland.

Members follow a structured educational program to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit Toastmasters International. You can follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.

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