Some of the things that are holding us back the most are the things we’re holding onto the tightest.
When native tribes in Africa want to catch an ape, they drill a hole into a rock or tree – small enough for a monkey hand, but too big for a clenched monkey fist. Then, they fill it with peanuts. Once a monkey grabs the treat, it can’t get its hand out of the hole anymore. It panics, holding on to the very thing that keeps it trapped.
Often, we are that monkey.
We hold on to relationships, jobs, and behaviors that keep us stuck. We don’t realize that once we let go of the proverbial peanuts, we are free to find better things.
You have almost unlimited potential, but if you want to realize it, you have to let go of what doesn’t serve you. Unfortunately, these things are hard to see because you’ve held them for so long.
If you want to achieve your full potential, let go of these traps.
The Need To Fit In Keeps You Stuck
Our society isn’t that different from what it was a few thousand years ago.
Yes, we have smartphones, sports cars, houses with A/C, and deodorant to stop assaulting others with our armpits during hot summers. But above all, we have social structures – friends, family, and a boss to answer to.
Back in the day of Corey the Caveman, we had to fit in with the tribe. If we didn’t, the members would whack us over the head with a club and kick us out, which was an almost certain death sentence.
Today, we still have that need. We’re afraid of rejection, of raising eyebrows, and of attracting negative attention because we wear the wrong clothes. It’s what makes you try to fit in.
But if you always try to find ways to please others, you’ll end up losing yourself.
You’ll get stuck in a toxic relationship because you’re afraid of what others might think if you go to counseling. You won’t start your business because you’ll have to cut expenses and stop balling with the boys for a while. You hold your tongue and betray yourself instead of speaking your truth.
Listen – you don’t have to fit in anymore.
Disagreeing with someone won’t ruin your life. It’s normal to have conflict. It’s normal to not fit in with everybody.
You have so much potential inside of you, but you can only use it if you’re willing to disagree with others.
Your life isn’t theirs.
The Desire For An Easy Life Makes Yours Hard
You can only live an easy life if you choose a hard one.
Financial freedom, time with your family, and being fit and healthy require sacrifices. You’ll have to put in extra hours, wake up early, and sweat at the gym. That’s how life works.
Contrast that to what most people do and you’ll know why they struggle.
They buy the new iPhone, stay up late drinking beer, and inhale donuts like a vacuum cleaner an unfortunate pet hamster.
I’m not saying you can never do that. I buy cake every week. I party until the sun rises. In two months, I’ll buy myself a new iPhone. So what’s the difference?
I do it only once I’ve worked for it.
I’ve dedicated the last three years to growing a business and the last eleven to lifting weights. I’ve made life hard for myself so it could be easy in the long run.
“Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.” – Jerzy Gregorek
Once you’ve reached a comfortable position, you get used to it. You don’t want to put all the hard work in over and over. You want to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
I get it.
But this mindset keeps you stuck. Leveling up and reaching your full potential requires you to make sacrifices again, whether it’s at work, in your relationship, or at the dinner table. Don’t expect to move forward if you don’t fuel the engine.
When you get too comfortable and want life to be easy all the time, it becomes hard.
The Anchors And Dead Weights That Pull You Down
You can only rise as far as your chains are long.
When NASA shoots a rocket into space, they use boosters – temporary support rockets and tanks that fall off once they’re burned out. If they didn’t, the rocket wouldn’t reach its target speed and height. The same happens to you when you carry dead weight.
These burdens can take many different forms. For years, I’ve had a wardrobe full of clothes I didn’t wear but still had to dig through every time I looked for my favorite shirt. I’ve also entertained friendships and relationships that dragged me down like a leaky submarine its crew. Once I let go of them, I was free to rise higher.
“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” – Dan Peña
You don’t have to cut everyone off who isn’t on the same path as you. You can inspire others to embark on the same journey.
But if you want to reach your full potential, take a long, honest look at your life and the people within it. Who holds you back, who supports and propels you forward? Let go of the former, double down on the latter.
Your Ego Is The Single Biggest Obstacle You’ll Ever Face
The one thing that has held me back and sabotaged me most was my ego. I was cocky about my business, so it crashed. I thought I did everything right in my relationships, so they fell apart. I didn’t want to accept my mistakes, so I kept repeating them.
Your ego is the single biggest obstacle that holds you back from success – whatever that “success” looks like to you.
The problem is it’s wicked smart. It will cloud your judgment and twist your thoughts. And it’s all based on fear.
Fear of rejection stops you from trying. Fear of hurt stops you from opening up. Fear of being wrong stops you from seeing mistakes.
If you want to reach your full potential, you have to leave your ego behind – and with it, your fears.
- Be comfortable being wrong. It’s okay. We’re human. We all make mistakes. The important part is learning from them.
- Less talk, more action. Yes, you feel good when you boast about your accomplishments or grand plans. But if you want to make progress, that is wasted breath. Get to work instead.
- Stop telling yourself stories. “They don’t like me because I’m short.” “I deserve XYZ because I’m special.” Look at the facts and act with rationale.
- Choose to solve a problem over being right. Sometimes, you’ll have to forgive and let things go. If it solves the problem, that’s a small price to pay.
- Keep a beginner’s mindset. “No man can learn what he thinks he already knows,” Epictetus once wrote. No matter how far you came, you can always go further.
- Put your purpose above yourself. You will perish, but your legacy won’t.
Having an ego got you to where you are – letting go of it will get you further.
The Beliefs And Habits That No Longer Serve You
Building great habits is one of the best things you can do for yourself – but there is one inherent problem.
They can only get you to a certain level. Training three times a week, journaling every weekend, and reading ten pages a day are great. But if you want to go further, you have to adopt different behaviors.
Maybe your relationship demands more attention. Maybe your kids need more time. Maybe climbing the corporate ladder requires you to learn another skill.
This is often hard to see because our current behaviors already changed our lives for the better.
You have to recognize when a behavior serves you no longer – and this isn’t just about habits.
It’s also about your beliefs.
They are habitual thoughts. “I have to work more to make more. My kids are the most important thing to me. Hitting the gym is the best sport.” These were all true in the past, but are they still?
What if the key to making more money isn’t more work, but finding someone who pays you better? What if you need another purpose now that your kids are grown? What if heavy lifts at the gym hurts your joints?
Examine what you believe to be true. Shake up your thoughts. Ask the tough questions.
If you want to get further, sometimes you have to let go of what got you so far.
How To Achieve Your Full Potential as a Man
Letting go is often harder than holding on.
We keep ourselves trapped because we’re so used to it. Like a monkey with a fist full of peanuts, we don’t realize there are many more fruits and freedoms out there. All we have to do is let go of what keeps us stuck.
- The need to fit in and be liked. Don’t be afraid of rejection if what you do makes you happy.
- The dream of an easy life. Choose a hard one and eventually, it will become easy.
- Anchors and deadweights. Things and people can either hold you back or move forward, so choose wisely.
- Your ego. Nothing holds you back more than the enemy who lives inside your head.
- Old habits and beliefs. Just because something got you where you are doesn’t mean it will get you further.
You have much more potential than you think – stop holding yourself back.