Who’s (or What’s) Your Enemy?

Darth Vader was intent on using his natural abilities to destroy humanity and lure good people to the “dark side.” Produce manufacturers are haunted not only by their direct competitors, but also by the giant salty snack conglomerates that are purveyors of instant gratification but lack nutritional value. Kids in troubled urban areas with failing schools often face the enemy of illiteracy.

On your path, you will inevitably encounter enemy forces. Sometimes, however, the real enemy is not who you think and not so easy to identify. It’s easy to assess blame to others, play the victim card, and throw our hands up in helpless despair. While tempting, it doesn’t get you off the hook for taking personal responsibility for the outcomes you seek. The biggest enemies we face may not be others, but internal enemies such as fear, impatience, greed, laziness, and distraction.

Having the privilege to regularly interact with some of the most successful people on the planet, I’ve noticed a fascinating pattern. The best of the best start by having a vivid image of what they’re looking to accomplish. They can describe it in Technicolor detail. From there, they identify all the enemies that could derail progress. The final step: a rock solid plan to overcome. Enemies generally fall into four categories:

1) People – The CEO of your big competitor. Your arch rival in sports. An abusive spouse. Who are the people who create the biggest roadblocks to your progress?

2) Organizations – Regulatory bodies that withhold approvals, competitive companies or teams, lobbying groups peddling legislation that could hamper your growth.

3) Internal Factors – These are the most common, and most difficult to identify and conquer. Your mindset on tenacity, learning, growth, courage, and commitment fall into this category.

4) Natural Forces – The 26.2 miles of road during your marathon attempt, the pollution you seek to eliminate, the cancer cells you’re driven to vaporize.

Once you’ve listed each enemy, craft a specific plan to beat them. Even if these enemy forces feel overwhelming, creative solutions can be uncovered to conquer nearly any opponent (think David vs. Goliath).

Don’t let your enemies lurk in the dark. Instead, bring them into the light by identifying and examining them. Use these negative forces to strengthen your resolve. Nothing makes you want to win more than knowing someone is waiting for you to fail; make it your mission to prove them wrong. Every small victory will build confidence and focus.

Know thy enemy. And conquer away.