THE BLOG
10/13/2014 02:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Deadliest Threat to Success

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Amanda Brewer, a New Jersey school teacher, took this terrifying picture of a great white shark. For most of us, the close-up view wouldn't be worth it. Why did Amanda do it? "I wasn't even a little bit frightened," she said. "When you're there and you're in their presence, it's not scary."

We all face things in our lives that are subtle and dangerous, and they're even more dangerous when we ignore or don't understand them. The deadliest threat to success for each of us is different, but it's there, lurking underneath the still waters of our daily lives. We can choose to fill ourselves with paralyzing fear, or to prepare ourselves so we're not afraid when it attacks. It takes respecting the reality of what we're up against so we're prepared to confront it. Any one of these may be the deadliest threats in your life:

Deadly Threat #1: Lack of Focus. This includes taking on projects without filtering for importance, and then trying to multi-task our way out of being overwhelmed. Instead it's about saying "no" before the inbox of life overloads. Warren Buffett suggests listing the top 25 things you want to do in the next few years, circling the top five and forgetting about the other 20. Buffett advises, "Everything you don't circle becomes your 'avoid at all cost list.' No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you've succeeded with your top five."

Solution: Get Clear on Key Goals

Deadly Threat #2: Anger. It hits us in moments when we least expect it, starting with stress, leading to frustration, then to a potential explosion. In a flash, anger can destroy relationships and ruin careers. Whenever it starts to circle under the waters of life, take a few minutes to get collected. Allow the negative emotions some space for a few minutes while pondering the next step, and then focus on a positive response. By meditating before we act, we become powerful.

Solution: Meditate in the Moment

Deadly Threat #3: The Status Quo. Most people go with the flow, don't like to rock the boat, and want to keep things as-is. And that's a problem. Life isn't about laying low, it's about being bold and having an impact. Like the Apple slogan says:

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Solution: Challenge Conventional Thinking

Deadly Threat #4: Apathy. This strikes us in stealth ways and stops us from doing big things. Instead, the key is to take action. My wife, Julia, is an example of this. Last Monday, Julia's niece Skyla was injured terribly in a car accident that tragically took the life of her friend Braden -- and their families have had a difficult time since then. Instead of sitting idly by and waiting for someone else to do something to help, Julia launched a fundraiser on crowdrise, got herself on the news and radio, and has raised over $13,000 for the families so far.

Solution: Take Action Now

Deadly Threat #5: Technology Addiction. Many people are so hooked to their devices they're losing out on key moments of life. Nothing can replace face-to-face listening, sharing, and collaboration. So, why should we let our devices woo us away from what we know we all need most? Put it away at night, keep it in your pocket or purse or glove box when you're driving, and bury it under folders or in your bag during meetings. Studies show that powerful people favor in-person relationships over cellphones.

Solution: Turn the Tech Off

Deadly Threat #6: Selfishness. This one creeps into our lives and before long, we're in it just for ourselves. And it slows us down, unless we shift instead to a selfless lifestyle, like Jason Kreis.Hired as the youngest coach in professional soccer history at age 34, Kreis preached to his players the power of selflessness. As coach of Real Salt Lake he didn't want rock stars like David Beckham. He wasn't interested in the player who'd light up the field only to bask in his own glory. No, Kreis wanted the opposite -- guys who loved the game and would give everything for the team to be successful. Kreis converted Real Salt Lake from a struggling franchise into a selfless force that overwhelmed opponents. In the 2009 MLS Cup, Real Salt Lake went head to head with Beckham and the Galaxy and beat them soundly.

Solution: Serve Others

Deadly Threat #7: Arrogance. Being the smartest guy in the room isn't what it used to be. While it once impressed, now it annoys. Google and Siri are the gurus of data, but nobody likes to hang out with them during social hours. Be open to new ideas, treating everyone with respect regardless of title, status, or wealth. Don't focus on being a know-it-all, instead focus on being a connect-it-all with the power of humility, kindness, and empathy for other people.

Solution: Keep Humbly Confident

Whatever the Deadliest Threat is for you, apply the solution now. Don't delay.

(Photo credit: Amanda Brewer)

Follow Chris on Twitter @CDeaver7