Who here doesn’t want to grow? Who doesn’t want to improve and make more of a difference with your business? 

It’s a silly question, right? Everyone wants to get better and scale their business, but not everyone does. In my decades as a leader and leadership coach, I’ve discovered one of the key differences is in how we handle resistance. 

With every change, every level and every growth goal we meet, there are things that will get in our way. Sometimes the resistance is internal, sometimes it’s external. If the resistance is too strong, the average person will cave and give up. Leaders know how to handle this in a way that encourages growth, personally and in business, and help their team step into their greatness. In my time working with leaders and overcoming my own resistance, I’ve discovered these four steps for breaking through and growing. 

No. 1: Identify internal resistance

The first step we should always make — no matter what our business model — is to take a good, honest look at ourselves. Whenever we grow or try something new, there’s a part of our unconscious mind pushing back. We don’t want to change or grow on some levels because it requires us to leave our status quo, and there are parts of our mind that are comfortable with the status quo.

But you’re not just anybody; you’re a leader. It’s your job, your responsibility and your privilege to make your business and team the best it can be. 

Take some time to do a personal inventory. Think about ways you consciously or unconsciously resist the plans or changes you’re implementing. Ask yourself these questions: 

  • Do I have a lack of commitment in this area?
  • Am I afraid of something?
  • What is it I’m afraid of?
  • Do I lack confidence?
  • Do I lack passion around this topic? and
  • What am I doing to myself to hold me back?

If we give ourselves some honest time to look at ourselves, we’ll be surprised at what we find — and that’s a good thing!

No. 2: What is the external resistance?

If the internal resistance takes some hunting to find, the external resistance is often right in your face. It’s easy to identify, but not so easy to get past. External pressures are what leaders often struggle against while their internal resistance erodes them from the inside. 

I don’t want that to happen for you, which is why I start with looking at ourselves internally before looking at the outside forces. Ask these questions to identify what’s resisting your greatness from the outside: 

  • Do you have the right people in the right roles?
  • Is your team stepping up to the challenge?
  • Is there a strategy you’re missing?
  • What are you missing?
  • Do you have enough (or too much) in your budget for this improvement?
  • Is there a training gap somewhere? and
  • Do you have the physical resources to succeed?

Write these things down as you think of them. Don’t try to solve them (yet); just let it come without judgment. 

No. 3: Schedule a self-strategy session

Armed with your list of internal and external resistance items, it’s time to start tackling the solutions. Go into your calendar and schedule a time for self-strategy or whatever you’d prefer to call it. The goal here is to actually set aside time to work on these problems. Don’t just say to yourself: “I’ll get there when I have time tonight.” 

I want you to put it on your phone, your business calendar and let others know you’ll be working on this. I have time, almost daily, in my schedule for self-strategy, and figuring out how to break through resistance is one of the items I tackle during this time. 

Err on the side of consistent, shorter times over one longer time period. A half-hour of self-strategy per day is much better than a whole day once per month. This lets you stay on top of how well the steps are working, too. The amount of time isn’t as important, but stay with a half-hour at the minimum. And get something to write with and something to write on ready!

No. 4: Make an action item list

When you get to the strategy time, you need to make an action item list. Look at your internal and external resistances and write them down one by one. Now go through them and come with a plan or list of action items to address each of these issues. 

Let’s get some clarity: This isn’t a “to-do” list. This is a list of actionable items. These are things you can take or assign people to actively take on. Don’t just plan on getting to these tasks “when you have time.” Put a time limit and schedule on them. 

Organize the items by several factors, including: 

  • Who can take on the problem?
  • How much the issue impacts your business’s growth?
  • What resources are needed to fix the issue
  • When does the fix need to start on this issue? and
  • Why is fixing this problem important to our growth?

These aren’t items you’ll get to; these are items you will do. Be specific about what you need, what steps you’ll take and the timeline you need for this. 

If you need more folks on your service crew to branch out into another area, your goal shouldn’t be: “I need 10 more people on my crew.” It needs to be more specific and overarching: “By the end of the quarter, I need 10 more people on my crew. When hired, they’ll be ‘apprenticed’ to experienced team members for one week and go through so-and-so training.” You may also want to specify how you plan on attracting the best candidates. 

With your plan in place, communicate the plan to the appropriate team members and start. Act, reflect and repeat as resistance pops up, and you’ll continue to break through the barriers and into new levels of greatness. If this seems like a lot, it is, but no one said being a leader was easy. The rewards of watching you, your team and your business grow with each quarter and achieve their primary purpose are beyond valuable. It’s worth it!