Napoleon Hill said, “The ladder of success is never crowded at the top.”
This certainly is true, but why is it true? Let’s use Mr. Hill’s metaphor of the “ladder to success” to dissect the various occurrences that prevent a lot of people from reaching the top.
- Looked Down (Fear)
So you’re making your way up that ladder. You’re getting higher and higher, closer and closer. Then for some reason, you look down. Fear grips you and takes you back into your old reality. “What am I doing up here? This is dangerous / risky. What if I’m doing the wrong thing?” Then you slowly make your way back down to where it’s “safe.”
Fear of success is real — it holds a lot of people back from starting their own small businesses and pursuing other endeavors in life. Someone who is fearful of success doesn’t want to leave her comfort zone.
- Someone Yelled Up from the Ground (the Peanut Gallery)
We have all come in contact with one or more people who have tried to hold us back from progress in one way or another. They insult, discourage or distract us from completing our journey.
There’s that guy who always wants you to come out and drink, smoke and party (then you don’t want to do anything else). He’s down at the bottom of the ladder holding a cold one up to you. “Come on down buddy, relax, have a drink with me.”
That relative who keeps telling you that your “silly dreams” are useless and you should be doing something else. “What are you doing up there on that ladder? You could be over here digging a ditch instead. What’s wrong with you, you know you’re meant to stay here with both feet firmly on the ground!”
Then there’s that vindictive “friend” or family member who insults you and tries to pretend it’s just innocent fun. “You look so stupid up there on that ladder (laughs). And by the way, everyone can see up your dress!”
If you spend your life listening to the “peanut gallery” you will find it more and more difficult to ascend your own personal ladder of success.
- There’s a Snag along the Way
Another reason why some people don’t make it to the top of the ladder of success is that they catch a snag along the way. Something grabs hold of their pants on the ladder and they just stop cold in their tracks. They jerk and jerk their leg to get free and keep climbing, getting more and more frustrated with each tug.
It might be that the one idea you were counting on didn’t turn out the way you hoped or the bank said “no” to your small business loan. Maybe the product prototype you developed isn’t functioning properly.
A snag is merely a setback but unfortunately a lot of people take it as an indication that they’re not meant to go forward at all. So you sullenly descend the ladder and go back to “business as usual.” But what you don’t realize at the time is that all you really have to do is sit down on the ladder for a moment, take a rest, think things over, un-snag your pants and then get back to climbing with a better plan in mind.
- There’s an “Emergency” Down There
Another reason why someone might turn around and get off the ladder to success is when she learns that there’s an “emergency” going on back down on the ground that requires her to put the climb on hold.
What people often find is that the “emergency” didn’t really require their immediate attention, and now they have to start all over. Some people get stuck here, tired and weary from having to constantly put out fires, and give up on the climb altogether.
- They Miss an Opportunity
While you’re climbing, slowly and steadily, you might find that someone who’s up higher reaches down to offer you a hand. Maybe it’s unsolicited advice, a small loan, a partnership proposition or some other form of assistance. Some people let their egos get in the way of progress and refuse to accept the help they desperately need as they climb the ladder. “I can do it all by myself!”
It’s important to remember that no one reaches the top all by themselves — they need other people, whether it’s support from a customer or an investor.
- Not Satisfied With the Speed of Progress
Some people stop climbing the ladder of success because they aren’t happy with how fast things are progressing. They feel that they should be farther along, higher up — that they’re peddling on a stationary bike and going nowhere. But the truth is that some people find success rather quickly while it takes others more time to see the fruit of their efforts. Slow and steady often wins the race.
- Too Occupied with What Others on the Ladder Are Doing
Too often we are distracted by the progress of others who are trying to achieve success when trying to achieve our own goals. Either we’re enviously watching what the guy is doing a few rungs up on the ladder or spending too much time looking down at others who aren’t as high as we are to feed the ego. This distraction and lack of focus causes us to stumble and fall down a few rungs or off the ladder completely.
Focus on your own climb.
- The Ladder’s a Bit Rickety…
Another possibility is that the ladder you’re climbing is a bit unstable. Maybe it’s breaking, damaged or cracking. If it were to fall apart you would go down with it and become discouraged by this major time-wasting setback.
If you notice that the ladder’s rickety, that might be an indication that you’re just on the wrong one. Maybe there’s a better, more stable ladder out there that you can be climbing to find success.
- They Never Start Climbing in the First Place
A lot of people don’t make it to the top of that ladder of success because they never start climbing in the first place. They don’t ever even try. This is due to that other type of fear: the fear of failure.
People who never try are usually thinking “I could never climb that ladder because _____”… just fill in the blank (money, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not skilled enough).
Can You Relate to Any of These?
If you’ve tried to ascend the ladder of success in the past but never quite got there, which of these reasons do you think most accurately describes why?
Regardless of the reason, what’s most important is to know that all is not lost — that ladder to success is still there, and no matter what anyone says you can start again anytime you want. Take some time to reflect on these points before you restart your climb so that you can maintain your resoluteness and keep going uninterrupted this time.
Louise Gaillard is a prolific writer, marketing consultant and social media manager.
Starting up a small business, even if it’s just on the side, is no longer an option — it’s a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.