My Latest Book

Product Details

Also available on,, and other Amazons and bookshops worldwide! 

To Think About . . .
I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. J. K. Rowling
My Other Books

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details

Click to order other recommended books.

Find Us on Facebook Badge

Search This Site
Latest Comments
« Positive Thinking or What? | Main | In praise of doing nothing »

Take the Brakes Off!

There are all sorts of reasons why the thought of success is frightening. We may be afraid of being taken beyond our comfort zones or of getting out of our depth. We may expect the reward for our hard work in doing a difficult job will be even harder work at an even more difficult job. We may believe that to be successful will mean our friends and family will be jealous and won’t like us any more. And so on.

Of course some of these reasons are perfectly valid. If we are willing to face up to them and acknowledge them, then we are able to act appropriately.

The problem comes when we don’t face up to these reasons and fail to acknowledge them. Then they continue to affect us subconsciously and we wonder why we never seem to be able to live up to what we believe should be our real potential.

What often happens is that we are forging forward with the brakes still firmly on!

The more I explore the subjects of time management and personal organisation the more convinced I become that most of our problems in these fields are simply ways we have devised of braking our performance, of limiting ourselves.

Imagine that you are your Unconscious Mind and your mission is to invent ways of keeping your performance within safe limits. What sort of things would you come up with? Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Take on too many responsibilities
  • Avoid setting up efficient systems
  • Never discuss your workload with your boss
  • Make sure your attention is continually distracted throughout the day
  • Don’t delegate
  • Don’t follow up
  • Reduce your mental efficiency by not taking breaks
  • Reduce your mental efficiency by not taking exercise
  • Never do anything immediately.
  • Spend lots of time daydreaming but don’t take any action to turn your daydreams into reality.
  • Spend lots of time worrying but don’t take any action to address what you are worrying about
  • And, at all costs, avoid purposeful focused thinking like the plague.


Spend a bit of time having a look at the brakes you have constructed on your own success. There are probably quite a few of them. They may be in the list above or they may be completely different. Our unconscious minds are extremely inventive!

The good news is that once you have acknowledged that you are deliberately (though unconsciously) putting the brakes on, you can deliberately (and consciously) choose to take the brakes off. This is best done one brake at at time. Ask yourself “What is the biggest brake I am putting on my performance at the moment?” and go all out to take it off.

Reader Comments (2)

Great post Mark.

I believe it's our super-ego that's got the brakes full on. Our ego wants to push us out there; but the super-ego's job is to prevent us from doing anything that's risky. It wants to keep us firmly in our box and it has developed a lot of strategies for doing just that. You've listed a good number of them in your posting.

One of the best mechanisms I've found for tackling the super-ego is to watch for it at work. Once you begin to spot it kicking in with thought to keep you in your place it looses it's power and you can start to push the envelope.
May 23, 2007 at 21:59 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Hollingworth
Thanks for your comment, David. Greater awareness of what's going on inside one's head is almost almost beneficial - whatever names you give it!

May 24, 2007 at 15:39 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.