You’ve no doubt witnessed a fly beating its head against a window trying desperately to get to freedom. It’s a life-or-death struggle, a futile attempt to fly through the glass, but all the time it is using up the last energies of its short life.  If you listen to the sound of its wings hitting the window, you can tell that in his mind he’s thinking “I must try harder.” But it’s just not working.  No matter how much frenzied effort he expends flying into the window the fly still has no hope for freedom.  The real problem is that the fly’s struggle is part of the trap.  It’s absolutely impossible for the fly to try hard enough that he will actually succeed in breaking through the glass.  But still he is willing to stake his life on reaching his goal using effort and determination alone.

You and I both know that the fly is doomed to die, even though about three feet away is an open door.  With just a few seconds of flying time in the right direction, it could be free from its self-imposed trap…and with only a fraction of the effort.  The possibility is certainly there and it would be so easy if the fly could just see it.

You have to wonder why the fly doesn’t take another approach.  How did he get so locked in to this particular approach?  He is sure that determined effort offers the most promise of success.  Yet he continues to beat his head against the glass until he dies.  Without a doubt this approach makes sense to the fly – otherwise he would stop!

The point is that trying harder is not the solution to achieving more. In fact, more often that not it’s part of the problem, not the solution. They say that “practice makes perfect” but that may not be altogether true especially if you are trying harder practicing the wrong thing. If you rely on trying harder to accomplish all your hopes and dreams, you will surely end up with more of the same…more struggle! To get a different result, you must do something differently.

How would you rate your performance up until now?  Do you feel that you are expending a lot of effort for the results you’re producing?  Do you feel you have to struggle for what you achieve?

Up until now you’ve probably simply used your intuition to measure your performance. Unfortunately, this “gut feel” measurement is too ill defined to be of any real value, because there’s no way to pinpoint which aspects of your performance need improvement.  Or maybe you take a different approach.  You compare yourself to someone else as a measure of your own success. This approach can be frustrating and will lead you nowhere. There will always be those who achieve less or more than you with less or more talent.

Think about this: it is impossible to know what you don’t know, and it is impossible to make improvements, until you know what needs to change.  For example, you may know that your attitude stinks, but you don’t know exactly how to change it. You may realize that you have a long list of unfulfilled dreams and you hate your job, but do you know how that came to be, or how to make the necessary changes to correct your circumstances?  Is it lack of focus on priorities, lack of people skills, or an inability to make clear cut plans that support your goals?  When you can’t identify specific aspects of your performance that needs changing, nothing changes.

The problem is that people most often go with the obvious.  We rely on the same thinking, habits and behaviors we’ve used to get where we are now.  We do this because we are attached to our old ways.  Productive or not, our old ways are what we know.  We are comfortable with them and we are not very willing to make a change. In fact, most of us are like the fly on the window, trying harder and harder, doing more of the same and getting nowhere fast.  We resist new approaches because they make us feel more at risk…more uncomfortable.

But if you want rich rewards, rapidly, you must vigorously search out and implement new attitudes and behaviors.  You must be willing to break free of old routines to find a better approach.

What I’m saying is that your most dependable behaviors, like working hard, can become your greatest obstacles for future success if you are not careful.  They will become personal boundary lines that limit what you accomplish. Your struggle, your working harder and achieving less comes from being unfocused, not knowing what you are really working toward.

Achieving great things does not happen if you are not clear and passionate about what you want.  Passion is a very important part of the process.  It lifts your spirit and energizes your heart and mind to move forward, faster, into a higher level of performance. Passion doesn’t allow for struggle, only temporary set backs. Passion provides the fuel to keep moving forward when you hit obstacles or when you face uncertainty.

Your passion is fueled through the vision of what you want in your life. You must have an emotional intensity within you that burns hot enough to protect you when you meet set backs, criticism and other obstacles that interfere with your dream.  And only deep passion for what you want can generate the internal heat needed to stay on target no matter what happens.  Of course for you to have such burning passion there must be something worth caring about…something inspiring enough to light the fire in your heart.

This means that you have to let go of the limits you have set on your thinking. You have to decide what you are worth.  Feed the feelings that fuel your passion and give yourself permission to go after what you want most. Give yourself permission to be successful. The time will be right for you to accomplish something great only when you are passionately drawn to it.  So let your deepest desires direct you.  Set your sites high enough so that you challenge yourself to live fully.   Otherwise, a part of you remains asleep and your talents remain hidden and you remain in a constant state of struggle.

The second part is self-observation. Once you know feel passion that fuels you, become observant of your actions. Are your actions moving you toward what you want or away from it? If you let your fears direct your business or your life instead of your passion you will always end up with more of the same.

Set your course. What do you want to accomplish? Why do you do what you do? How do you want your life to be? If you could live your life on your own terms…and you can, what would that look like to you? Make sure that you have a burning desire, an internal heat hot enough to move you past just wishful thinking.  Let your dream consume you and drive you to action.  Remember accomplishing your dream will come through an act of loving it, through your passion and how much you care about what you seek.  Only your emotions hold the power to allow you to go the distance. Let your mind direct your actions and let your passion take charge of your move forward!


  1. Jim, thank you for your wisdom. Following your advice for several years now. You are inspiring.
    “You must have an emotional intensity within you”!!
    Thank you and keep up your good work

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