Clearing Our Own Mental Hurdles


“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible””.

Audrey Hepburn. 


What happens if you’re taking on a daunting challenge and you get stuck? What do you do when you have no clue how you’re going to do it? How can we get over these mental hurdles?

When most people embark upon epic challenges, I suspect they have no clue about how to achieve it. Let’s be honest, if you’re taking on a challenge that no-one else has attempted there is no blue-print.  I took on a rather ridiculous challenge recently. As I began explaining my challenge to the people around me, they would ask “how on Earth are you going to do that?” The only honest answer is, “I have no idea”. When world class performers start out, they often have very few answers. What they do have, is a head full of questions! These questions are the start point. They will help us to find the answers. However, the questions alone may not be enough. There is another, rather magical ingredient that gives real power to the process. It is the catalyst, the primer, the ‘fairy dust’. What am I talking about?


When we are curious, we have an intrinsic desire to find the answers. We actively search for solutions. Have you ever seen children who are powered by curiosity? They take on a terrier-like tenacity to explore and discover. If we have questions, but no curiosity, we’ll probably get no further than the questions. If our questions go unanswered for too long, we may end up concluding that we simply can’t proceed because we don’t know the answers.

Maybe we’ll never find the answers. Perhaps this challenge is impossible after all.

When we are curious, however, we keep searching until we find the solution.

Some people simply don’t accept the conventional barriers that most of us would. Student, Scott Young, decided he wanted an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) education but didn’t want to go through the acceptance boards, get into debt or take four years over it. His curiosity lead him to construct the entire four year computer science and business curriculum, plus the assessments himself (Young, 2012). 

Psychologist, George Lowenstein (1994) described curiosity as a passion, “with all the motivational intensity that is implied by the term”. Therefore, when we have that magical blend of questions and curiosity, we have a really good chance of finding some answers.

What are the big questions that you have at the moment? What do you need to know? How can you find the answers? Who could you ask? If they don’t know, do they know someone that might know?

When we get into the flow, the process takes on a life of its own. Every answer that we find normally has another question that accompanies it. It becomes an adventure, like following the yellow brick road in Alice in Wonderland. Importantly, following this kind of thought process gives us momentum. With momentum we’re no longer stuck.

Follow the yellow brick road!

Our own yellow brick road is simply the process of asking questions and then looking for the answers. 

Q. “I wonder how I could do it?”

A. “You could ask someone!”


Q. “Who might know?”

A. “They might know!”


Q. “If they don’t know, do they know someone who might?”.


Questions, answers, more questions, more answers.

Remember, following this kind of thought process gives us momentum and when we have momentum, we’re no longer stuck.


To help you take on your challenges, read Could I Do That?

The mindsets, approaches and techniques in Could I Do That? are exactly what helped me to win two Olympic Gold medals, and Simon has a great way of bringing these to life so anyone can take these principles and apply them in their world” Steve Williams, OBE, double Olympic gold medallist.



Hartley, S.R. (2014) Could I Do That?, Chichester: Capstone.

Lowenstein, G. (1994) ‘The Psychology of Curiosity: A Review and Reinterpretation’, Psychological Bulletin, 116(1), 75-88.

Young, S. (2012) ‘Can You Get An MIT Education for $2000?’, TED Talks. 19 June 2012.