12 Most Powerful Ways to Break Through Barriers and Live A Fuller Life

12 Most Powerful Ways to Break Through Barriers and Live A Fuller Life

I recently gave a presentation at Intel Headquarters to a group of their international fraud investigators. The topic was how to break through barriers to live a fuller life. I encouraged the group to find deeper meaning in their struggles, and more importantly, to stop depriving their children of the opportunity to break through their own barriers. One of the young men in the audience was clearly surprised by the suggestion that parents should stop trying to help their children break through barriers in life.

Parents think they’re doing the right thing by trying to give their children every advantage. In our country, barriers are synonymous with failure and shame. Barriers are things to be avoided so we can keep moving toward our goal. Contrary to how we think about obstacles and barriers, they are not the problem — it is the way in which we respond to them that holds us back.

The way in which we look at barriers is as important to living a full life as how we pursue meaningful activities and build healthy relationships. No matter our age, our mental toughness is created by our ability to cope with the challenges of life.

Here is how to break through barriers to live a fuller life:

1. Stop making excuses

We use barriers as an escape clause for dealing with pain and discomfort. Sometimes it’s easier to use an obstacle as an excuse for not moving forward because we fear failure or embarrassment if we don’t succeed. Our greatest achievements will be realized when we’re completely exhausted and discouraged but keep working through our challenge. When it’s all said and done, it really doesn’t matter if we try several times and fail many times — we eventually learn how to succeed. It does matter, however, if we try and fail, and never try again.

2. Acknowledge self-limiting beliefs

Barriers mean we are acknowledging limitations, but more often than not, barriers are those things in life we come across that are simply self-limiting beliefs about what we can or cannot do. When this happens, we disengage to protect ourselves. We pretend that it doesn’t matter if we let a barrier stand in our way to living a fuller life. We maintain the illusion that the walls surrounding us are not really keeping us imprisoned or in a rut. Remember, the only difference between a coffin and a rut are the dimensions.

3. Develop a strong mind

The key to finding a way through barriers in your life comes from excavating the significance of your own stories and finding strength in them. If you’ve done it in the past, you can do it again. And each time, you get smarter about it. Strong minds use the same strengths that made them successful in the past to get them through tough times in the future.

4. Create the will to move forward

Barriers provide strong minds with a burning desire to fight back. How you handle your fears will ultimately determine where you go and what you do with your life. It is your choice to live fully or be incapacitated by the fear of the challenges and barriers that are inevitable if you plan to move forward. A desire to fight back keeps you in control. The key is to acknowledge your fear by confronting it face to face. This tactic robs fear of its power.

5. Claim your strengths

Narrow your focus on discovering your strengths and continue to develop them. Your weaknesses are to be acknowledged and managed, but not changed. Instead of focusing on what was left out, concentrate on what was left in — those are your strengths. You learn nothing about success by studying about failure. You learn nothing about your strengths by studying your weaknesses. Look for your strengths and try to capitalize on them and do not waste time trying to develop your weaknesses.

6. Provide triumph in achievement

Without obstacles, there is no greatness in your achievement. Barriers provide the struggle that makes the triumph worthwhile. Successful people know that the difference between “try” and “triumph” is a little “umph.”

7. Grow stronger

Every aspect of physical and emotional growth arrives outside of your comfort zone. Have the courage to move forward if the risks feel right. Stretch yourself even if it means feeling uncomfortable. Barriers are things to push against to grow stronger. If you’re not a little bit uncomfortable on a daily basis it means you’re not growing. If you’re not a little bit scared everyday, you’re not learning. And when you’re not learning, you’re done.

8. Draw out strengths and qualities

When you invest in yourself, you can never lose, and over time you will change the trajectory of your life. Barriers draw out strength and qualities that would lay dormant otherwise. As a result, you become the product of your experience, knowledge, and wisdom. The more time, energy, and money you spend acquiring pertinent information about your strengths and qualities, the more control you have over your life.

9. Embrace life

Sometimes things must change so you can change. Sometimes you must break a little so you can peek inside to see the power of your own life and story. Sometimes mistakes must be made so wisdom can be earned. Sometimes rejecting barriers and obstacles is to reject life itself.

10. Define your character

Character development happens every day — usually when we’re not paying attention to reactions that are created by barriers, obstacles, and problems that occur in our life. As a result, much of our character is formed and developed without our awareness. By breaking through barriers with intention, we take more control of how our character develops and not let it be guided as much by our environment and the people around us.

11. Develop a positive attitude

The biggest factor in determining whether or not you will succeed is your attitude. The real winners in life cultivate optimism. People who maintain a positive attitude see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially when breaking through barriers that threaten to keep their world small. The only difference between an obstacle and an opportunity is our attitude toward it — every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity.

12. Build confidence

Many people never break through barriers to live a fuller life because they lack the confidence to do so. Lack of confidence holds many people back, simply because they don’t think they’re ready. The truth is that nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Opportunities and barriers are two sides of the same coin: they force us to stretch ourselves and our comfort zones, which means we may not always feel confident at first. Confidence is the difference between feeling unstoppable and being too scared to move forward. The more confidence you have in yourself, the more likely you’ll succeed.

If you expect life to be easy, challenges will seem difficult. If you accept that challenges may occur, life will be easier.


Featured image courtesy of holia licensed via Creative Commons.

LaRae Quy


LaRae Quy was an undercover and counterintelligence FBI agent for 25 years. She exposed foreign spies and recruited them to work for the U.S. Government. As an FBI agent, she believed that most barriers to success are internal. She writes and speaks about surviving in an environment of risk, uncertainty, and deception on her blog, Empower The Leader in You. LaRae is the author of "“Secrets of A Strong Mind.”

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Great piece Larae. I was totally move by this post. I realize it's really US that sets the limit for ourselves when the whole world lays there, offering every inch of opportunity. Learning shouldn't stop when you have found a high-paying job rather you should seek more. We shouldn't just stick to what we know because knowledge doesn't set boundaries. Thanks for this post Larae. I love it so much that I share it on twitter. :)


If only we could redefine "failure" as "practicing for success." In fact, if you aren't failing on a regular basis, you probably aren't doing much! (It only took me 40 years to figure that one out.) 

The 'excuses' point was the biggest one for me. Instead of dusting myself off and getting back at it, I used to spend way too much time making excuses about why I wasn't successful at something instead of doing the analysis to find out how I could improve on my next attempt. 

This is a great reminder...and what a cool bio you have! Since I long to be Jason Bourne, I'm going to file this under "spy training for business." :)


I was reading "Switch" by the Heath Brothers last night. They were discussing the flexible mindset. You develop your brain like a muscle so when you first try something you are going to fail but with work and practice - it gets better. You improve. I thought that message was a perfect compliment to your post!