The Counterintuitive Success Strategy

Most everyone will disagree with this advice. Conventional wisdom and thus, conventional people, advise against this philosophy. But you’re a budding entrepreneur and you have already bucked the idea of a conventional life, so let’s learn this counterintuitive success strategy.

But First, a Story…

Once upon a time, there was a well-known Chinese general preparing for a battle. His troops were exhausted, ragtag and ill equipped. This day’s battle was particularly tough as the enemy held a position on top of a mountain.

If fighting uphill wasn’t bad enough, at the base of this mountain was a raging river. If you were to fall in, it would surely mean death.

On the morning of battle, the general positioned his troops in the most precarious of positions—at the base of the mountain with their backs to the river. The message was clear, the troops were fighting for their lives, there was no retreat. Win or die.

Though exhausted, the men had no choice but to fight. And sure enough, they won.

So how does this apply to business?

It Forces Action

If nothing else, when your back is against a raging river, you must move forward. You must take action, or perish.

Death in business is bankruptcy, and that’s the river you should consider putting behind you.

For newer entrepreneurs, the simplest way to do this is to quit your day job. Cut the cord and commit to your dream. Removing reliable income rips you from your comfort zone and makes you hungry again.

Your savings may be paltry, you might have a family to support or you might have to sell some of your more expensive toys, but don’t you think you will be motivated like never before?

Won’t you be even more passionate about making your dream work? Don’t you think people will pick up on your steely determination? That you won’t take no for an answer?

That is the winners edge, but it doesn’t come from being comfortable.

It Eliminates The Trivial

When you are in a do-or-die situation, the trivial falls away. Normal daily activities lose their importance as you must solely focus on mission critical actions to insure your survival. You’ll quickly learn to focus on the vital few instead of the trivial many.

Those social media posts are easy and popular, but do they generate revenue? How important is that coffee meeting really? How many times are you going to redesign your logo or your website before doing the hard work and cold calling prospective clients?

What really needs to be done becomes glaringly obvious if you are in danger of losing your house or your credit card cannot handle any more groceries.

Perhaps it’s the human instinct for survival, but when you are in a do-or-die situation, your focus will narrow in on the critical.


Countless business stories abound where someone was on the brink of personal and business disaster, only to come out ahead against all odds.

Conventional wisdom says these people are lucky, but luck isn’t a strategy. They know that when your back is against a raging river and the two options are fighting or death, the odds bend in your favor when you demand success.

You may not be a soldier, but entrepreneurship is an uphill battle. When your are faced with death or victory, you chose victory and give it everything you’ve got. When you demand success, you succeed.

Next Actions For Success

Today, think of ways that you can put your back against the wall. What difficult position can you put yourself in that will force you to accelerate your business growth? Get uncomfortable and work your way through it.

What’s your raging river? Let us know in the comments below.