“Push past the Iceberg!’  That was the advice of our rafting guide as this black grit covered monster challenged our path down the Alsek River in Alaska. He didn’t need to add the words “Quickly!” We were ten days into a trip down the Alsek River from the Yukon into Alaska and on to the Pacific, when this berg from the nearby glacier threatened our path into the lake.  Not big enough to trouble the Titanic, but certainly capable of causing us a major headache with little brother teetering on its top as well!  It was a scary prospect.  What to do?

One option was to procrastinate, to make camp, to hope that a shift in the wind might sort our problems.  An option that was certainly attractive compared to confronting our fears of the iceberg.  However, this option might mean a missed flight out of Dry Bay, an uncertain outcome to our trip and probably the same choice of still having to confront the ‘berg, just a few days later having missed our flight!

It strikes me that the challenge of the iceberg is no different from the problems that we face daily in business or our personal lives.  The black gritty monster of fears, uncertainty and an unwillingness to make critical decisions suddenly blocks our way or our thinking.  Figuratively we make camp, sit and procrastinate for reasons that we tell ourselves are reasonable, when in fact we are simply frightened of such things as ridicule, the unknown or simply getting it wrong.  We tell ourselves that we need to wait for a better day, or a better way, or until we have got the solution, service or product just right.  As a result, we feel intimidated. We are stuck and we miss amazing opportunities.  The fact is that to succeed we have to move out of our comfort zone.


Well first of all we need a plan and a clear goal.  On the river trip, our goal was the airstrip downriver from this monster in two days time and so we paused, not to procrastinate, but to plot our course past it.  Where were the best currents for a fast passage?  On which side would it be safest to pass?  How could we minimise our exposure to threat?  Fears are much less fearful when we confront them, recognise them for what they are and are energised by the opportunities beyond.  If our dream is big enough then clear plans to turn them into reality will overcome any barrier.

Secondly, clearly work out the consequences of the threats and also the potential of the opportunities.  Threats often tend to be obvious, as in the iceberg crashes on to the raft!  However, if we focus solely on the difficulties and doubts we will end up sitting on the bank forever. Instead, if we focus on the opportunities delivered by overcoming the challenge that will create the will, the commitment and the energy to press on to success.

Thirdly, apply that well worked, but still very powerful, 80/20 rule.  In other words, ensure that maximum effort is concentrated into the key 20% areas where 80% of the results are generated.  Passing an iceberg in a raft means doing it as fast and accurately as possible.  Therefore, a no brainer, best people on the oars/paddles to propel and steer!  So, whatever shape your iceberg, work it out for yourself.  What is your challenge?  Where will the best 20% of effort yield the maximum 80% return?  So often we remain stuck, or under threat, because 80% of our time and effort goes into areas that will never yield more than a 20% return.  This ratio applies to both business and personal opportunities or relationships.

Fourthly, do your homework and prepare.  Whilst procrastination will get you nowhere, to rush into challenging situations recklessly will only yield headaches.  We had great guides that day on the Alsek.  They knew the river, they understood the currents and had a cool command of their expertise.  However, we still could  not sit on the bank and wait for better times.  The challenge had to be faced, the iceberg bypassed.  So we loaded up the raft with the right people on the paddles and went for it down the chosen channel.  In short, there is never a perfect time to pass these challenges, and telling ourselves that we are only waiting for the perfect time to do so is simply a lie to ourselves.  We have to have momentum to achieve our targets.

Our best experiences are often on the other side of fears faced and overcome.


To sum up, the “ice” in whatever is our iceberg, will never melt fast enough for procrastination to work – the challenge that is blocking us will always outlast us if we simply wait.  In fact, the waiting may make the fears grow as we lose momentum.  The ice will always win that way!  The only solution is:

  1. Define your iceberg and what will you achieve by passing it? Identify the problem and the goal.  Fears are always easier to handle when you have named and defined them and been energised by what lies beyond. 
  2. Plan to succeed. If we have no plan, that is simply a plan to fail.
  3. Carefully evaluate the opportunities and threats with a mid-set of opportunity, however don’t drift into procrastination.
  4. Focus the key 20% of our best effort into the identified areas of maximum consequence to gain the highest yield.
  5. Prepare and execute – procrastination will simple leave you sitting on the bank staring at the wrong side of the challenge.

Finally, even icebergs look much better from a distance and when you have passed them into the freedom of opportunity!

Finally, even icebergs look much better from a distance and when you have passed them into the freedom of opportunity!


Clear the Ice Berg

  1. Read this blog and act on it.
  2. E-mail cj@accessyourpotential.com for a copy of our twenty favourite visionary quotes.
  3. Contact us for details of our alignment check of mission, vision and values.  The best way past the iceberg!
  4. Please comment and share this blog.
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