Breaking Free: A Founder's Guide to Overcoming Mental Blocks

Elite peak performance tactics from a Special Forces Veteran and Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt

By Itamar Marani | April 4, 2024

What You'll Learn...

The issue with entrepreneurs and therapy

I’ve talked to several entrepreneurs who have gone to therapy, and many say the same thing. 

“It wasn’t for me.”

After pressing for more information, I usually find the same issue. 

Therapy is meant to heal trauma; the problem is that most entrepreneurs are using it to try to achieve their goals!

It’s like if someone wants to put on muscle mass, but all they know about adding muscle is that they need to exercise. 

So they go out for a jog.

When people say therapy is effective or a waste of time, they’re missing the point. What they should ask is if it’s effective in getting them the outcome they want.

In pretty much any venture, there are two main reasons why people don’t get the results they want:

  1. Ineffective strategy
  2. Ineffective execution

If you’re an entrepreneur who feels internal blocks are holding you back and you don’t know how to break through them, this guide is for you.

When people say therapy is effective or a waste of time, they’re missing the point. What they should ask is if it’s effective in getting them the outcome they want.

Vet your therapist like any other hire

First, let’s address a controversial truth:

Just because someone is a licensed therapist doesn’t mean they’re competent. 

I don’t know any entrepreneur who would fully trust someone to be their CEO just because they graduated with a degree in business, but this is exactly what people do with therapists!

They would never trust a wealth advisor with their money simply because they’re a certified fiduciary. They would look at their track record and ask about the results they’ve achieved.

I’ve never heard an entrepreneur tell me, “Before I started working with my therapist, I asked them about their results with other clients like me, what their 90-day plan would look like, and what key milestones can we expect to hit together.”

People don’t treat hiring this potentially life-changing team member with the seriousness they apply to other areas of their life and business.


  • Perhaps it’s uncomfortable. 
  • Or maybe they think, “You’re not supposed to do that.” 
  • Or perhaps a therapist told them, “That’s not how this stuff works.” 

They accept it because they’re been trained to trust the medical field implicitly. 

Here’s the issue: emotional problem-solving is still a very new field. Measuring results or success rates and distinguishing between effective and ineffective therapists is still considered taboo.

Therapists aren’t magical guides. They’re human beings; like every other profession, some are better than others.

Some therapists have the emotional discipline and awareness to put their client first. Some don’t.

Some therapists went into learning psychology to heal their own wounds and are still figuring things out for themselves.

Finally, some therapists are just not that good. 

The barrier to entry to study psychology at most colleges and universities is much lower than the one to study physics or engineering. So, unfortunately, you get some C-level players with degrees that people feel uncomfortable challenging.

I was very fortunate that my first encounter with therapy was with Mossad’s head psychologist. He is a former Air Force pilot and undercover agent who competes in Ironman competitions as a hobby—an A player, top to bottom. A top performer focused on helping other top performers overcome what’s slowing them down so they could go on to be their best.

The reality is therapy might have failed you because your therapist might have just sucked.

Is therapy the wrong tool?

Even if you’ve found a great therapist, for a lot of the ambitious entrepreneurs I work with, therapy is just the wrong path.

Therapy is usually taught and studied with the goal of healing trauma in the mind. It’s aimed at getting someone from -5 to 1 or from “depressed” to “functional.”

That’s very different than getting someone from 80 to 100.

The problem is that these two very different goals get lumped together. If an entrepreneur is trying to solve a problem like “How do I scale my company by X amount of millions more?” then asking them “Tell me what happened in your childhood?” isn’t very effective.

There’s a hope that there will be a thread somewhere connected to “Oh, this happened to you back then. It still bothers you and so it drains your energy; that’s why you’re struggling to scale your business.”

But that’s not likely.

You likely need a different toolkit to go from above average to elite. One focused on getting you from 80 to 100 and executing towards a specific goal. 

Let’s take a look at a client I worked with: David.

He decided to act with courage. He didn’t wait to feel 100% at ease. He stepped up and committed to doing what he knew was right regardless of how it felt. Within a month, he 4xed his business, and his wife no longer had to work.

David's goldmine

David was sitting on a gold mine. But he hadn’t pulled the trigger for months despite wanting to make enough money that his wife wouldn’t have to work.

He had a giant list and a business perfectly suited to take advantage of it.

One of his friends, an expert in the field, gave him a clear blueprint for success. “If you just do X, you’ll 4x your profits this month.”

But he still hadn’t pulled the trigger despite:

  1. Having a clear goal (to let his wife retire from her job)
  2. Having a step-by-step game plan

David had gone to therapy for years, and it made him feel generally more at ease, but it wasn’t helping him move forward toward the future that he wanted for his wife and their family.

He was stuck.

Some internal resistance was holding him back from executing what he knew would serve him and the life he wanted. So, instead of asking general questions, I asked him a very specific one:

“What do you think is stopping you from actually wanting to do this?”

We dug into it, and after breaking down that it wasn’t a concern about additional workload or management complexities, it came down to one thing.

He had a fear of making more money. 

At first, he said, “I don’t want my list to get upset with me or think I’m a sell-out.” I asked him why they would think that.

He responded, “Because making money is greedy,” followed by a wide-eyed silence.

With a few questions, we uncovered exactly what kept him stuck and unable to execute his game plan.

Rewriting the internal narrative and breaking free

David believed his biggest desire was to make enough money so his wife didn’t have to work, but he was more connected to that voice in his head that told him, “Making money is greedy.” It created a push-pull that left him confused, stuck, and unable to execute.  

For years, subconscious guilt and shame dictated his actions, keeping him and his business small.

David quickly realized that this blindspot around money and guilt was holding him back from growing the business!

After more discussion, when I asked him if he thought making more was greedy, he replied no.

He said, “Making money allows you to be extremely generous and giving.”

Things started to click once he understood that his money belief was an emotional worry, not a valid logical concern. He knew what he needed to do and why it was a good idea, but it still didn’t feel easy.


Because overriding 40 years of conditioning doesn’t feel natural or easy.

As obvious as it might sound, we sometimes forget that when we step out of our emotional comfort zone, it feels, you guessed it… uncomfortable.

So what did David do?

He decided to act with courage. He didn’t wait to feel 100% at ease. He stepped up and committed to doing what he knew was right regardless of how it felt. Within a month, he 4xed his business, and his wife no longer had to work. 

He did that with this 5-step framework:

  1. Clarify the goal: Make enough money so his wife doesn’t have to work.
  2. Reverse engineer a game plan: The blueprint his friend gave him.
  3. Identify the resistance: His money belief, “Making more money is greedy.”
  4. Stress test your fear: The fear wasn’t valid. “Making money allows you to be extremely generous and giving.”
  5. Be a pro: He committed, followed the blueprint, 4xed the business, and his wife was able to quit her job.

Join "Tales From The Tub"

Receive “no holds barred” entrepreneurial insights that break the mold – raw, unfiltered, and impactful. From The Baby Bathwater Institute – the underground founder community that mixes business with the science of fun.

Newsletter Opt-In

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

How to use the 5-step framework to get unstuck

Here’s the 5-step process David used that will help you break through the blocks holding you back.

Step 1: Clarify the goal

Ask yourself: “What do I want? What is the one thing I’m aiming for?” Write it down.

Step 2: Reverse engineer a game plan

Ask yourself  “If another founder wanted to achieve this goal, what would be the 1-3 most impactful actions they could take to make it happen (regardless of if they’re uncomfortable)?”

You now have your game plan.

Step 3: Identify the resistance

Here comes the hard part, ask yourself what’s holding you back from executing? It might be a fear, a belief, a hesitation, a discomfort, or whatever you want to call it. Your goal at this step is only to uncover why you’re resisting acting on your game plan. 

Write it down on paper, this will help you see the whole issue.

Step 4: Stress test your fear

Now that everything is on paper, start asking yourself questions about it. 

  • Where did I pick up this fear?
  • What situation caused me to think this way?
  • When did I learn this?
  • Who did I learn this from? 
  • Is it a valid logical concern or just an emotional worry?
  • If I had a business partner who felt this way, what would you say to them?

Write down all your answers. It’s helpful at this point to share it with a trusted friend or associate.

Step 5: Be a pro

Now it’s time for action. 

Ask yourself: “Will I commit to doing the right thing regardless of how it feels IN THE MOMENT?”

If you recognize that no actual harm will come to you if you execute, then commit! 

Commit to being an adult who does the right thing, regardless of how it feels. Being a founder takes self-awareness and courage, and you need both here.

Moving forward

Now that you have your answers and this framework, the ball is in your court.

Remember, being stuck is normal, even for the most successful people. The difference between a success and a failure is that successful people get themselves unstuck.

  • Itamar Marani

    "Could somebody else with your exact skillset (or less) accomplish more than you currently are?" If you said yes, here are 3 ways you’re invited to learn more about Itamar and his elite performance system: 1. If you're a podcast listener The Elite Performance Podcast is for you. Each podcast is a tight 30-minute episode packed with actionable mindset tactics for entrepreneurs without any motivational fluff. You can find it on your favorite podcast platform or at 2. If you're lacking clarity you can check out this free tool to uncover the #1 action to grow your business, without relying on discipline, motivation or biohacking fads. It's 100% free and you can access it at 3. If you want to aggressively level up, you're welcome to learn more about "The Arena" Performance Accelerator at Itamar Marani is ex special forces, a former undercover agent, a BJJ black belt, and was mentored by the Mossad’s head psychologist. He’s also coached over one hundred 7-9 figure entrepreneurs on performance and mindset. He’s also a BBW alumni.

Related Articles