One of the boldest steps that anyone can take in their life is to acknowledge their weaknesses, confront their challenges and to admit that they need help or guidance, and to then seek that out. To want to become a better person, a more rounded human being and to understand how we think and what makes us tick, are all noble intentions. They are also essential to equipping ourselves to be the best and most successful entrepreneurs that we can be. Personal development is an intrinsic part of the process.
As much as we may crave success in our lives and our entrepreneurial ventures, it can be an ongoing battle to maintain the will, the self-belief and the confidence to keep on going. We strive for results, and push ourselves to grow but progress can be slow and painful. Social media ensures that we’re served with images of those whose successes dwarf our own. Their results seem to come effortlessly and with grace and good-fortune where our own efforts seem at times to be measured in blood, sweat, tears and little-else. It’s easy to feel inadequate, like a failure or to be seduced into thinking we should quit.
As tempting as it can be to give-in, we must remember that the process of personal development comes hand-in-hand with the pursuit of entrepreneurial success, and it’s an ongoing journey with no defined end-point. This is a process where we must set our own direction and remain open-minded and diligent as we explore the ideas and practices that will take us to where we want to be in our lives and in our business ventures.
I’ve gathered together 6 essential tips to keep in mind as you progress through your own personal development journey. They apply equally whether you’re just embarking on the process or if you’re already a number of years into it. What you’ll hopefully see is that this is a lifelong process!
1. Start from where you are
Understanding our priorities, purpose and setting our goals are all vital if we’re truly to achieve greatness; it’s impossible to achieve a destination if we’re unclear about where we’re going and why. It’s equally important though to acknowledge where we’re starting from. We must understand the supporting and limiting beliefs we have about ourselves regarding success, adversity, money and each and every aspect of ourselves if we’re really going to become the person we want to be. Personal development isn’t a one-size-fits-all model or toolkit for taking everyone from point A to point B. It’s a process of recognising where you are in your life, setting your goals and then learning, stretching, growing and seeking out the opportunities to get there. Everyone has the opportunity to move forwards provided they can understand where they’re starting from. You shouldn’t be daunted, demoralised or depressed that you’re not in a better position to begin with. Everyone has the scope to improve, and nobody is the perfect finished article. Start where you are and go from there.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
2. Remember that everyone feels fear
Everyone suffers from fear from time-to-time, no matter who they are or how seasoned or successful they may seem to others. The more you’re stretching yourself, taking on challenging goals and pushing the boundaries of your life, the greater the fears you’ll have to confront on a regular basis. In an era where many are encouraged to ‘fake it until they make it’ it can be easy to forget that no matter how confident and polished someone may appear on the outside, it’s entirely possible (or indeed, likely) that they’re tackling fears of their own every day. When we remain within the boundaries of our lives and are constrained in our thinking and our actions by staying within our comfort zone, our actions, goals and progress become limited. We may feel comfortable but we’re unlikely to grow or progress, and may instead start to stagnate. Only by pushing the limits, taking on new things, exploring new business models, developing new skills and testing ourselves can we progress and each of these things brings with it fear. Feel the fear, but keep on going.
3. There’s more than one way to reach your goal
What works for one person or even for a large number of people doesn’t have to work for you. It doesn’t define you as a failure if the methods that one person swears by, aren’t compatible with you or your lifestyle. I’ve stated frankly my opinions on the merits and drawbacks of ‘The 5am Club’ as just one example of this. While there are many that will claim that it’s essential to rise early and to ‘hustle and grind’ your way to success, these methods certainly won’t work for everyone. It’s far healthier and more pragmatic to explore and experiment to find what methods, tactics and hacks will work for you. Make habits of those things that serve and help you in your growth and your goals. Reject those that don’t without guilt or hesitation. More important than being constrained into thinking that you’ve got to emulate all the methods of the greats to achieve their successes, is to be open-minded and willing to learn new things and explore new methods. Doing nothing is not an option if you want to achieve new, greater things. Doing everything isn’t going to work either.
4. Seeking help, guidance and mentorship are essential to achieving growth and success
From an early age, many seem to think it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help or seek guidance. I’m certainly not advocating that you abandon all personal initiative, or that the first step when you encounter difficulties should be to ask for help. In order to achieve great things, and to learn and grow as an entrepreneur and as a person, it’s essential to seek out the guidance of those who’ve been there before you, and to listen and employ their advice. The single best way of emulating the successes of those you admire is to spend time around those who have achieved the things that you crave. This may be done through investing in formal mentorships, masterminds, attending seminars, training courses or networking events. It’s also achieved by surrounding yourself with positive, supportive and influential people. You will need to seek out help from time-to-time. In due course, you can pay it forwards by supporting and mentoring those who are a few steps behind you.
5. There is true wisdom in realising how little you know
The greatest minds in the world, not just in entrepreneurship but in all areas of life, are those who acknowledge that there is always more to learn. There is a reason why entrepreneurial luminaries such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban, Ray Dalio and many others like them devote so much time to reading in their daily life; it’s because they recognise that there is always more to learn. My friend and mentor, Dr John DeMartini has read over 10,000 books, and the average CEO reputedly reads over 60 books per year. If you can acknowledge gaps in your knowledge or experience and are then willing to do something to address it, then you’ll be well on the way to becoming a better, stronger version of yourself. Learning is a lifelong process, and one to which we must all commit and invest ourselves in on a daily basis.
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance”
6. Problems and obstacles are essential to learning and growth
Fear of failure is one of the biggest barriers for many in getting started at a new venture, or in carrying on with an existing one when times get tough. It’s essential to remember though that those who’ve achieved the greatest successes in their chosen fields are the people who embrace the failures, the rejections and the negative feedback they receive as opportunities to learn and to come back stronger. The iterations, the experiments, the prototypes and tests are what go on to produce the runaway successes in each and every field. If you don’t encounter obstacles and barriers to your progress or understanding, then you may not be pushing yourself hard enough. If you’re faced with obstacles, take heart that you’re probably blazing a trail to improvement.
The desire to develop and improve ourselves, to seek advancement in life and in our business ventures is one of the common traits of successful entrepreneurs. To constantly push the boundaries of our comfort zone, to stretch, to extend and to become better, more successful and more fulfilled, is the essence of the spark within us. As powerful as this can be as a motivator, at times we all struggle for the self-belief to continue. Our confidence can fade away when we face the rejections, the criticism, the disappointing results or even just when progress is slower to come than we would like.
Remember that to grow and develop, to learn and advance as an entrepreneur and as a person takes time, commitment and a willingness to regularly confront uncomfortable feelings and situations. It demands persistent and consistent effort, but if you can commit and trust the process, the rewards will come.