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How Facing Your Demons Improves Your Business and Your Relationships Facing the big monsters in your life will give you unshakable confidence in your ability to perform in the future.

By Trevor Cowley Edited by Chelsea Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Understanding yourself and your demons is what separates average entrepreneurs from great ones. The ability of a business owner to look inward and not only understand their abilities but also focus on ways they can improve those abilities and curtail their weaknesses is a key factor to success, no matter what industry they're in. As an entrepreneur, you can approach personal development in several ways. Here are two that I focus on to make myself a better husband and leader in business:

Accept your shortcomings

The first step in accepting your shortcomings is to acknowledge that you have them. It can be one of the most difficult parts of the process, but it's the foundation for all forms of personal growth. Accepting your shortcomings and weaknesses takes a high level of self-awareness, which is critical for entrepreneurs.

You need to ask yourself: Am I living up to all of the potential that I have within me? If the answer is no, it's your responsibility to reflect on the causes of your shortcomings and why you're not maximizing the potential that you know you have. Are your shortcomings due to a lack of discipline? Are they the result of a negative habit? A lack of self-esteem? Fear of failure?

Once you identify the root causes, develop a plan to address your shortcomings. Don't be afraid to push yourself. This could involve setting goals, seeking training or education, and committing yourself to consistent habits that you know will lead you to success. It's big, it's scary, and it's challenging, but it's going to force you to grow, and in turn, your business will as well.

Overcoming shortcomings will serve as milestones on the road to reaching a better version of yourself. You won't know what you're capable of unless you've gone up against a giant obstacle and won. When you face your demons and win, you send a clear message to yourself: I am a badass, and I can overcome obstacles that are in the way of reaching my goal.

When you're feeling down, you have reference points to anchor your self-worth to. You've overcome struggles in the past, so you know you can overcome the current one. You find validation within yourself. You stop seeking external validation because you've already proven to yourself that you've got what it takes. When you become good enough for yourself, you stop caring what other people think.

I've been up against these giants for nearly my entire life, from being addicted to heroin at age 18 to running 37 miles on my 37th birthday. Each time I've faced one of these big, hairy audacious goals and won, I've been more confident and capable as a businessman, leader, friend, husband and father.

As much as you might feel that your shortcomings hold you back, once you overcome them, they differentiate you as an entrepreneur. Accepting your shortcomings, adjusting and moving forward is the exact same process you will face as an entrepreneur in growing your business to the best possible version it can be.

The more you practice this in your business, the more it provides you with more tools in your belt for the next challenge you face as an entrepreneur. If you have a pulse, it means that you're going to face struggles in this life. The same goes for a business. There will always be new obstacles to face and new challenges to overcome, but accepting the shortcomings of yourself and your business and moving forward is what will lead you to be a formidable competitor in any industry.

Refine yourself constantly and consistently

Your job in personal development is never over. Frequently, people become content with where they're at when they're comfortable, and they stop pushing themselves to grow. When they end up in this position, it means they're no longer showing up for themselves and who they care for. There are endless ways you can continue to work on yourself, but here are a few key suggestions:

Manage your time effectively. Learning effective time management in your personal life is going to be one of the greatest skills you will learn as an entrepreneur. Time management forces you to analyze critical tasks and establish clear priorities. Identify your most important tasks, and focus on those first. Get to the root of why you're procrastinating. Identify what that habit is all about.

Create a schedule, avoid distractions, and know when to delegate tasks when other people can take on the workload, letting you focus on the most critical tasks in your life. All other elements of personal development depend on managing your time and developing habits of success.

Take care of yourself mentally and physically. The road to being a successful business owner is going to be full of struggle. It's tough, and it's taxing. It's also what weeds out those who can endure from the people who can't. If you are going to perform your best as an entrepreneur — as a leader within your business — you need to make sure you're paying your necessary dues by taking care of yourself mentally and physically. Set aside time in your schedule to make sure you're showing up for yourself, moving your body and recharging in the ways you find rewarding.

Commit to learning 24/7. Constantly seek to expand your knowledge. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. Look for mentors and educational resources. There are endless online resources and courses that can teach you valuable skills and knowledge, but it's up to you to make sure you're carving time out of your day to commit to learning. If you're starting entrepreneurship and you don't have the capital to spend on courses, there are tons of free resources on YouTube and podcasts with valuable information.

This will help you learn from others who've both succeeded and failed, not only in entrepreneurship but in every other aspect of life that is relevant to you. Committing to expanding your knowledge also helps you stay informed on the latest developments in your field, which helps you stay ahead of the competition. If you want to come equipped with the right tools and skills as an entrepreneur, you have to make learning a priority.

Personal development is about staying uncomfortable, becoming comfortable with what's unfamiliar, and honoring yourself. Ask yourself every day: What am I doing to create a new ceiling for myself and raise the floor of what I once was? Make intentional decisions to continually raise the ceiling of what's possible for you. You'll learn to adapt to change, and your business will grow with you. If you focus on facing the demons that currently control your habits and overcome them, it's inevitable that you'll witness endless growth within yourself and your business.

Trevor Cowley


Trevor Cowley is a 38-year-old serial entrepreneur, investor, writer, and podcaster. He’s a co-owner in 5 businesses that collectively produce over eight figures. He co-hosts a top 100 business podcast on iTunes called Real Business Owners. Trevor is committed to helping entrepreneurs succeed.

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