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The 10 Life-Changing Gifts of the Entrepreneurial Struggle Personal growth is the reward for doing the work required to build something of value.

By Sherrie Campbell

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Struggle is natural to any journey. It forces us to feel our life and liveliness. To go through life without obstacles would literally cripple us. Without struggle we do not have the opportunity for personal evolvement. Solving problems and getting through obstacles is defining for our character. Under pressure we learn how to focus our minds, control our stress and excel. We learn to work through fears and build strong foundations of courage, based in risk taking. We learn to overcome defeat and rise above challenge. We learn to adapt to adversity. In essence we develop resilience.

1. Handling stress.

The worst form of stress is the absence of it. There is no purpose to living a life if it is a life we cannot feel and deeply experience. We need challenges to master, and problems to overcome. If we are living in a life where everything is provided for us, our thinking fails to evolve, we fail to mature, our relationships atrophy and our spirits weaken. Without a meaningful sense of struggle, something in us breaks down. Without stress we having nothing meaningful to rub against giving us a deeper purpose to live for.

Related: How Successful People Deal With Stress

2. Resilience.

When in the midst of what may seem an insurmountable challenge we feel fear and panic, two emotions we must face in order to thrive. No one can carry our struggles for us. No one can be resilient for us. No one can get us to where we need to go but us. Victory comes from our own stress and effort. We must be willing to carry the weight of our challenges on our own.

In life and business we all face similar struggles ordinary to life. Every struggle is a human struggle. This is not to minimize the experience of the pain or discomfort we feel, but to keep in mind others have survived similar things before us. There is a wealth of wisdom available to help us through our challenges from those who have already survived them. It is a matter of doing the research, changing our actions, applying new thoughts, and pushing through our fears

3. Positive self-talk.

When in the midst of a struggle we don't need to read volumes of information to get us through. Our minds are already overwhelmed with emotion. We must break survival down into simple mantras we can easily repeat to keep us going. Some sayings to use are; "this too shall pass," "pain is temporary," "just hit the ball that is in front of you," "through faith all things are possible," "just keep swimming, swimming, swimming (Dori from Finding Nemo)"

These simple mantras help regulate stress, calm our emotions and keep us going.

4. Courage.

In the face of struggle we need wisdom and courage. We need compassion and strength. We must realize the amazing potential of the present moment. Real life is messy. There is no set formula for the development of courage. In each situation, the equation changes. In each new challenge we have to dig for courage in unknown places from within ourselves. In each challenge we grapple with strong emotions such as anxiety, love, panic and anger. For this reason, each struggle forces us to develop new and unique parts of our psyches. We develop a courage that is always in the process of becoming more well-rounded.

5. Patience.

When we struggle we stretch, we grow and learn. Struggle forces us to self-reflect. Nothing makes us self-reflect more than loss, uncertainty and pain. Self-reflection is how we find the solutions to our problems. Through patience we harness our more out-of-control emotions which cause us to act too soon, leading us into poor decision making.

With patience and perseverance we increase our emotional intelligence. An increase in emotional intelligence has lifetime benefits. We become more successful decision makers, paramount to running an empire. Through struggle we build a sustainable internal program. We operate our actions around this program making our businesses more functional, organized and able to flourish.

6. Resourcefulness.

Ambiguity creates doubt and anxiety. There is no way around ambiguity; we get through ambiguity. We invest ourselves in soul-searching, researching, studying, finding answers and making them manifest. The grey areas make us resourceful. We dig deep, fight and struggle for our answers. We learn to focus on solutions, not problems.

Ambiguity forces us to put our immediate needs on hold to pursue our larger more important goals. Success comes to those who master mindfulness. It comes those who put their immediate needs on hold and continue managing their tendencies. We get ourselves out of ambiguity quicker when we control our fearful impulses.

Related: Want to Reach Your Goals? Adopt and Embrace the Hustle Mentality.

7. Learning to simplifying.

Masterful business people value the importance of breaking problems down into manageable parts. Tackling one problem at time and not carrying a heavier load outside of what is necessary leads to success. Struggle teaches us to work smarter, not harder.

When we simplify we make our challenges controllable. When things are manageable we have more clarity with which to make our next decisions. In simplifying we avoid the reactive emotions caused by overwhelm. We learn to take on what we can handle and trust that time and patience will resolve the rest.

8. Breathing exercises.

There is nothing more settling to a distracted and stressed mind than to bring oxygen into the brain. Our brains need oxygen. When we start to feel ourselves getting frustrated, fearful or angry, we must stop and take in a deep, slow inhale low into our abdomen. Oxygen is necessary for emotional management and sound decision making.

At any moment of exhaustion or stress stop and take a long, deep breath. Do this now…it is immediately grounding.

9. Your own workable philosophy.

Challenges are what cause us to think and thrive. Out of challenge we develop ideas and strategies for creating a life worth living. Our struggles make us aware of the assumptions, beliefs and ideas which drive our actions. In this way our philosophy shapes our attitude about life and business.

With a sound philosophy we start to live ordinary things in insightful ways. It is struggle which forces us to carve out practical ideas to live by. As we continue to face new challenges our philosophy grows, guiding us toward new possibilities for living and succeeding. We know we have developed a sound belief system when the strategies we use benefit others and don't fail under the exposure of the light of day.

10. Development of yourself.

We are never more acutely aware of the pressures of the moment then when facing fear and uncertainty. Our survival instincts force us to pay attention to every nuance of our uncertain situation. We become connected to everything we see, listen to, read, learn, try and practice in order to make our situation solvable. This awareness helps us better ourselves. In bettering ourselves we discover new pathways to success.

Challenges teach us we can all do better. It deepens our character. We learn to pull it from where don't have it. We become remarkable, resourceful and confident in our abilities to be successful in life no matter what we face. We become people of action. We develop a strong will, one that is fundamental to success.

To create great success we all need something to struggle against and struggle for. The aim in life should not be to avoid challenges or stress but to have the right ones. We should not avoid worry, but to learn to care about the right things. We should not strive to be without fear but to confront fears with strength and passion. What we become is a direct result of what we are willing to endure.

Related: 7 Mental Shifts That Allowed Me to Become a Millionaire at 22

Sherrie Campbell

Psychologist, Author, Speaker

Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person. Her new book, Success Equations: A Path to an Emotionally Wealthy Life, is available for pre-order.

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