Why Overcoming the Shadows of Your Past Will Lead to Your Brightest Future How to face and overcome the voices holding you back to propel yourself forward

By Kyle Hermans

Key Takeaways

  • Your transformational power lies in your willingness to confront the past and break free from old programming.
  • Many internal barriers can be traced back to when you received negative feedback.
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If you're reading this, you're probably like me, a high-performing leader with aspirations to excel in all aspects of life. You're likely no stranger to ambition. I'm constantly dreaming, thinking, and strategizing about how to grow in my personal and professional life. How can I be stronger, more kind, more inspiring? How can I be a better father, husband and CEO? How can I be the fittest version of myself? How can I be the best drummer and musician possible?

However, you might have noticed that you've encountered self-doubt, obstacles, and possibly that imposter syndrome feeling that has hindered your progress toward realizing your dreams.

What's been holding you back on your professional or personal goals?

Mapping your future

Consider what you're currently striving to achieve and manifest in your life. Is it a promotion, starting a family, finding a fulfilling romantic relationship, improving your health, creating an innovative productt or simply seeking "something more"?

When I've asked people in the business community, "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" they typically fall into one of three categories:

  • #1: "I have no idea."
  • #2: "I know what I want but tend to give up when it gets tough."
  • #3: "I see my future clearly, and nothing will stop me."

The most successful and fulfilled individuals share a common trait: a strong sense of purpose and clarity about their life's direction. That would be #3: "I see my future clearly, and nothing will stop me."

This observation, echoed by Oprah in her interviews with countless accomplished individuals, underscores the significance of purpose and determination in achieving one's dreams.

You have to want your goal MORE than the discomfort and toil of achieving it. This applies whether you're working on an invention or a new business or want to improve your physical or mental health by walking or reading daily.

Related: Why Self-Doubt Can Be Your Secret Weapon

Why growth requires confronting the past

Having worked as a high-performance coach for over a decade, I've supported hundreds of individuals in their pursuit of greatness. Throughout this journey, I've uncovered a universal truth:

The shadows of your past can cast darkness on your path to a brighter future. And each new level of growth and transformation you achieve necessitates confronting new shadows. I like to call this, "Every level has a new devil."

We all possess hidden mental barriers that impede our progress, and the magnitude of these inner obstacles corresponds to the scale of our goals or challenges.

The bigger your aspirations, the more intense your inner shadows can become.


What shadows of the past hold you back?

Examine the roadblocks preventing you from achieving your goals. Is it feelings of inadequacy, inexperience, unattractiveness, lack of confidence, or financial limitations?

Then, ask yourself, "When did you first encounter these feelings?" Many internal barriers can be traced back to when you received negative feedback. As a younger person, you may have often internalized this negativity, accepting it as your truth. The labels and limitations others imposed on you may have shaped your self-identity, dictating what you can and can't do.

For instance, a child who frequently hears statements like, "You're so immature; you'll never handle money responsibly," may grow up believing in their irresponsibility. Years later, when this individual dreams of starting a business, those negative voices resurface, discouraging them from trying.

Related: 5 Entrepreneurial Roadblocks You Never See Coming

Choosing courage over fear

To conquer the fear you feel in these shadows, summon courage. Everyone has courage inside of them, waiting to be tapped into. And where there is shadow, negativity, and fear, there is also courageous light—they coexist.

Ask, "Where is the courage needed to light my path toward growth?" and, "What is my driving force that is stronger than my fear of trying and failing?"

Identify the shadows and negative beliefs that hold you back. Uncover the root of these limitations, often stemming from the undue influence of others on your self-worth. You can choose which influences you take to heart and which to discard.

Once you put those old fear-based voices aside, put your focus on who you feel you can be and do.

After identifying the shadows, step into the light because focusing on shadows keeps you in the shadows while focusing on ascension naturally propels you upward.

Related: 5 Ways to Rewire Your Brain to Be Positive

Inner leadership equals outer leadership

Our external world mirrors our internal world. Leaders can elevate themselves to new heights by addressing barriers and confronting shadows. You must intentionally identify and then banish the monsters in your head to clear the way for your best self.

Your transformational power lies in your willingness to confront the past and break free from old programming.

As you strive to unlock your future, confront your shadows and illuminate them with courage and intentionality. In doing so, you'll rise above your past limitations and step into the brilliant light of your potential.

Kyle Hermans

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO and Founder of Be Courageous

Kyle Hermans is Founder and CEO of Be Courageous, a global business consultancy, unlocking breakthroughs in culture, strategy, and innovation to build and transform the most ambitious leaders and brands. Kyle has facilitated, trained, and keynoted 2500+ sessions to 500+ brands in 80+ countries.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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