There were a lot of things I expected when I embarked on this entrepreneurial journey.
Money (lots and lots of money).
But there was one thing that came out of left field and took me by surprise. Owning a business made me a better man.
Which took me by complete surprise, because everything I had heard when I was a kid about people who had money was suddenly a wash.
I grew up in a town where the local church proclaimed, “Money is the root of all evil!” and “rich people are greedy”. (Sound familiar?)
While I was committed to being different and building a business my way, never would it have dawned on me that becoming a business owner could drastically change my life and mold me into a stronger, more thoughtful version of myself.
Here are the six most powerful lessons I’ve learned so far in being a business owner and growing into the person I want to be, and how you can implement them for yourself (whatever your goals might be).
Success doesn’t happen overnight—regardless of what the Internet wants you to believe— which wasn’t exactly fun. Success comes from diligent work and consistency in your actions. Being a business owner and winning is all about the long term sustainability, not the shiny here and now.
Think about it like a game of Monopoly compared to a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos.
Hungry Hungry Hippos is all about the quick wins with little strategy, if any. You beat your competitors by getting the most balls, and the game lasts about ten minutes.
Monopoly is all about long term strategy, positioning, and paying attention to the traffic that lands on certain tiles (aka: properties), and on average, takes up to 4 hours or more to complete a game.
If you’re stuck in the mindset of Hungry Hungry Hippos, it’s going to be really hard to actually pay attention to the Monopoly game you’re playing, and you’re going to make mistakes that keep you from winning.
In any long term strategy-based experience (especially business), winning comes from having the wisdom to put together a plan that serves your short and long term needs, the flexibility to see when to take a detour, and the patience to see things through to the end.
When you’re in progress, many things look like failure, and if you change course too quickly, you will create failure. But if you give yourself the space and time to work through the challenges, you’ll be surprised how much success you can find at the end of that journey.
Here’s how you can build up your patience muscle:
- Choose one goal that you want to achieve for yourself in the next month.
- Break that goal down into smaller steps you need to take to get there. For example, if you want to lose five pounds, you might need to increase your daily water intake, exercise three days per week, and add one more serving of vegetables to your diet every day.
- Once you’ve got those steps down, make space in your schedule for you to complete them consistently over the next 30 days.
- Celebrate every time you complete a step to give yourself positive reinforcement.
- Follow the plan diligently, and then assess if you reached your goal at the end of the 30 days. If you did, congratulate yourself and choose a new goal. If not, assess why you think you didn’t reach your goal, and make a new plan accounting for the new information you have.
If you ask someone why they got into business, they’ll likely tell you one of three things:
“I didn’t want to work for someone else. I wanted to be my own boss.”
“I wanted the freedom to do what I want, whenever I want.”
“I had this idea, and I HAD to do it!”
Here’s what no one tells you before you go into business. When you’re a business owner, you may not have a “boss” anymore, but your accountability increases tenfold.
In life, you choose whether or not to honor the promises you make. If you don’t, you can end relationships, hurt your reputation, or be thought of as flaky—but there’s nothing to really keep you from making the choice to break your word.
In business, there are much graver repercussions.
Clients depend on you to keep your word.
People you refer business to or do business deals with expect you to honor your commitments.
And on top of all of that, there’s a little legal push to remind you that integrity is everything. When you sign a contract, it’s no longer a simple promise you made—it’s a legally binding agreement that you must honor.
So if you don’t hold yourself accountable, that means you’ll burn your brand to the ground, you’ll be penalized financially, and most importantly, it can mean the people that work for you may be out of a job overnight with no ability to pay their bills, afford food, or keep their housing.
When you open a business, you’re no longer making choices for your life alone. Your impact radius as a business owner is widespread, affecting your employees, your clients, your audience, and more!
Realizing this made me look at my life in a new way, and I realized that if I wanted to create massive success in business, I had to hold myself to this standard—period.
This helped me develop a keener sense of awareness for how my actions genuinely affected other people, which inspired me to think, speak, and behave in a more deliberate, conscious way. Because when it comes down to it, my priority is to have a positive impact on the world, and becoming a business owner showed me just how much influence I really do have.
The best part is, you have this kind of influence now too.
So when you think about the man you want to be, it comes down to, “Do I want to be known as a man who keeps his word, or a man who can’t be relied on?” Keeping that question in focus will help you when making decisions or choosing your next step.
Failure is something people are often taught to avoid. Strive for success! Be your best! Everyone gets a trophy!
But business is not all about winning. You lose sometimes too.
Sometimes you lose hard.
If you let it affect you more than it needs to, it will impact your mindset deeply and you will spiral emotionally. This is where you make the choice about who you are going to be.
Will you choose to learn from failure and move forward, possibly finding a new solution you wouldn’t have been able to uncover unless you failed?
Or will you choose to give up, do something else, or (even scarier) move backward?
Failure in business is unavoidable, and embracing how to fail forward is how you learn grit and resilience. It teaches you how to perceive things in new ways.
Every failure shows you where you previously had blinders.
What did you miss before when you were looking at the larger picture?
Which part of your instincts did you ignore?
What opportunities were within reach that you turned away from because you couldn’t see them clearly?
Failure is simply a lesson in wisdom, helping you to build the strength, tenacity, and foresight you need to accomplish your goals.
These moments are how you define what kind of life you’re choosing to live.
A life of richness, or a life of settling. The choice is always yours.
4.) Relationship Investment
When I first started in business, my friends were going to college to day drink and meet women. Not my idea of building a solid future.
I wanted to create a business that would become an empire, which meant, I needed to become the man that could build an empire. I spent my time reading books, going to seminars, and learning from mentors that would help me compress ten years of success into much less.
Would drinking and being wild be fun? Maybe.
But would it get me where I wanted to go or help me become the man I wanted to be? No way!
I learned early on that to be successful in business, you need the support of other people. This means building teams, signing clients, creating business partnerships or deals, and bringing on employees—on top of making sure your inner circle is helping you reach your goals. If you want to make sure these people continue to choose you, you have to be worth choosing.
This made me go to work on myself so I could keep the negative aspects of my ego in check, develop deeper empathy and understanding for everyone around me, and release a lot of selfishness.
Making your relationships a priority goes beyond checking in regularly to see how the other person is doing or seeing how you can support them. Being truly invested in your relationships is all about putting in the effort to be a better man, so your relationships have a solid foundation to continue building on over time.
That’s where this next piece comes in…
5.) Constant Growth
Every new level of success requires me to “be more”. If you don’t grow with your business, you cannot be the leader your company needs. And if your business’s growth outpaces your own, your business becomes vulnerable to collapse. That’s why personal growth is a non-negotiable when you become a business owner.
This means facing some uncomfortable truths about yourself and working through them, or choosing to stay as you are, capping your potential.
As my business grew, I was in constant examination of whether or not I was developing the right attributes to be worthy of leading the people I served. I was keenly aware that you cannot be a leader if the people you’re looking to lead won’t accept you as their leader.
This required me to take an honest look at myself, my actions, my beliefs, and make the conscious choice to change if I found something that didn’t fit with who I wanted to be. Luckily, this process gets easier (and faster!) over time.
Here are a few ways you can get started with personal growth or take your personal growth game to the next level:
- Set some time aside in your calendar to explore your goals
- List out the attributes associated with the type of man that accomplishes those goals
- Out of that list, which attributes do you most need to nurture and grow to become the man who accomplishes the goals you have?
- Focus on one or two at a time, and make a game plan.
- Compare what you’re doing now (that you want to change), and start listing alternative options. Seeking solutions is KEY in personal growth. Not all solutions will work for you, and it’s important not to give up if one solution doesn’t fit. That’s why starting with a list of possible options is helpful—so you can keep moving forward if something doesn’t work for you as expected.
- Implement the solution for 90 days, checking in throughout the process. Whenever you make personal growth a priority, you’ll notice there are cycles you go through as you make shifts. If you’re prepared for those cycles, it’s easier to get through the hard parts of growth because you can start recognizing it as a sign that things are working for you.
- Repeat regularly. Creating a plan for constant personal growth that you can track is helpful. This helps you learn to be less reactive to your world and exhibit more self-control. Intentional change is always easier than forced change. So by working personal evolution into your regular schedule, you’re giving yourself the space and time to avoid trauma and larger problems, because you’re able to avoid them more often in the first place.
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