Three Ways Entrepreneurship Has Made Me A Better Person
In the rare quiet moments I’m able to devote to reflection, I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of change.
Life has a way of changing all of us over time, but often the change is subtle and imperceptible.
There are, however, certain accelerators that can bring about rapid and meaningful change in an individual's life.
The decision to become an entrepreneur is one of those accelerators. The act of creation, of building something from nothing, fundamentally changes those involved for better or worse.
The relationship between a business and its founders is coevolutionary. My company has changed for the better over the past seven years, and so have I.
In fact, looking back I can say that the decision to become an entrepreneur has made me a better person.
There is power in compassion
There is powerful, if not slightly off-color quote by Ernest Hemingway that has always resonated with me.
When asked about the process of writing, Hemingway responded that "You have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously."
I believe that the same sentiment applies to entrepreneurship.
Deep down, I feel like you're not a true entrepreneur until you've been hurt and find a way to keep going. When you do this, you find that you emerge a far more compassionate person.
I’ve experienced my fair share of pain, including disappointment, betrayal, and countless failures.
Rather than make me bitter, however, these experiences have made me more compassionate towards everyone I encounter.
I recognize how hard things are, how stressful they can be, and how much failure hurts. When I see others experiencing the same pain that I went through, my heart goes out to them.
Humility and wisdom go hand-in-hand
Many people think of modern entrepreneurs as cocky, confident, and self-promotional. For me, however, entrepreneurship has been a humbling experience.
The failure that accompanies creation has a way of knocking you down a peg or two. You quickly come to realize that you’re not infallible and that there are always going to be people who are smarter, luckier, or just flat out better than you.
During my time as an entrepreneur I’ve met some of the brightest people around, made more embarrassing mistakes than I care to recount, and had my miscalculations thrown back in my face by people eager for me to fail.
Running that gauntlet has, quite frankly, made me question my ability more than once. In the end, however, it made me more self-aware and put to rest any false assumptions about my own greatness.
While that may sound negative, I don’t view the humility that emerged from these struggles as a weakness or burden. Instead, I like to think of it as a gift.
For me, humility is the foundation of wisdom. After all, what is wisdom if not the recognition of your limitations and gratefulness for your strengths? The road to wisdom is a rocky one, and it starts with recognizing your inherent weakness.
Grit is essential to success
The final and perhaps most important trait I feel that I have developed as an entrepreneur is grit.
Grit is just another word for strength of character. An individual or team who displays grit is someone who can take a hit and just keep on going, no matter what.
It’s this resilience that enables successful teams to avoid the pitfalls of depression, lethargy, and apathy that people tend to run into when faced with adversity.
Before I became an entrepreneur, I struggled to move forward in the face of recurring failures.
If something I worked on wasn't successful, I simply gave up and moved onto a new focus. I did not have had the grit necessary to keep moving forward in the face of adversity.
However, the forcing function of entrepreneurship has taught me never to give up. Had I never built BodeTree, I know I wouldn't be as gritty a person as I am today.
This trait has helped me to pursue my dreams in the face of adversity, and to inspire others to do the same.
I'm incredibly grateful for everything my entrepreneurial journey has taught me so far.
Without taking on the challenge and dealing with the pain, I wouldn't have developed traits like compassion, humility, and grit.
Entrepreneurs of all walks of life should be aware of the symbiotic relationship between founders and the businesses they build.
If you're lucky, the relationship will change you for the better.