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The Way of the Growth Warrior: How Overcoming Personal Challenges Preps Entrepreneurs for Success

One of the reasons I wrote my book The Way of the Growth Warrior: 7 Non-Negotiable Skills to Scale Your Business in Uncertain Times was to discover more members of my hidden tribe.

What hidden tribe, you ask? When I was CEO of TapInfluence (acquired by IZEA), I learned this to be true:

We are all members of, if not leaders of, a tribe that we’ve not yet found.

Upon realizing this, I made it one of my life goals to always be in pursuit of my tribe — both for my benefit, and for theirs. Your hidden tribe exists, whether you’ve started uncovering the members or not.

In fact, I’d bet that you’ve already met members of your tribe, you just don’t know it yet. Upon writing and sharing my book, I’ve started to uncover members of my tribe through people I already knew!

RELATED READING

The Way of the Growth Warrior: 7 Non-Negotiable Skills to Scale Your Business in Uncertain Times
Download a free chapter today.

Recently, I received an incredibly touching review of my book. It came from a friend of mine. While I’ve known him for years, and have always valued his friendship, I hadn’t realized that we are, in fact, part of the same tribe.

In The Way of the Growth Warrior, I share a slew of stories, anecdotes and experiences from my life, that help to add context to the lessons I’ve learned — and frankly — to who I truly am.

One of these personal stories focuses on the awful stutter I had as a child, and how I overcame it as a way of discussing underdogs, relationships and hard work. Overcoming my stutter also taught me that I was capable of overcoming other challenges — which set me up for success as an entrepreneur, CEO, board member, advisor and venture capitalist. I wasn’t expecting this story in particular to uncover any members of my tribe, which was a great lesson for me — when you show your most authentic self, including the challenges you’ve overcome, you open yourself up not to criticism, but to forging strong bonds with members of your tribe.

Here’s what my friend shared after reading my book:

Promise,
Thank you so much for sending me that piece of your book. So much of it hit home for me. The shuddering and hiding in the classroom out of fear that I would be called on, the wave of stuttering that occurs when our brains are over-stimulated, the tightening of the vocal muscles, even the reading aloud to the classroom.

There was a time in fifth grade that was so painful for me, I remember it like it was yesterday. I was tasked with a poem recital much like yours, and I urged my teacher to let me speak it out loud to her after class, but she insisted I give it a shot and try in front of the class.

Teary-eyed and shaking from fear, I gave my best effort to vocalize the poem that I had spent hours nervously memorizing. But I could not get the first word out. I painstakingly fumbled through word after word until my teacher told me to have a seat.

I sat there completely defeated and laid my head down on my desk and cried. That memory has stuck with me for years. In fifth grade, I didn’t know what it meant to strive to be the best version of myself. I didn’t know what it meant to push through life’s most difficult challenges. I was just a little guy that couldn’t speak like the other kids, and I was ridiculed for it.

Since then I have made massive strides toward improvement.

Promise, who have had a big impact on my life. I’m very proud of my journey so far but I know this is just the beginning. I still have a ton of development that needs to take place in my life. Even though my speech is much better than it used to be, it’s still not where I want it to be and I still have off-days where my stutter is worse than usual and it can be depressing.

This, alongside other events in my life, helped me realize that the power of fluency and the spoken word is a seed planted inside me just waiting to be watered. I would love to learn more about how you practiced visualizing chunks of words and grew to become the amazing person that you are today!

I knew we were similar people when I met you on the bus in Whistler, but I had no idea we were THIS similar. Seems like we are living almost the same life in different bodies and places.

Warmest Regards,
Brian Alderman

As you can imagine, Brian’s note spurred a lot of emotion in me. Not only did I find a new member of my tribe in Brian, Brian found a member of his tribe in me. And furthermore, as an entrepreneur, I know Brian isn’t alone in learning how to professionally thrive and succeed as a result of overcoming a personal challenge.

Entrepreneurs Who First Overcame Personal Obstacles

Brian isn’t the first person who overcame a stutter and found success, and neither am I. In fact, there are so many entrepreneurs who had to overcome different personal obstacles. These entrepreneurs are the Growth Warriors who decide that their challenges are not going to hold them back, and that they will succeed no matter what life throws at them.

Here are some of my favorite rockstar underdogs turned entrepreneurs:

Amy Freeman

Now the CEO of a successful franchise, The Spice & Tea Exchange, Amy Freeman wasn’t always on the traditional path to success. After some tough family issues in her teens, Amy was homeless at 16-years-old, and forced to move in with a friend. She dropped out of high school to get a waitressing job to support herself and was quickly promoted to manager. After that, her upward trajectory was unstoppable.

She rose through the ranks of different restaurants and hotels, eventually becoming the part-owner of a real estate company. On a vacation with friends, she stumbled upon Old Spice Traders — now The Spice & Tea Exchange. She approached the owners with a creative business plan to franchise the shop — and you can guess what happened next.

Despite her financial status and lack of formal education, Amy used her work ethic, business acumen and wits to become the entrepreneur she is today.

Daymond John

You’ve probably seen entrepreneur Daymond John dishing out advice on Shark Tank, or you may know him as the co-founder and CEO of the American hip hop apparel company, FUBU. Before that, Daymond was a child diagnosed with a general learning disability.

School was always challenging for him, as it took him three or four times longer to read something than it did the other children. His champion and shining star was his mother, who recognized his challenges in reading and worked every day to help him overcome them. Later, as an adult, he was formally diagnosed with dyslexia.

Daymond believes his dyslexia paved his path to entrepreneurship. “I see the world in a different way than most people and for me that’s been a positive thing,” he says in an interview with AOL. Not only did he wildly succeed despite navigating a learning disability, but he also used his disability to shape his entrepreneurial journey. If that’s not a Growth Warrior, I don’t know what is.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is one of the most well-known, influential and wealthy black women on this planet. Whether we’re talking about her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, her successful acting career, her company, Harpo Inc., her television network, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), or her general badass-ness as a media queen, everyone is well aware of her successes — and her legacy in the American media and beyond.

Her path to fame and success wasn’t easy, however. Oprah was born into poverty and sexually abused as a child, eventually leading her to become pregnant and give birth at the age of 14. The baby was born prematurely and died soon after his birth. That didn’t stop her from living the life she was destined to have. When she was 16-years-old, Oprah decided that she would succeed, no matter what, and concentrated on her education and public speaking. Despite all odds, she didn’t give up on herself, and as a result, she became the Oprah that we know and love today.

Oprah Winfrey, Daymond John and Amy Freeman are all Growth Warriors who decided to pursue their dreams, despite their challenges, and became leaders as a result. They are prime examples of resilience and grit, two qualities I believe are necessary for entrepreneurs. These Growth Warriors succeeded, with the help of their tribes, and now are committed to forging the way for others.

I hope that these stories inspire you in the way that they inspire me. Not only do they push me to work hard despite adversity, but they also reaffirm that anything is possible, especially for Growth Warriors!

Warriors, I want you to truly believe that anything is possible with hard work, resilience and great relationships. That’s one thing I love about Growth Warriors. We’re a tribe. We are there for each other, period. Yes, we’re there to support and encourage each other, but also to give feedback and help each other grow. Always be in pursuit of your hidden tribe, friends. You never know where you may find them.

RELATED READING

The Way of the Growth Warrior: 7 Non-Negotiable Skills to Scale Your Business in Uncertain Times
Download a free chapter today.

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