Personal Growth Is The Biggest Long-term Predictor of Success in Business

by Michael Simmons on Mar 30, 2013

There is an interesting irony in life that I learned as a result of speaking at hundreds of entrepreneurship events…

The people who need to hear a message the most are exactly the people who are NOT proactively seeking it out or able to comprehend it. The people who need it the least always arrive first, sit front and center, nod at every word, stay after for questions, and stay in touch.

Isn’t that ironic?

How is that two people hear the exact same message or experience the same event and react completely differently. One person could be crushed. Another could be deeply inspired.

For example, one aspiring entrepreneur might hear NO and think they’re personally a failure. Another might see NO as a lesson learned; merely a pivot on the path to success.

What is the difference between the two?

The Knowledge/Money Fallacy

I would argue that the fundamental difference is that people are at different levels of personal growth. In other words, their underlying beliefs and frameworks are completely different.

We, as a society, dramatically undervalue personal growth, especially in the general education system.

The assumption is that the value of the knowledge is in the KNOWING of knowledge rather than its APPLICATION. The reality is that the application is the hardest and most important part.

In our own lives, we often strive to acquire knowledge without the underlying personal growth that would allow us to most effectively utilize that knowledge. When we constantly hit a wall, we don’t understand why.

When the jobs numbers are low, we focus on new skills for employees and more money (in the form of debt) for entrepreneurs rather than examining people’s frameworks and beliefs.

Due to the tools that are available, it is cheaper to start a business today than it has ever been in human history. The largest bottleneck to starting a business is no longer financial. It is personal growth.

However, the reality is that the overwhelming percentage of the population needs to change how they think about the world at a fundamental level in order to actually follow through on starting a business and getting customers. Of the people who do start, an overwhelming percentage of people need to dramatically alter their beliefs and frameworks in order to have any growth and not become a slave to their business.

Personal growth is hard to measure. It is hard to teach. It can take a long time. It is extremely emotionally challenging to go through no matter how much experience one has.

However, if we keep on ignoring it, many of the problems that we experience personally and as a society will never get solved.


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I'm the co-founder of Empact, one of the leading entrepreneurship education organizations in the world. I'm obsessed with understanding how we all can lead meaningful lives that have a positive social impact. I love probing into the truth of how we experience life. I believe that challenges are what make us grow the most, and I openly share my experiences. Continue reading…