Overcoming Challenges in Personal Development: Insights from Business Leaders

By Greg Grzesiak Greg Grzesiak has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on October 20, 2023

Personal development is a journey fraught with challenges. To help you navigate this path, we’ve gathered insights from thirteen professionals, including Life and Career Coaches and founders, who have faced and overcome significant obstacles. From understanding personal values to control reactions, to overcoming insecurities to start a new profession, these experts share their experiences and strategies for personal growth.

  • Understand Personal Values to Control Reactions
  • Heal Past Trauma for Personal Growth
  • Triumph Over Physical Disability Through Clarity
  • Improve Public Speaking Skills as an Introvert
  • Find Personal Success Beyond Expert Advice
  • Balance Learning and Creating for Personal Development
  • Change Perception Through Self-Awareness
  • Fight Through Self-Doubt and Imposter Syndrome
  • Escape Toxicity to Discover Personal Value
  • Use Forgiveness as a Path to Personal Growth
  • Separate Personal Value from Career
  • Navigate Cultural and Professional Shifts
  • Overcome Insecurities to Start a New Profession

Understand Personal Values to Control Reactions

A significant challenge I faced was when I realized I was being overly reactive to situations or decisions at work that I did not agree with. This made me question myself, my capabilities, and my place in the corporate world. Why did I react so strongly to certain situations or behaviors? I wasn’t seeing others responding in the same way, so I concluded there must be something wrong with me.

Over the years, experience and maturity taught me to do a better job of self-managing, so my reactions weren’t as apparent, even though their impact remained. It was during my coach training that I understood what the trigger was. It was my values—the guardrails that shaped what was most important to me.

I learned that when my values were being honored; I was in flow. I felt full in my power, and I had access to my peak performance. When my values were not being honored, that’s when those reactions overtook me. Anger, frustration, and disbelief could shut me down with little notice.

Jennifer LeeJennifer Lee
Life and Career Coach, Up Front Coach

Heal Past Trauma for Personal Growth

In my personal-development journey, I faced a pivotal challenge: striving for a better life amid past trauma. Trying to build success while entangled in my trauma was like constructing on quicksand—unstable and unattainable. Recognizing the need to heal first, I broke free from my abusive past. The healing process was a tough climb, involving therapy, self-discovery, and a support network. As I confronted my past, a compelling vision for my future as an entrepreneur and coach emerged, guiding me even in my darkest moments.

The lesson is that personal growth requires healing and self-awareness. You cannot build or create on top of your unhealed trauma. Prioritize your well-being, seek support, and know your past doesn’t define your future. Your journey may be challenging, but your resilience will lead to the life you envision.

Kathryn DaweKathryn Dawe
Women Empowerment Coach and Leadership Strategist, Kathryn Dawe

Triumph Over Physical Disability Through Clarity

I survived the Poliovirus when I was six months old. It took away my ability to walk and left me permanently disabled for life. I have gone from crawling on the floor, to wearing iron-clad leg braces, to walking with crutches.

During my journey to conquer my disability, I learned that to move forward in life; you don’t need motivation or inspiration. All you ever need is clarity. Once you have holistic clarity about your limitations, you don’t need any external or internal reinforcement to motivate you.

To get unstuck from adversity, one needs to understand their limitations and do something about them. I followed three mantras:

  1. Look beyond the limitation itself—not just the limitation
  2. See the full picture inside and around the limitations, including other good things I have
  3. See limitations in context, how they were influencing my life.

That’s how I leveraged my disability to become an award-winning scientist, authored 50 books, and earned 2 doctorates.

Dr Raman K. AttriDr Raman K. Attri
Accelerated Learning Scientist, GetThereFaster

Improve Public Speaking Skills as an Introvert

As an introvert, I was shy about public speaking. I was not the only one, as my boss asked me to find ways to improve the presentation skills of the entire data science team. I checked out the Toastmasters club within my company as a possible solution.

Although speaking at the first club meeting was daunting, I stayed in Toastmasters for over two years, pushing myself to actively learn and practice public speaking and to accept higher levels of leadership. Having gained public speaking skills and a reputation, I later got invited to speak at additional venues, including a podcast, a university seminar, and a business conference, all of which helped my career grow.

For all of us who aspire to become better leaders, including introverts, we can go to Toastmasters to learn to communicate better and inspire people to action.

Jimmy WongJimmy Wong
Entrepreneur and Coach, AI Jimmy

Find Personal Success Beyond Expert Advice

There have been many challenges, but one of the most significant that I have faced has been trying to emulate the advice all the so-called experts gave. There were experts who said you needed to cut out all forms of entertainment. This included television, music, movies, and more. I took their advice and ran with it.

Their advice worked for a while until I realized I wasn’t happy or successful. I was miserable. I began to slowly reintroduce entertainment into my life but with a twist. I began to look at entertainment as a way to teach and grow my skills. This has revolutionized the way I do business, write, and lead.

Joseph LalondeJoseph Lalonde
Leadership Coach and Author, Reel Leadership

Balance Learning and Creating for Personal Development

There are two significant hurdles one can face on their personal development journey:

  1. Retaining and applying the lessons learned from research, learning, and coaching.
  2. Knowing when it’s time to stop consuming and start creating.

For #1, I kept notebooks with lessons learned from each book, podcast, interview, etc., I consumed. But, highlighting and taking notes is not enough. I reviewed those notes each week at the same time and then the ones that directly applied to my journey were easily retained and usually inspired some content.

For #2, I find it to be the hardest for people. Personal development and learning are absolutely addictive. But those successful people that you look up to do not spend all their time watching YouTube, listening to podcasts, reading books, attending conferences. They are busy working. Making videos. Recording podcasts. Writing books. Speaking at conferences.

So there comes a time when you must put down the book and pick up the pen.

Rain BennettRain Bennett
Filmmaker, Author, Storytelling Coach, Six Second Stories

Change Perception Through Self-Awareness

One significant challenge I encountered in my personal development journey was the realization that I was perceived as unapproachable because of my facial expressions and body language. This revelation came as feedback from my manager, who happened to be the VP at the time. It was a pivotal moment in my career, and overcoming this challenge required self-awareness, dedication, and a willingness to change.

The first step in addressing this challenge was acknowledging the feedback and taking it seriously. Initially, I was taken aback and somewhat defensive, but I respected my manager’s opinion and understood that this perception could hinder my professional growth. I confronted this issue head-on.

Self-awareness played a critical role in my journey. I paid close attention to my facial expressions and body language during interactions, especially with my team and the Regional Manager. After several months, I could see the difference in my interactions with the team.

Melissa PenningtonMelissa Pennington
HR Director

Fight Through Self-Doubt and Imposter Syndrome

One of the most significant challenges I encountered in my personal-development journey was overcoming self-doubt and imposter syndrome. When my co-founder and I started Total Shape—a venture aimed at promoting fitness and overall well-being—I often found myself questioning my abilities and feeling like I wasn’t qualified enough for the role I was undertaking. This self-doubt was paralyzing and made it difficult for me to make crucial decisions for the business.

I realized that this was a common struggle many entrepreneurs face, especially when venturing into uncharted territory. To overcome this challenge, I adopted several strategies. Firstly, I acknowledged my feelings of self-doubt and accepted that it was a natural part of the entrepreneurial journey. It was crucial to understand that everyone, even the most successful individuals, faces moments of insecurity.

Isaac RobertsonIsaac Robertson
Co-Founder and Nutritionist, Total Shape

Escape Toxicity to Discover Personal Value

Back in 2017, I was working for a toxic company. I left that position with nothing lined up. I was interviewing at a new company that I had a good feeling about, but in the end, that didn’t work out. Three days after I left my job, I broke all three bones in my left ankle. It left me without a job and unable to walk, but to add insult to injury, I was in an unhealthy relationship. I spent the next three months unable to walk and being subjected to hours of ridicule. There was no path for escape.

It takes the lowest of the lows to know you need help, and even then, it wasn’t easy. I started doing things for myself. I joined a book club, went to Al-Anon meetings, and found my voice. I learned I had a choice, and I got out of the relationship while getting a new job as well.

It took me to the deepest despair of my life to the greatest achievement. I’ve learned my value in work and in love and can let anyone know who might go through these situations—there is a way out.

Pamela AbreuPamela Abreu
Director of Client Relations, 5K.co

Use Forgiveness as a Path to Personal Growth

Forgiving the people who hurt me was the biggest challenge I faced in my personal growth. It’s well-known that forgiveness is key to healing and that you should forgive someone more for yourself than for them.

However, it felt like I was saying that what happened was okay, or that what was said didn’t matter. And that was not true. Eventually, I did forgive the people I felt negatively about when I realized that it would give me my power back. I wanted to get out of my victim identity, and this meant that I couldn’t define my life story by the words and actions of a few people.

So, I forgave people because my story goes beyond the impact they made. And so I could move on and create more chapters with other people and the lessons I learned. I realized I was too big to be eaten up by lack of forgiveness. And this led to a lot of healing and empowerment that has made me happier and stronger than ever.

Debashri DuttaDebashri Dutta
Founder, Dmdutta.com

Separate Personal Value from Career

A significant challenge I faced in my personal-development journey was separating my value as an individual from my career. It took me a long time to realize that my value as an individual was not tied to my job, my businesses, or my investments.

I think it is extremely common for all of us to define ourselves and our value by the above-mentioned metrics. I’ve learned that this is not only unhealthy but also counterproductive to success.

How did I overcome this? Well, I quit my job as a commercial real-estate broker and traveled the world. I know this may not be practical for everyone, but this is what worked for me. Before I did this, I would have sworn I’d be in that industry my entire life. I let it define me and, truth be told, I was miserable.

While traveling, I realized that all the things I thought defined my value as a human—career, money, success, etc.—were irrelevant in my interactions with others. The importance of my career existed in my mind only.

Joshua VehovicJoshua Vehovic
Co-Founder, TJ Ventures

Navigate Cultural and Professional Shifts

In my journey from a stable finance job in New York to entrepreneurship in Asia, the cultural and professional shift was daunting. Leaving the familiar for the unknown in Guangzhou, China, I felt the weight of proving my decision right.

To navigate this, I formed an accountability group with fellow expats, setting weekly goals and pushing each other. I adopted a “learn-by-doing” approach, diving into ventures like content writing and dropshipping. Key lessons were to find a supportive community, embrace hands-on learning, viewing failures as growth opportunities, and staying anchored to my core reason for change; it’s your guiding light.

Harrison BevinsHarrison Bevins
Founder, Oak & Rove

Overcome Insecurities to Start a New Profession

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. I lost my job that day and did not understand what to do next. There was panic in the country, and many people were left with nothing.

Nevertheless, life went on, and it was necessary to move forward. That’s when I decided that I wanted to pursue a new profession and work in IT. The biggest challenge was overcoming my insecurities and self-doubt while starting something from scratch.

The primary factor that helped me to get over that challenge and begin learning in a new field was my vision of the future and my strong decision not to accept whatever life handed me. Take control of your destiny and be surprised by the results. Be the architect of your fate, not a mere observer.

Dmytro RodionovDmytro Rodionov
Digital Marketer, Elai.io

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By Greg Grzesiak Greg Grzesiak has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Greg Grzesiak is an Entrepreneur-In-Residence and Columnist at Grit Daily. As CEO of Grzesiak Growth LLC, Greg dedicates his time to helping CEOs influencers and entrepreneurs make the appearances that will grow their following in their reach globally. Over the years he has built strong partnerships with high profile educators and influencers in Youtube and traditional finance space. Greg is a University of Florida graduate with years of experience in marketing and journalism.

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