If you pay any attention at all to the social world of entrepreneurship, then chances are you've come across the name Lewis Howes. A former professional Arena League football player, Howes transitioned from athletics to business by building his own personal brand and business, and then positioning himself as an educator for others who want to learn how to be successful entrepreneurs. On his podcast, The School of Greatness, listeners can learn from some of the world's most renowned leaders from an assortment of industries. Howes has become one of the ultimate content curators.
But Howes' story is unique in itself. And while he spends so much time interviewing other people, he has long kept to himself the challenges he has faced on his own entrepreneurial journey, and the vulnerabilities that come with standing on his own two feet.
It's a tried-and-true quality of most entrepreneurs. To forge your own way in life is to, essentially, admit to the world both everything you want and everything you're afraid of. Too many people reduce entrepreneurship down to this churn and burn pursuit that expects little except a relentless work ethic. And while that might be true, ambition and a high threshold for pain are absolutely prerequisites for being a successful entrepreneur, it's far from the whole story.
In fact, many successful entrepreneurs will tell you that the journey taught them so much about themselves, and challenged them to grow in ways a regular 9 to 5 job never would.
There are plenty of podcasts and resources out there that highlight the shining moments on the road to success, but the ones that dig into the honest, humbling, and often reflective moments are few and far between.
One podcast that works hard to highlight these moments is Chris Farrell's 'Setbacks and Success.' On this podcast, he digs into the challenges each entrepreneur had to face before achieving that prized title of being "successful."
Before Howes was a recognized face on a glossy new hard cover, his 2015 book, The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy, he was just like the rest of us in our quiet beginnings.
Lost, is a good word for it.
He shared that he was constantly placing in the bottom of his class, and was even moved into special needs courses for his challenges with reading and writing. Moving into his 20s, he battled with depression, and for a period of 18 months lived on his sister's couch. And, in a moment when he finally realized just how much anger he had held inside of him, he erupted one day during a recreational game of basketball. After a foul, he lost it, put another player in a head lock, and beat him until he was blooded and forcefully pulled away.
To hear Howes tell it, you can hear how unfortunately transformative that moment was. On the one hand, it was a wake-up call to himself, and the catalyst for years spent working on self-development. But on the other, it was a sad moment, and costly to another person.
But what it has taken Howes a long time to discuss publicly is the fact that when he was just 5 years old, he was raped by his babysitter's son--a man he did not know. This traumatic event during early childhood was one he struggled to understand and deal with for the majority of his life, and has since realized that he needed to be vocal about the experience--not just for the benefit of others, but for himself.
These moments of vulnerability are rare in the world of entrepreneurship, and that's what podcasts like Farrell's 'Setbacks and Success' look to amplify. Because the truth is, no entrepreneurial journey is easy, and every single person who achieves their version of success had to walk through a hundred rings of fire in order to get there.
Stories like Howes' show that being a success story is not just about having the fancy cars, the nice house, the gold watch or the crisp suit. Being a true success story is also about being honest about how you got to where you are today, what obstacles you had to overcome, and most of all, how you overcame them.
For Howes, he has found comfort in vulnerability, and uses his personal brand as a medium to start more meaningful conversations among entrepreneurs all over the world.
In some sense, we should all strive for the same.