Andrew’s Blog: Face Your Demons

Often I find that when I hear a voice telling me I can’t do something, it is my own. Worse still, I often find that I am the only one who can hear it.

I used to find wherever I went; my demons accompanied me. So much so in fact that I am surprised they didn’t insist on me purchasing them a plane seat when I was travelling. Maybe they were concerned for my finances? What they were not concerned about was my mental health. 

When it came to my work, my demons filled me with doubts, fears and insecurities so regularly that I might as well have put them on the payroll. My demons were persistent. They worked round the clock, evenings and weekends, with the enthusiasm that you could only dream of finding in a colleague. My demons were both incredibly loud and invisible, like an angry ghost. In this article, I am going to be talking about facing our demons. 

In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed his nation as the 32nd President of the United States of America and said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”

What Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t know at the time was that he would soon have to lead his country into a World War and die in office. If he knew how his presidency would end, he would have started it with those fateful words. “There is nothing to fear but fear itself”. 

Fear is an essential part of the human experience. Doubts are useful. The voice that said, “this seems scary, start running away.” was vital when the thing in question was a tiger. The little voice that says, “I’m not sure you can do this” was helpful when the “this” was fighting with a mammoth. The little voices that make us question an outcome before we do something are why you can all listen to this podcast today. Those little voices have allowed the human race and each individual that makes up the human race to survive.

Those voices can, however, stop us from doing something we really can achieve. We have been listening to our doubts and our demons to our detriment. Today we are going to start speaking back to them. 

Many of you reading will know why I do what I do. My journey to becoming the businessman, coach, husband, and father I am today has accompanied my demons. My father died far too young. He died too young because he was working too hard. Too much, too young. Both an incredible song and terrible reality.

My father had his demons, and when he passed away, I am sure some of my father’s demons started hanging out with me. There is no easy way to face them. There is certainly no easy way to deal with them, but nobody said it would be easy, as we have touched on before. Most things that are worth doing are difficult. The fears and doubts might be telling you to run away. I am telling you to stop and to face those demons that tell you; you can’t. 

 

If you have listened to the previous episodes of my podcast, you will know that there are four foundations. I believe you can build a successful business without sacrificing your health, well-being and personal relationships. The four foundations; do the work, no excuses, always ready and speak the truth are not without challenges, and if you are anything like me, they are not without a voice telling you your time is better spent elsewhere. My promise to you is I live and breathe these foundations. I have built my life upon them, but I have had to face my demons to do so. 

When it comes to doing the work, the first foundation, I have had to face demons that tell me I will end up like my father. The first step I had to take was to work out that I didn’t want to end up like my father, but I was on the same path as him. Once I had come to that realisation, I then had to summon the strength and confidence to put things that would allow me to change the direction I was going in. The demons that said I wasn’t strong enough to change had to be met with strength from me. 

I came across a quote by Joseph Campbell. “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Your demons may tell you you can’t do something. Believe me, unless it is fighting a tiger, I reckon you can. Next time your demon tells you you can’t, I urge you to answer that you can. 

No excuses is the first foundation. An excuse is a demon’s press conference. It is the voice that says, “no, thank you and here is why…”. Again this is an instrumental quality when our lives and loved ones are endangered. It means we run away from fire, flood and creatures with sharp teeth. It is not good to be told by an inner voice that we might fail when we will not. If and when you hear that voice, I urge you to pause. Say, “thanks for showing up, thanks for trying to protect me, but I don’t need protecting this time.” and I hope that your demons, like mine, will be satisfied with this answer, even if it is only until the next time… Demons can be demonically persistent…

Being always ready is challenging when your demon is trying to prevent you from being so. Your demons might tell you that there is no point in being ready. It might tell you that there is no reason you should try and be ready. Again, at this point it is worth thanking them for the thought, but still aiming to be ready. I am certainly not the first person to say this and I’m paraphrasing the original quote, but here goes…” Courage is not the absence of fear. It is being scared and doing it anyway.”

The fourth and final foundation is speaking the truth. Telling the truth to yourself is difficult. Speaking the truth to your demons might feel almost impossible, and it is at this point, I would like to impart some wisdom I have learned from an incredible woman called Emily Eldredge. Your demons are trying to protect you, even now. They want your attention, and they want your love. When facing your demons, could you not do it with aggression? 

Fighting fire with fire is a phrase and not a good piece of advice. If you have ever accidentally left a tea towel on the hob when you’re cooking and, instead of getting a damp cloth, ran to get a box of matches, you will know this. 

When facing your demons, do not meet them with the fear they put in you. Meet your monsters with kindness. Thank them for their concern, but say you’re going to keep trying anyway. The success you seek in your business and in your life comes with its challenges; you don’t need to stand in your way. 

I think FDR was incorrect when he said, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” There is plenty to fear, but we should keep trying, anyway.