I admit, the first analogy I came up with was “How personal development is like an ogre” and then I had the scene from Shrek playing in my brain. You know the one where they are comparing Ogres to parfaits and onions? Yeah, that one. The more I thought about it, the more I could see that personal development through working on our mindset is like an onion. Let me explain.


Yes, I had to start here. Remember, I’m working from a Shrek analogy here.

Just when you think you have one layer sorted, you peel it back and reveal another layer. That’s the same with mindset work in small business.

When I was first addressing my personal fear of success, which was holding my business back, I thought I had all the stories set. Little did I know that the further I dug and poked around in there, the more stories I found. Our brain loves stories & it uses it to fill in gaps. We have our favourite stories that we play over again but sometimes there are those repressed ones, deep in that dark corner, that our brain can dig up for us.

So that’s why when I was working through my fear of success, it took almost a year. I had to sort out and address each of the stories I was telling myself.

My clients are no different. It’s often around disappointing other where there are layers of complexity and story.

reality of mindset work

It makes you cry.

OMG, the tears have flowed. It’s a good thing I keep a pack of tissues in my handbag because this work has a habit of making my clients cry.

They cry as they discover the crappy story they’ve been living by. They cry as we address it. They cry in relief when they are free.

When I’ve done the work on myself, I will cry and cry. It will hit me out of the blue when a piece of the puzzle falls into place and I come to the realization and am able to free myself from part of my old story.

I’ve cried for months when I was working on relationships and expectations around people.

Some people are allergic

Ok, so people aren’t allergic to doing personal development/growth/mindset work. They just avoid it, some like the plague.

Some people avoid it because they think they will react badly to it.

Some people will avoid it because they’ve had bad experiences in the past.

Some people try little doses to get used to it.

Doing the work really is an individual experience. But, the only way to do the work is in the doing.

Need help? I’ve got you. Let’s chat.

I’ve outgrown allergies and taken on new ones (true story) and doing the self-work is the same. Somethings I’ve outgrown and never had to address. Some things I can tolerate in small doses and over time I’ve been able to get through more. Some things make me sick to my core and while I can avoid them, I know it’s there and if not addressed it will be there forever and I need to be ok with that.

An acquired taste

I’m yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like onions, but I’m sure they’re out there. (Are you one of them?) Doing work on your personal development is much the same. And like overcoming an allergy little by little, over time, and with exposure we can become accustomed to the things we need to address and grow from.

TIP: This is where I find comparison can creep in.

Did anyone have a parent who made you eat something because a sibling loved it and were shocked to find out that you didn’t? (Just me then) They were comparing you. Be mindful of comparing your personal growth against someone else. You don’t know the stories they play in their head & you don’t know how willing they are to bite on their onion.

It can repeat on you

Ever eaten red onion only to regret it later because it’s repeating on you? Yup, working on your mindset can not only make you uncomfortable, like indigestion, but it can come back – time and again.

This is sort of like the onion analogy as a whole with layers of complexity and new issues coming forward. It’s also like Spanish onion in so far that it’s there to remind and almost haunt/taunt you until you deal with it.

TIP: The good thing about working on your mindset is that, unlike antacid, it doesn’t suppress things and keep them shoved down.

It’s like going toe to toe with that red onion and taking its acid warts and all. Living with the discomfort. Acknowledging it’s there. Knowing that with time, patience, and going through the discomfort and symptoms you will come out the other end. The good thing is that unlike a Spanish onion, once completely dealt with, that issue won’t cause you indigestion again.

reality of mindset and personal growthThere are different types

We each battle our own demons, our own mindset challenges and there are different onions. The beauty is that one is no more or less important, challenging, better or worse than another. They are unique and uniquely ours.

Bitter sweet

Cook an onion a certain way and it goes from being this acrid bulb which makes you cry to the sweetest and most tender thing you can’t get enough of. (If you’ve ever had or made and incredible onion soup or tart, you’ll know what I mean)

Growing and challenging our mindset through stages of personal development can take the unpalatable and tear-jerking parts and through patience, dedication, and work they can become the most tender parts of ourselves.

Better still, when we are done we can become the most delicious versions of our past selves, some might say even better versions. (I prefer different)

What coaches don’t tell small business owners about doing mindset work

Through my years of challenging myself and my mindset:
– I have been lost, I have not known where to turn or what I was becoming. It was a time where I had to be patient and not try to hurry things along.
– I have endured great pain as I came to accept people as they are and not what I expect them to be and I had to realise that I would lose them and that had to be. And then I had to mourn.
– I had to deconstruct myself so that I could reconstruct and become more.
– I learnt to be ok with nothingness and stillness.
– I outgrew people.
– I began to learn who I was, now, and again, and I am learning to like that me.

These are the hard realities of doing the work when you run a small business. You do it and you still have to keep the business running.

It takes months to grow an onion. I want to hear from you how you feel about personal development and mindset growth. Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

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