7 Horrible Thoughts That Hinder Success
Getting control of your mind is one of the toughest challenges entrepreneurs face and something you will likely work on your whole life. It’s normal to have thoughts of doubt, go through moments of anxiety and to experience periods of struggle, however it’s crucial to your success to start proactively controlling your thoughts instead of letting them run wild.
Your thoughts determine your attitude and the way you approach situations, as well as how open you are to discovering solutions. As the Lao Tzu quote warns:
Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
It’s crucial you stop certain negative thoughts if you want to truly excel. Here are seven horrible thoughts that you need to be aware of that will hinder your success.
1. Resisting what is
Today is a result of decisions and actions (or lack of) you’ve taken to get to this moment. It’s neither good nor bad but simply is, and when you resist what is, frustration and bitterness seep into your mind.
Circumstances may help define our character but they never determine our success. Look at the many incredible stories of individuals who have overcome their circumstances by accepting in the moment what is, while proactively taking actions that could improve or change what might be tomorrow.
If you’re feeling resistance to what is right now in your life, try adopting a mindfulness or meditation practice. There are apps that will help you train your brain to be at peace with what’s happening now, while training you to simultaneously open your mind to the possibility of what might be tomorrow.
2. Passing the buck
Continually making excuses for where you’re at by blaming circumstances is a path to nowhere. Successful entrepreneurs know that blaming their staffs or co-founders, the economy or any other external circumstance is a mark of irresponsibility.
You are at the helm of your business and your life and only you can decide how to move forward. Don’t blame others for what’s happening today because by doing so you subconsciously affirm that you are in some way not accountable for your life.
Practice taking responsibility for the good or bad things that happen with your business and start constructively asking yourself how you can do things differently moving forward. There’s always something you can do to take accountability for what’s happening and always a way you can take action to correct things.
3. Playing the victim
Much like passing the blame onto others, the victim role is perhaps the most deadly to success. Victim thoughts include statements such as, “I wanted to start my business, but the economy was bad,” or “I tried to launch my business but we didn’t have the startup capital.”
An entrepreneur goes for what they want regardless of the economy, funding, resources or any other excuse. If you’re feeling like circumstances are picking on you, look for ways to turn those thoughts around immediately.
Google the stories of inspirational leaders such as Louis Zamperini or Tony Robbins, who overcame extraordinary setbacks and refused to think the thoughts of a victim. These powerful real-life examples can help you get perspective during hard times and remind you that you can overcome anything.
Thinking the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence will get you nowhere. Making comparisons between your achievements or failures and the success of others is dangerous thinking.
One practice you can try if you’re prone to comparative thoughts is to think of life in terms of a series of films playing at a theater. Each theater is showing a unique film with its own plot and pace. When you compare your life to others, it’s like you’re walking into two films that started at different times and wondering why one is just beginning and the other is already at the “happily ever after” ending. One film isn’t better than the other, they’re just different stories and you’re seeing them at different points in time.
Stop comparing and be happy with letting your film unfold in its own time.
5. Worrying what others think
Great entrepreneurs don’t pay attention to what others say or think about them. This isn’t an excuse to be a jerk, but it is permission to not pay attention to what the rest of the world is doing or saying.
If you care what others think of your ambitions or pay attention to the world’s opinion of you then you could be tempted to listen to others who might discourage you. Don’t put much stock in what other people are saying about you and your business.
There’s a great quote from James Baldwin that sums this idea up beautifully:
Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.
Stop paying attention to what others say and be the one who does it anyway.
On the flip side of worrying too much about what others think is the equally destructive thought pattern that says, “It’s my way or nothing.” While entrepreneurs must be leaders and you certainly have to take command of your business, if your ideas are the only valid ones, then you’ll probably miss out on innovations.
Being flexible in your thought patterns can open you up to improvements and possibilities that can make your business better. It’s not that everyone’s ideas will be followed but if you create an environment where the only welcome thought at the table is your own, then you’ve created a dictatorship. Be open to new ideas.
If you keep putting things off today and pretend that you will do them tomorrow, you aren’t going to get very far. Keep thoughts of procrastination at bay by reminding yourself that tomorrow isn’t a guarantee.
Entrepreneurs operate with a sense of urgency, and that’s important for driving your business toward success. If you’re prone to thoughts of procrastination, consider writing down and living by this beautiful poem by Kalidasa:
Yesterday is but a dream, tomorrow is only a vision. But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Tomorrow may bring a whole new set of challenges you’ll need to address, so avoid putting off today thinking you can tackle it tomorrow. Be in an action-oriented mindset to move steadily toward success.
Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.