How to Build the Right Mindset for Startup Success
Mindset matters. Whether you’re a founder, CEO, first-day-on-the-job newbie, or bold, would-be entrepreneur, if your mind isn’t right then your decisions aren’t right. And with suboptimal decision making comes suboptimal results. How you show up everyday determines how you tackle the challenges that come your way.
However, oftentimes what gets in the way is ourselves -- our thoughts and emotions. If you dislike public speaking, for example, what might go through your mind if asked to present in front of an audience is that little voice in your head saying something like, “I hate speaking. I’m not good at it!” Your heart skips a couple beats, your hands become uncomfortably moist so you pat them on your pants which doesn’t exactly help your self image and then you begin stammering. Congratulations, you’ve just entered the realm of weird.
Don’t let emotion get the better of you. Stay focused on what matters by learning to separate emotion from reason so you can focus on what you need and not be swayed by what you want. Here’s how:
Having the right mindset begins with identifying what you want. Without a clear picture of what winning looks like you’ll never know if you’re on the right path, which means you can’t course correct. Take the time to clarify what “success” looks like to you.
You might want to become more disciplined, improve your focus, or learn to talk to yourself more effectively (yes, self talk is a skill). Clarity creates two things. It creates meaning, and it creates guidance for you to focus on which allows you to better communicate not only with yourself but with your team as well.
It’s easy to take leadership, teamwork or any of those “soft skills” for granted, but without them a company wouldn’t exist. Get clear on what good leadership looks like; what effective teamwork looks like. When you know what right looks like, you can make immediate adjustments to get back on track even after they’ve gone wrong.
Make consistency a habit.
Being great at anything requires two things: consistency and effort. You have to do the work to be great, and you have to do it consistently. Muscle doesn’t build itself (trust me, I’ve tried). You don’t get stronger by doing some pushups whenever you feel like it. You improve by going to the gym consistently and doing the work to get stronger.
Leading a team or a company requires the same consistency of effort. You get better at communicating by communicating. You get better at focusing by focusing. You get better at working together by working together to get better -- and doing so consistently.
Now, while consistency and effort are two critical ingredients to crushing anything in life, so too is learning. After all, you can be as consistent and as diligent as you want, but if you A) don’t have a clear definition of success, discussed above, or B) don’t learn from past mistakes, then you’re only getting to the wrong place faster. Make learning a habit by consistently learning, and you’ll develop the mindset of constant improvement.
Suspend judgment to get stuff done.
I remember in first phase of BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training) an instructor giving us an example of the type of mindset that every SEAL has -- the type of mindset that gets stuff done. He told us that if he had to go run 25 miles right then and there because it was critical to mission success, he would. He would’ve done it not because he liked running or because he was ordered to, but because it was something that just had to be done.
The takeaway is that you don’t have to like everything you do. You just have to do it (whatever it happens to be). To really make an impact in your work or in life in general, suspend judgment. When you suspend judgment you forego any emotion attached to that judgment. Then, all you have left is action versus inaction, do or do not do. It’s not easy, but then again nothing good ever is. Do it anyway.
Being right in anything requires clarity, consistency and effort. There’ll be bumps in the road, no doubt, but those bumps are what make you better.