How Entrepreneurs Can Have a Spartan Mindset
Humans instinctively know how to fight. If someone comes up to you and tries to punch you in the face, you’ll reflexively try to block or dodge the attack. People forget this. Society has dulled this instinct by coddling people and constantly lowering expectations.
The good news is that you still have that fighter instinct in you. That fighter instinct is the foundation to having a Spartan mindset. For most entrepreneurs, the difference between massive success or failure depends on their mental toughness. In fact, you really don’t need to “create” a Spartan mindset at all. That’s not the point.
The point is to be disciplined and structured so that those natural fighter instincts can come charging out of you. Those fighter instincts will help you rapidly grow your business and overcome any challenges or adversity along the way.
The ancient Spartans understood this, and their modern equivalents understand it, too. Here's how to have a Spartan mindset by looking at both.
1. Look at the ancient Spartans.
The Spartans were the greatest fighting force of the ancient world. Just look at their most famous battle, the Battle of Thermopylae. In that battle, 300 Spartans held off several thousand of the greatest warriors in the Persian empire.
How did they do it? They did it through discipline. They were fierce warriors, but they weren’t berserkers. They didn’t let their emotions run wild and take control of them.
Their code taught them to fight in a state of calm determination and to never give up. And, while they were certainly willing to die for their country, they focused more on their desire to live and return to their families. They fought with the mindset that victory is a requirement, not something that “might work out.”
What the ancient Spartans did was quite simple: They out-trained every other army in the world. They had greater discipline and greater focus, so they unleashed more of that raw human fighter instinct than their enemies did.
That’s why you don’t need another “hack” or “shortcut” to achieve success. You just need to be relentless. You need to put systems and structure in your business. When you have structure, it takes you out of decision-making mode (which is in your head) and puts you in action mode (which is in your gut).
Your fighter instincts are in your gut, too. Get out of your head, get into your gut and your business will grow.
2. Look at the modern Spartans.
I’ve read over a dozen books from Navy SEALs, who are truly the Spartans of the modern world. In every story, there’s nothing exceptional about the guy who becomes the Navy SEAL. The training is what creates the SEAL.
Ever heard of Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule? That’s where Navy SEALs get started. That’s just their training wheels. For example, when the Navy first formed the famous SEAL Team Six, they had more training ammunition per month than the entire Marine Corps. By the way, SEAL Team Six only had 75 shooters at the time.
In his book, The Operator, Robert O’Neill talks about “Hell Week,” which is the most intense part of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training (BUDS). During Hell Week, the trainees go five-and-a-half days with no sleep. They also “sugar cookie” themselves. That means they get in the ocean and roll around in the sand until their whole bodies are covered in a salty, sandy crust. If any part of the body is sand-free, including the eyelids, the trainees get punished and have to get back in the sand.
The point of this is to teach those trainees that stress is a choice. BUDS deliberately puts them in these terrible circumstances to re-condition their minds. The trainees learn to focus on the outcome of the mission, not the immediate stress and the pain and the chaos. That way, when they are out on the battlefield, and bullets are flying, they can focus purely on getting the job done.
It’s that sheer level of training and discipline that allows those natural fighter instincts to come back out. You can apply this same principle to your business. It will give you greater focus and help you take greater action on the things that will make you more money.
If you haven’t put in your 10,000 hours of entrepreneurial training, keep going. And if you already have put in your 10,000 hours, keep going, because you’re just getting started. You still have so much more money to make and so many more people to help.
3. Look at how I got a Spartan mindset.
Let me be fully transparent with you: I did not always have a Spartan mindset. I used to emotionally react when I ran into challenges, and my business suffered for it.
Related: How Resilience Led Me to Success
If you’ve ever tried to make a serious change to your attitude or mindset, then you know it’s not just a switch you can flip on or off. That’s why the Navy SEALs and the Spartans had such intense training -- it’ the only way to break people out of their default thoughts, habits, and behaviors.
If you want, you can throw yourself into the deep end and force your thoughts and behaviors to change quickly. There are coaching programs that simulate the intensity of military training. Many entrepreneurs have gotten huge business results from those.
Or, you can do what I did: I practiced emotional control on the small things so that I could build up to staying calm under real chaos.
Let me give you an example: A few years back, I took my car through the carwash and the machinery malfunctioned. Something flew loose and it made a big ugly scratch on my car. As soon as I got out of the carwash, I got swarmed by attendants apologizing and offering to call in a repair guy.
Now, wouldn’t you be angry if you went through the car wash and they smashed up your car? I was! But, here’s the thing: I realized that if I blew up at those guys and waited for their repair dude to show up, I would lose control of my day. I would no longer get to spend that time building my business.
So instead, I calmly told them, “No, thank you,” and drove my dinged up car back to the office. I got back to work, grew my business, made more money, and I just took care of the car situation later.
And by doing things like that, I built up the emotional control to deal with real chaos in my business. I recently had to part ways with one of my VPs. Everyone in the office was very close with him, and it hurt us all to see him go. Plus, we had to figure out how to hand off his workload.
In the middle of all that, I reminded myself that stress is a choice. I still had a mortgage to pay, marketing costs to pay and payroll. I wasn't going to turn to my team and say, "Sorry guys, I need to put your pay on pause for a week while I collect myself."
So instead, we moved forward. We carved up his workload, gave it to the appropriate people on the team, and went back to making money.
I may not be a Navy SEAL, but I do have a Spartan mindset that allows me to keep growing my business under any circumstance. That’s what I want for you too.
Take the emotion out of your decisions, focus on the outcome of growing your business, and be relentless about how you spend your time and energy. That is what it means to be a modern-day Spartan, and it’s the best thing you can do to grow your business empire.
Related Video: Tactics for Resilience in Combat and Life