4 Mindset Shifts Essential to Being a High-Performing Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
Have you heard that 80 percent of success is mindset? Listen to any top performer speak about their success, and the topic of mindset will usually arise in some form or another.
Can you achieve success without having a strong mindset? In my experience, the answer is yes. To a certain extent. But there will invariably be an invisible glass ceiling that you just can’t seem to get beyond. What that might look like varies from person to person. Maybe the successes that you do have will not bring you joy or satisfaction, but instead will create a sense of emptiness. Or you achieve what you set out to do, but at the cost of your mental health or your relationships. Or you act in a way contrary to your values.
As Robert Glazer says in his book Elevate, “when you see two people of equal intellectual and physical capacity achieving different outcomes, it is likely to be due to an imbalance in emotional capacity. For most, it is the missing piece in our quest to build capacity and it is often the most difficult.”
The highest performers in the world realize that their self-improvement work is never done. Those who neglect this will never reach their true potential. Mediocrity is the realm of those with a fixed mindset.
So, what can you do (or not do) to develop the mindset of a high performer?
Don't bury your head in the sand about mental health issues
Pushing through mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, might seem tempting. You might think it's better to ignore the problem and throw yourself into action than to face the pain and inner turmoil and work through it. Who wants to really sit and feel depression?
We will often tell ourselves stories so that we don’t have to deal with it — it’s just a bad day, week, phase. It’ll pass. But it doesn't and before long, that feeling becomes your new normal.
This sweeping under the carpet is counterproductive – sooner or later, it will get to the stage where you can no longer ignore it, and where it will take longer to "fix." But if you recognize and accept the issue early on, make a commitment to feel what you need to feel, seek help from a qualified professional if you need it, get to the root of it and finally let it go, it will pass much quicker.
With this attitude, you can deal with things as they arise rather than bottling everything up and dealing with the destructive cumulative effect years down the line.
The philosophy that we should never quit is fundamentally flawed. Too many people waste too much time banging their head against the brick wall of something that they should have quit years ago, but they haven’t. Maybe because they were afraid what people would say, their ego told them not to or any number of other excuses.
What’s worse is that this philosophy often keeps us stuck in businesses misaligned with our purpose, our skills and talents and our "zone of genius." You will never be at the top of your game if you're doing something that is misaligned with who you are. Seth Godin talks about this in his book The Dip.
It takes work to find out what might be truly aligned to you and your purpose, but once you do this, you have the advantage of knowing your North Star. You are clear on what matters most to you.
Recognizing and being honest with yourself about when it's worth hanging on — and when you should quit — is crucial. When you’ve found something worthwhile (and you make a firm commitment to it), then, and only then, is it worth working through the low points and not giving up. When you make something a non-negotiable for you, it will happen. It is just a matter of time and commitment to the right things.
Resilience as an entrepreneur is crucial. You will be rejected a lot. You will face tough times. Without resilience, you will never get through the dips in the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship. You will give up, even if you are doing something completely aligned with your purpose. However, resilience does not mean carrying on at any cost while destroying your physical and mental health.
According to a Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience study, "Resilience is the capacity and dynamic process of adaptively overcoming stress and adversity while maintaining normal psychological and physical functioning.
In other words, as we develop our resilience, we are less and less affected by adverse events in our lives and are able to bounce back quickly, thereby having very little mental health impact. Easily said, not so easily done.
How do we develop resilience? It connects back to recognizing and addressing our mental health and how we react to external circumstances. We are hard wired to focus on the negative over the positive. Recognizing this tendency gives us the opportunity to reframe tests of our resilience into something more positive – learning and growth opportunities. We approach our challenges from a completely different mindset.
Recognize when you need to take a step back
You have two constructive choices to get through tough phases. Push through with action, or take a step back. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to take a step back. Maybe for a few hours, a day, or a week. If you are putting in the hours and taking action, and you still feel stuck, it’s time for a break.
You might think that if you know you’re doing the right things, living your values and your purpose, it’d be easy to live by them all the time. That’s not always the case. Life throws us curve balls.
Sometimes, when we go through a rough patch, it can be easy to lose sight of our why, and then our motivation and energy can start to wane. Fear and doubt starts to creep in. Taking the time to reconnect with yourself can be the much-needed boost of energy that you need to go forward, full steam ahead and with great results.