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How to Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset An entrepreneurial mind would look at the game differently

By Jayanth Sharma

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Consider a game of football.

The best proponents and strategists of the game are the ones who know how to use their strengths and skills to help them win. They ask themselves this question – "Given the rules, what should I do to win?"

An entrepreneurial mind would look at the game differently. It would ask more penetrating questions, and wonder what the purpose behind the game was. If the game is meant to entertain an audience, why should the ball ever come down to the field? Why can't it have rockets, and be guided by drones?

In effect, an entrepreneur's response is – "Rules? What rules? Forget that – this is what I should do to fix the problem."

An entrepreneurial mindset is characterized by the critical, analytical, and fundamentally disruptive perspective that it brings to the world. However, this isn't necessarily an innate ability – like with many other perspectives, it is something that can, and should be learned by all those with entrepreneurial dreams. Making the "switch' to an entrepreneurial mindset can be challenging. Recognizing the required shifts in mindsets and how they can contribute in making you a better entrepreneur is vital; with that in mind, here are some changes in your thinking that you should consider.

Fear makes you grow, not shrink

Fear is one of the greatest motivators for the human mind. Fear of loss, pain, rejection, harm, and the unknown have prevented us from making many terrible decisions, from childhood to adult life. Being human involves growing up as part of various systems, the influence of which is often perniciously subconscious. Not conforming to the rules of the system – whether written down, or just socially understood – is often not an option we even consider.

An entrepreneurial mindset requires, first and foremost, an implicit understanding of these systems and their many flaws. The fear that drives others away from confronting its problems is what an entrepreneur uses to drive himself to innovate and work hard to fix the systems, and conquer the fear instead of succumbing to it.

Mistakes – avoidable errors or important lessons?

Errors of judgement and execution that are seen as calamitous mistakes have a strong impact on human behaviour. In business and commerce, mistakes are perceived to be costly exercises that are to be avoided as far as possible. Corporations and their systems will go to extreme lengths to avoid mistakes, often by preferring to avoid the situation or the activity that led to it. The goal is to never make mistakes, and be "perfect' in doing some small set of activities through innumerable repetitions, to make you…"perfect'.

Successful entrepreneurs never imagine that they are perfect and know it all. Their curiosity for knowledge and their motivation for self-improvement transcend any setback that a mistake can create. Mistakes are opportunities to understand yourself and the problems in your approach or your implementation. As long as your intentions are correct, making mistakes and persistently trying to resolve them lead to better growth as an individual.

Accept and circumvent walls, don't just stare at them

Daily life often makes us confront the many barriers that exist in reality. Employees will often complain about how they are unlikely, if ever, to reach an upper management position – an insurmountable wall. They will stress about these things, being caught in an emotional battle between their own aspirations and capacities.

Successful entrepreneurs accept that such barriers exist, but instead of stressing about them, they try to find better ways to get past or through them. Each wall represents an opportunity – it's a barrier for you and others, and finding a way through that wall is an opportunity waiting to happen. Keep searching for ways that accept the situation, but take cognizance of what you can control and seek to make the changes required to overcome and scale the walls, dig under them, or just blast right through them.

At a cliff? Get into base jumping

There are walls that stop your progress, and then there are cliffs. Large drops into gulfs and canyons of uncertainty, with the only guarantee of jumping in being massive amounts of pain and suffering. A normal mindset would face such an impasse and never conceive of making a leap of faith – the gap to the ground would be too daunting and scary.

An entrepreneurial mindset looks at a cliff and considers the implicit risk as an unbelievable opportunity. Like the sport of base jumping, entrepreneurs will do their research, understand the special tools they need, procure them and make a calculated risk – the payoff is an adrenaline-pumping ride that will bring you sheer exhilaration and happiness. Being risk-averse and avoiding such drops will never lead to the sense of achievement that a calculated leap of faith will.

My victory or the success of a movement?

Another constant from our childhood is our ego. It is the voice inside of us that constantly tells us how important we are, and fixes in us the belief that we are destined for greater things. Everyone has an ego, though the degree differs from person to person. How people react to their ego makes all the difference. For most, it is a negative factor – we find it threatening to be around people smarter than us, and will often strive to pull others down or present ourselves as better than we actually are.

Successful entrepreneurs, on the other hand, will react differently. They will appreciate the strengths of others, and opt to surround themselves with the smartest people they can find. They will recognize their own role in the process of creating something new, and will appreciate the contribution that each individual brings. For them, entrepreneurship isn't about achieving something great for one's ego, but about creating something beneficial for everyone.

Most importantly – there is no problem that can't be solved through human ingenuity. However, if you don't try, you will never come even close. Take a stand. Conquer your fears. Dig under walls. Jump off cliffs. Celebrate victory with a great team. Disrupt the world.

But first, disrupt your mind.

Jayanth Sharma

Co Founder & CEO, Toehold

Jayanth Sharma is the Co-founder & CEO of Toehold. 
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