Why Mindset Trumps Strategy Every Time

A successful strategy is more than just tactics and procedures. It must align with how you see your business and what is possible.

learn more about Dixie Gillaspie

By Dixie Gillaspie

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What we believe is possible and desirable are crucial elements in the successful implementation of a strategy.

Any strategy not informed by, and in alignment with, the prevailing mindset in the business will fail every single time.

When I was asked to contribute weekly to Entrepreneur I pulled out my "blog fodder" file and started listing topics on business strategy. I thought entrepreneurs wanted "strategy" and "how-to". I was sure that's what would be read, shared and taken to heart. After all, there is some fantastic strategy shared here. I figured since it I read it, like it and share it, then that's what I should contribute as well.

In a word, I was wrong. As it turns out, it's been my articles about mindset; beliefs, habits, perspective, and ideas, that have gotten the views, the shares, the comments and the emailed responses.

This is a thrill for me. It shows that we've come a long way from my early days in consulting when I was contracted to a national firm and told that if I got caught teaching any of that "fuzzy management stuff" my contract would be terminated immediately.

Related: To Be a Brilliant Leader, Mindset Is Everything (Infographic)

Coaching wasn't a recognized role in business back then. There were coaches for sports, or even for chess. But business owners had consultants, who focused on performance and production, not coaches who focused on development of the individual, or growing your business by improving the function of the gray matter between your ears.

But even when I was being told to ignore my observations and instincts I knew this about strategy; any strategy not informed by, and in alignment with, the prevailing mindset in the business will fail every single time.

As a consultant I knew that I could propose a solid strategy, backed up with a detailed action plan, and no matter how much lip service I got from my client and their team, I wasn't going to get results. Because if the mindset ran counter to the strategy they wouldn't put the energy into the action plan. Because if their belief system said the projected results weren't possible, they wouldn't trust any progress they made and they would sabotage the process before we reached our goals. Because in crisis, it's conditioning that determines behavior, not strategy, tactics or training.

Mindset determines your initiative, mindset determines your determination, mindset determines your investment, and mindset determines your behavior.

Strategy determines none of those things, unless your mindset says your objective is both possible and desirable.

Related: Finding Growth By Changing Your Mindset

The success of your strategy, in fact, not only won't determine your initiative, determination, investment or behavior – it is dependent on those factors. Without a winning mindset the most promising strategy is still doomed to failure.

We are taught, in business management, that when objectives aren't met we examine the strategy, we question the implementation of tactics, we analyze the procedures and systems, we ask who didn't do what they were supposed to do. All valid questions. But useless if the prevailing mindset doesn't support the strategy.

This is one reason a strategy that works for someone else who is in much the same industry you're in, selling much the same product or service as you, reaching much the same target market as you are trying to reach, won't work for you unless you share not only their business strategy, but also their mindset.

This is one reason that so many people enroll in one online program after another, or buy one "blueprint" product after another, or even hire one consultant or coach after another, and still don't have the success that their role model, or even other people using this model's system, will have. It's not that they necessarily have the wrong mindset, but that they have a different mindset than the people who are having success with that approach. That strategy doesn't align with the way they see their business, or even the world, and they won't take the initiative, have the determination, make the investment, or follow through with the action plan to make that strategy work for them.

So before you invest your time, money and energy in developing a new strategy, or buying another blueprint, or hiring another coach or consultant, take a good look at what goes on in the space between your ears. Because that is where all the secrets to success really live, and where your strategy really lives or dies.

Related: Cultivating The Mindset of a Successful Entrepreneur

Dixie Gillaspie

Writer, Coach, Lover of Entrepreneurship

Ever since she was a little girl, Dixie’s least favorite word was "can’t." It still is. She's on a mission to prove that anything is possible, for anyone, but she's especially fond of entrepreneurs. She's good at seeing opportunities where other people see walls, navigating crossroads where other people see dead ends, and unwrapping the gifts of adversity and struggle. Dixie also contributes to Huffington Post and is a senior managing editor for The Good Man Project.

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