The only thing that is currently keeping your business and life from being where you want it to be, is YOU.
To be a little more specific, it’s that little chamber between your ears that has been the genesis and orchestrator of your entire life.
This might not totally sink in the first time you read it, because if you fully grasp this concept you should literally get chills down your spine.
So let’s have another go:
Your mindset is the only thing that stands between your current, and dream business & life.
The good news is you the day you decide to take radical responsibility for your mindset you start to control your destiny, rather than continuing to blame your market conditions, team, customers, lack of funding or resources, timing, competition or one of the myriad excuses that have likely tempted you with the promise of absolving you from the dirty work.
While this idea is becoming more and more accepted, most entrepreneurs have trouble connecting the multitude of decision points and issues they navigate with the corresponding mindset that determines how they react and how effective that reaction ends up being.
So what they end up doing is solving the wrong problem or getting stuck in the symptoms, which keeps them busy at the skill, tool, or strategy level, and fools them into a false sense of productivity.
Have you ever convinced yourself before that if you just gained a certain skill or acquired a certain tool or technology, your business would skyrocket?
Skills are pretty easy to gain, and so are tools – especially in a world where wherever you turn someone is trying to sell you something.
Perhaps not so easy though, is believing in yourself and your business, overcoming your fears and lack of confidence, or pushing through challenging times when your mindset seems to be enemy number one.
This is the real difference between the 1% of the most successful people and the rest: those elite few master the inner game of mindset and are able to be bold, decisive, strategic and proactive in the most uncertain of conditions.
If you ignore your subconscious, fears, limiting beliefs, negativity, and insecurities act as an emergency brake on your growth and prevent you from achieving your goals.
To challenge and change your mindset may seem difficult – but it’s not just possible but provides the highest ROI for the time and effort investment.
In fact, this is exact transformation I help my clients effect, with a tremendously positive impact on their life and business.
What is a Mindset?
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” — Mahatma Gandhi
This is what you need to know about mindsets:
- The word mindset was first used in the 1930’s to mean “habits of mind formed by previous experience.” In simple terms, mindsets are deeply held beliefs, attitudes and assumptions we create about who we are and how the world works.
- Mindsets are created from the distinctions we are able to make about our experiences. From our experiences, we make new stories about what those experiences mean. From these stories, we create new mindsets.
- Mindsets provide us with fragmented ways of looking at the world, never with complete facts of what is. We always see the world through the filter of our mindsets and our mindsets are always incomplete.
- Any attempt to shift our mindsets will be met by powerful opposing forces. An example of these forces is our tendency for confirmation bias; the searching for, and recalling of, information that reconfirms our pre-existing beliefs.
- We make our mindsets, and thereafter, our mindsets make us. Our thoughts, words and actions radiate out from our mindsets like ripples on the surface of a lake. If there is something we would like to change in our lives, we must also be open to shifting our mindsets.
The three basic mindsets
While everyone’s mindset is unique there are some common types that are useful to be aware of.
This includes the Fixed, Growth and Benefit Mindsets which reflect common beliefs people hold about the nature of learning and leadership.
Here are a few common mindset challenges the entrepreneurs I have worked with experience:
Fear of Failure
The fear of failure is so rampant because by definition as an entrepreneur, what you’re engaged in is an exercise in vulnerability. You’re putting yourself out there making decisions and there are people looking at you like you have all the answers. Who isn’t a bit afraid of looking foolish or like a failure? No one wants to be the one falling on the face.
But when you let those worries hold you back from what’s possible for you and your business you’re putting a limit on growth and success.
The degree to which you limit your growth is directly proportional to the size of your comfort zone. For eg if you have a fear of public speaking, you might be depriving yourself of reaching millions of people as an authority in your space.
Another way this manifests is in the form of risk aversion. You might have “played it safe” in partnerships, acquisitions, marketing campaigns or how relentless you are in selling. Can you imagine how much opportunity this fear might be costing you?
If you wait to be sure, you’ll be waiting for a long time, and the market conditions will change much sooner than the certainty appears. Humans are hardwired to seek certainty. That said, entrepreneurship is primarily an exercise in uncertainty. You are literally being rewarded for solving a problem in a new way, like no one else has.
You are being rewarded for taking on risk.
The need for certainty is the number one business killer worldwide.
The truth is, the only way to know for sure – is to try. So look for teeny tiny ways to move forward when you fear failure or foolishness. And know this. You will recover, even if “it” (whatever that biggest fear is) happens to you.
Fear of Change
Human beings are wired for homeostasis.
That’s a fancy way of saying that you are programmed like things to stay the same and your brain has been conditioned by evolution to interpret change as dangerous.
For your ancestors, change meant a dangerous weather phenomenon, a predator, loss of resources or a similar catastrophe, and to ensure survival, the brain incentivized the continuity of shelter, resources and safety. The flipside of this is that it disincentivized change.
This is why when you try to leave your comfort zone, your brain exerts a strong gravitational field, desperately trying to avoid the unfamiliar, even if it makes you wildly rich and successful.
When you step outside your comfort zone, your brain creates anxiety in a misguided effort to keep you safe. Understanding this will help you recognize that the anxiety isn’t real. And then you can choose to move forward through the new experience and expand your brain’s safety zone.
Do you ever wonder when you will be found out?
Unmasked as the fraud that you are?
Unless you are really narcissistic or a sociopath, you’ve probably felt like a pretender at times. Those worries are all about the fear of being an imposter.
In the back of your head, you might wait for the hangman to serve justice, because you fear that you’re not good enough and that everyone else already knows it.
This is all too common because it’s incredibly hard to strike out on your own as an entrepreneur and have never-ending confidence!
Entrepreneurship involves forging a path where one doesn’t exist.
Success requires confidence in your vision and gut, but the humility to not be attached firmly to one’s ideas and pivot based on feedback from the market and customers.
There are going to be dips and valleys in your confidence level. But the trick is to take action anyway.
Fear of Success
Most people know about the fear of failure, but not many realize that many times it’s actually the fear of success that keeps you playing small.
After all, why would anyone be afraid of success?
Isn’t that what everyone wants?
Let me ask you this: have you noticed a pattern of self-sabotage when things are going well for you?
Fear of success is very sneaky and lurks in the subconscious mindset of many entrepreneurs. It can be traced back to beliefs we have about money (or people who have it) or fears around losing friends and family if we become wealthier or more successful than they are (or they expect us to be!)
It’s the invisible wall that you’re afraid subconsciously to get close to, because it comes with greater responsibility, attention, and unfamiliar terrain.
If you grow your business from 6 to 7 figures, you would have to most likely grow your team. Many of my clients have a fear of all these additional people being dependent on them – and it’s true – the additional money brings the responsibility of being responsible for many more people and their families.
Others fear being answerable to double or triple the number of customers than before, or needed to create a personal brand and being thrust deeper into the public eye.
Ask yourself what responsibilities come packaged with the success you seek.
Ask yourself if the thought of some of them cause you to tense up, and make you wonder how on earth you’re going to handle that.
Chances are, as long as you associate that aspect with tension and danger, your brain will continue to sabotage you to make sure that eventuality doesn’t become your reality.
If a lot of these resonated with you, and you’re feeling a little discouraged, I would like to offer the following perspective:
Awareness gives you the power to control your destiny.
You can’t fix a problem you aren’t aware of.
The more you realize that a fear of success is holding you back, the more equipped you are to diagnose the exact eventuality that triggers your brain and deal with it, and the higher your chances of success.
“We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.” — Buckminster Fuller
Let’s look at ways you can challenge those mindset issues and create the success you desire.
In life, you either succeed or learn something you didn’t know.
Failure doesn’t actually exist.
It’s simply an interpretation you put on an outcome that is contrary to what you want.
With most things you will try, if you wait to be certain of the outcome, you will end up minimizing the chances of success.
You don’t need to know the end result. You just have to try.
Rather than seeing the outcome as binary – either success or failure – try to always see the lesson it brings. Chances are, even what you term as failure contains clues that leads to the outcome you desire.
Sir James Dyson, British inventor and founder of the Dyson company, is a firm believer in failure as a path leaden with lessons. In fact, he sees it as an essential part of his success — a step toward a truly innovative solution.
When Dyson invented his first Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner, which hit stores in 1993, he spent 15 years creating 5,126 versions that failed before he made one that worked. The payoff was a multi-billion dollar company known for its creativity and forward-thinking designs.
According to him:
“Failure is interesting — it’s part of making progress. You never learn from success, but you do learn from failure. (When I created the Dual Cyclone vacuum), I started out with a simple idea, and by the end, it got more audacious and interesting. I got to a place I never could have imagined because I learned what worked and didn’t work.”
Allow yourself to think, “What if?” Consider the possibilities without any limitations. Don’t think about what you need to make something possible, not at first; just think about what is possible. Don’t worry about failure or the end result. Be an innovator and give it a try with every intent of learning from whatever the outcome is.
What if you could start seeing change as an opportunity in disguise? It may be an opportunity for more revenue, for business, or inner growth, or it may simply be an opportunity to learn.
The key is to make change feel safe to your brain, so it doesn’t become something that you subconsciously avoid at all costs.
When you say yes to change, you expand your boundaries and open up a whole new world of possibilities. This makes room in your life for something bigger.
Taking small steps outside your comfort zone will help you become familiar with change and eventually embrace it.
When you do, possibilities truly are endless.
Accept yourself at both highs and lows
Entrepreneurship is a process of constantly expanding what you feel is possible for you and the people you serve. It comes with ups and downs, and often we get carried away by the ups and crushed by the lows. This is because we become dependent on these external circumstances to dictate our internal state.
The highs and lows present an amazing opportunity to help us practice non attachment – and maintain an even keel of self worth and confidence – unshaken by what happens outside.
What if you could start to relax when you feel your confidence wane? What if that little dip didn’t mean anything?
Think about that for a minute. Life is filled with natural waves – ebbs and flows. Our confidence isn’t any different.
Stop struggling to be different than who you already are. Embrace yourself and your gifts. Play to your strengths. Lean into your brilliance. You’re not an imposter just because you don’t feel 100% confident 100% of the time. That’s actually a good thing. It means that you are not delusional.
Become the observer of how you feel, rather than being defined by it
Let those doubts and insecurities roll in and out with the tide. They’ll be back – that’s normal – but they don’t have to dictate how you act in your business or how you present yourself. Your true nature, your brilliance, is there all the time. Ride the waves instead of being pulled under by them.
Accept that perfection is a perfect illusion
In business and life there really isn’t such a thing as perfect.
It’s a false ideal that is a projection of expectations and self doubt.
Trying to be seen as the perfect boss, sell the perfect product or launch the perfect marketing campaign will exhaust you and won’t lessen the impostor syndrome you experience.
The only difference between someone who experiences impostor syndrome and someone who does not is how they respond to challenges.
Impostor syndrome expert Valerie Young, who is the author of a book on the subject, has found patterns in people who experience these feelings:
- “Perfectionists” set extremely high expectations for themselves, and even if they meet 99% of their goals, they’re going to feel like failures. Any small mistake will make them question their own competence.
- “Experts” feel the need to know every piece of information before they start a project and constantly look for new certifications or trainings to improve their skills. They won’t apply for a job if they don’t meet all the criteria in the posting, and they might be hesitant to ask a question or speak up in key situations because they’re afraid of looking stupid if they don’t already know the answer.
- When the “natural genius” has to struggle or work hard to accomplish something, he or she thinks this means they aren’t good enough. They are used to skills coming easily, and when they have to put in effort, their brain tells them that’s proof they’re an impostor.
- “Soloists” feel they have to accomplish tasks on their own, and if they need to ask for help, they think that means they are a failure or a fraud.
- “Supermen” or “superwomen” push themselves to work harder than those around them to prove that they’re not impostors. They feel the need to succeed in all aspects of life—at work, as parents, as partners—and may feel stressed when they are not accomplishing something.
Do any of these archetypes resonate with you?
Learning to value constructive criticism, understanding that you’re actually slowing your team down when you don’t ask for help, or remembering that the more you practice a skill, the better you will get at it can all help.
It can also be helpful to share what you’re feeling with trusted friends or a coach. Most people experience moments of doubt, and that’s normal. The important part is not to let that doubt control your actions.
The bottom line is that your mindset is 100% under your control.
Yes, it takes time to become conscious of your limiting thoughts and learn how to change them. But the effort is well worth your time and energy, and the rewards are exponential.
You no longer need be held back from achieving your goals by fear, lack of confidence or self-sabotage.
Imagine how empowered you’ll feel when you control how you perceive events, how you respond to challenges, and how you interact with others.
Your mindset is your biggest asset.
It can keep you stuck in self sabotage, steer you away from opportunity, talk you out of your big vision or – be the force that helps fulfill your biggest dreams.
Upgrade your mind, upgrade your life.