[Free Book Preview #26] Cultivate Your Mindset Because Success Is an Inside Job

Hey there, Freedom Seeker!

Welcome to the exhilarating big sky of small business entrepreneurship!

I wrote a book for you. This book reveals the Unbiased Small Business Research Formula developed from decades in the trenches of American Main Street and online business as a small business entrepreneur and a coach. Its objective is to help you become the successful creator of the new life you envision by objectively guiding you in researching and choosing the right business.

In the next weeks, I’ll share free sections of the book with you before it’s released for publication and available for purchase.


 

CHAPTER 11 – Cultivate Your Mindset Because Success Is an Inside Job

Failure is an inside job. So is success. If you want to achieve, you have to win the war in your thinking first. – Brian Tracy

In Chapter 10, we discussed that it is critical to pick the business that inspires you and delivers a life you love because it positively influences your mindset. In turn, your positive mindset is an asset to your business. Once the excitement of getting into your perfect business is over, however, it is easy to let setbacks, as they are bound to show up in any business,  derail your initial enthusiasm. Even with the best business fit, it takes conscious effort to maintain a positive outlook for the long haul. But here comes a powerful tool, drum roll, please. Your practice of the psychology of success gives you an extraordinary advantage in your entrepreneurial journey. 

Begin by Understanding How Our Mindset Works

Our mindset must be resilient and adaptable because, even with the best business match, we will encounter obstacles. Events in and out of our control will adversely affect us and our business. And if we step out of our comfort zone, as we must in order to grow, we will make mistakes—some small, others bigger. Fortunately, thanks to our innate ability to cultivate a growth mindset, we can turn these setbacks, mistakes, and failures into stepping stones.

It took me years of struggles, sleepless nights, and self-induced misery to understand that how I mentally approached my role as a business owner made all the difference. Especially in my early and younger years, I always sought the next place of “perfect,” the next moment where everything would be running smoothly without a hitch. Then something would happen, often when I was traveling: a client complaint, the erroneous publication of an ad, a computer crash, an employee no-show, a vendor that didn’t deliver on time, theft, embezzlement, facility failure, etc. I would get upset, blame someone or something, get stressed out, and lose sleep, making me (and others) more stressed. It wasn’t until I realized that each of these “dramas” was pointing to a possible improvement and I began to call these problems “teachable moments” that my life and business improved. This didn’t mean becoming complacent and laissez-faire. It meant that I became even more driven to learn and improve the systems and approaches in the business each time a glitch or a drama occurred. 

The term didn’t exist then, but today, we call this a “growth mindset,” and it begins with us, the small business leader.

What Does it Mean to Have a Growth Mindset Instead of a Fixed Mindset?

The term “growth mindset” was coined in 2007 by Dr. Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. One of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation, she focuses on why people succeed and how to foster this idea of success in schools.

Outside of school, there is no better theater to rehearse a growth mindset than entrepreneurship. Let’s examine mindsets, as identified by Dr. Dweck, how they affect our performance as business owners, and how we might cultivate the right mindset to succeed. 

A Fixed Mindset

According to Dr. Dweck:

In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or are not the best—it’s all been wasted. Real self-confidence is not reflected in a title, an expensive suit, a fancy car, or a series of acquisitions. It is reflected in your mindset: your readiness to grow. – Carol Dweck – Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

When faced with a challenge, a problem to solve, or an opportunity to step outside their comfort zone, someone with a fixed mindset will freeze and doubt themselves. Because they fear losing their status and wasting time if they try something and fail, they procrastinate or never take action. They worry about their attributes and doubt their ability to overcome obstacles. Am I smart enough? Do I know enough about x,y, and z? What will people think? Consequently, they often stay where it is safe and easy enough for them to succeed, missing out on opportunities to grow. They arrange their world to fit their current state. 

Does this sound familiar? It does for me.

When we have a fixed mindset, we stay stuck. The same lesson keeps reappearing until we learn it. We might find ourselves stuck in a miserable job or life condition while dreaming we could quit and start a business. We might find excuses or blame others to justify staying in a deplorable situation. While we could take a few risk-free steps to research the possibilities, like reading this book, taking courses, and working with a coach, we might claim we don’t have enough business knowledge, money, or time, we lack support from our spouse or parents, or the economy’s forecast is not looking good enough. 

Blaming others and events is assuming the role of the victim, as I did in my first business. A victim, however, has no power. As an entrepreneur, we cannot accept victimhood. In everything we do and everything that happens to us, we must accept 100 percent responsibility in order to grow, no matter how little talent, knowledge, luck, or resources we begin with. 

A Growth Mindset

Someone with a growth mindset experiences the same setbacks, lack of resources, knowledge, fears, and insecurities. They know they might make mistakes, but they view these setbacks with a growth perspective and the opportunity to learn and move toward progress.

Again, quoting Dr. Dweck:

“The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome. They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues.” 

No matter how perfect of a match you are with your business, unexpected challenges and events that threaten your business will appear. Difficult employees, unreasonable customers, or misleading vendors will derail you from time to time. Perhaps a pandemic, recession, inflation, or other unforeseeable event shows up.  

The reality is that each of these difficulties is a signal to do something better, fix a problem, or discover new options. From time to time, you’ll find that you caused difficulties with the imperfect decisions you made. Your hiring system may be flawed. Or you don’t have a system. Or you are not inspiring your team and need to learn to become a better leader.

If it is outside of your control, then look for the silver lining. There are always opportunities to uncover and changes to embrace. Having a growth mindset helps you learn, improve, and make progress. With a growth mindset, a business becomes your personal growth machine. 

Today, I am much better at handling challenges because I can usually recognize when I revert to my old limited and fixed self. This allows me to redirect and examine how I can use unpredicted situations to my advantage by learning from them and improving or pivoting from whatever caused them. It helps me overcome the fear of the unknown, the fear of failing, and the fear of what others will think of me. Every new project becomes an adventure. This book you are reading is an example of an adventure where I have to consciously practice a growth mindset. Despite my deepest insecurities, it has forced me to redirect my fears of putting myself out into the world and risking failure or criticism and instead consider the experience as an opportunity to improve.

Harnessing a growth mindset, I can concentrate on sharing what I know and love, understanding that it will help some people, and also realizing that not everyone will be receptive—and that’s OK.

How Can We Cultivate a Growth Mindset?

Many who succeed begin with little talent, knowledge, and capital. But they continuously grow, one step at a time. The Japanese call it kaizen, a word meaning change for the better or continuous improvement. The Japanese approach to business embraces a growth mindset. Kaizen allows them to deliberately evaluate all situations with a solution-focused perspective to help them grow their skills and business. In the same way, adopting the principles of kaizen makes us better leaders and managers. With a growth mindset, we can better weather the ups and downs of business ownership and have resilience. 

And a growth mindset can be learned. Once we intellectually understand the impediments of a fixed mindset and the benefits of cultivating a growth mindset in life and business, we can become aware of instances in our past where we have exhibited stagnation. 

Interestingly, we might exhibit a fixed mindset in some aspects of our lives and a growth mindset in others. It applies to our career, business, personal relationships, and how we view our health and wealth. We can recognize times when we held ourselves back because we didn’t embrace opportunities where we feared we might risk failure or imperfection.

Like every habit, it takes incremental progress to make our growth mindset become automatic. The key is self-awareness and our desire to improve. By recognizing our small victories and celebrating our efforts and progress, no matter how small, we can develop the habit of approaching business and life with a growth mindset. 

To succeed as business owners, we must continually protect, nourish, and cultivate our mindset as our most prized investment. It’s good for our health, and it’s good for our wealth. 

As you read this book, you have an opportunity to exercise a growth mindset by objectively researching the business that can serve you. This means keeping an open mind on your options and taking it one progressing step at a time. 

KEY CHAPTER TAKEAWAYS

  • Once you have identified the right business for you, you are on the right track to succeed. However, to stay positive in your approach to business ownership, it is essential to understand the mechanics of a sustained positive mindset. 

  • In the science of happiness and success, renowned psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck introduced the concept of a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset and how it affects performance in schools.

  • As small business entrepreneurs, we must also cultivate a growth mindset. It will support us in facing the challenges that undoubtedly will show up in the course of our careers as entrepreneurs. It will point us to opportunities to develop and empower us to scale our business for success. 

Congratulations on completing parts I and II!

 



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