I’m sure you’ve heard the mantras on mindset: ‘mind over matter’, ‘put your mind to it’, ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’, to quote but a few. Google ‘mindset’ and you’ll come up with hundreds more, although not all of them trip off the tongue easily.
So, what do I mean by ‘mindset’, and can it really make that much difference to your personal and business growth?
I’d say that the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
First of all, let’s look at the two components of the word. ‘Mind’ has many shades of meaning, but in this context we’re looking at the mental force that drives you forward and governs your actions. In that very complex organ called your brain, the “mind” is the bit that directs your thoughts, impulses and desires towards a given goal – and some of us achieve this focus much more consistently than others. And as for ‘set’ – well, that’s easy, isn’t it? It means that you’re concentrating those energies in a direction you’ve either chosen (consciously or unconsciously) or, in many cases, had chosen for you.
That’s the point: your mindset can be a positive one, chosen by you, or it can be one which is either a ‘default’ or, worse still, a mindset imposed on you by circumstances, outside influence, or culture. So, your first objective is to define your own mindset, and make sure it’s yours and not someone else’s choice! Here’s a few examples of how others influence your business mindset : ‘My customers wouldn’t like it’, ‘I don’t have the skills to do anything different’, ‘We’ve always done it this way’, ‘It just wouldn’t work’. Any of these sound familiar? How do you know unless you’ve tried?
The next point is the difference between a positive growth mindset and a negative one, and for business growth it’s vital to have the positive one. Maybe you think that no one in their right mind would have a negative mindset – but don’t be too sure. The drivers of a negative mindset are threefold:
- lack of confidence/fear of failure
- fear of consequences of success (surprisingly)
- fixed mindset
Let’s look at the first two together. Many people lack confidence in their own abilities and it can be very difficult to find a strategy that overcomes this. At the root of a lack of confidence is the fear of failure – in other words, is it better not to try a new growth strategy at all, rather than try it and find it doesn’t work? The problem is that, in business, to do nothing doesn’t just mean that you’re standing still – all too often it effectively means that you’re going backwards. An obvious example here is that if you buy something and it doesn’t work out for you then you’re pretty unhappy to say the least. Furthermore, you’re more likely not to go down a similar path. This means you become more resistant to similar ideas. This takes you down the path of having a closed mindset ie I tried something similar before and it didn’t work so I don’t think this will work either!
Of course there are risks in cultivating a growth mindset and implementing new strategies, but these can be managed. The whole emphasis in a growth mindset should be on ‘mind’ – to use your intelligence to identify and assess the risks as well as the potential benefits, and decide how to manage the consequences.
So what if your strategy works? Then you have to manage the consequences of success and a surprising proportion of business-owners are put off by this. Why? Because they can’t envisage how they will deal with the consequences of, say, a bigger business, a higher profile, more responsibility, etc. That’s the other side of a positive mindset – not only do you have to believe you can achieve, but you also have to focus on what that achievement will bring you. This is partly why many people don’t want to have more money. They will they’ll need to change friends, move house and that they’ll become a victim of their own success. Incidentally this is also a reason for why certain people never attract more money into their lives.
Now let’s look at the third barrier – the fixed mindset. What I mean by this is the type of mindset that doesn’t admit the possibility of change; a potentially dangerous position, regardless of whether your attitude is negative or positive. It’s easy to see from the examples I gave earlier how negative thinking can get you stuck in a groove where you can’t or won’t change what has gone before. But you can also become fixed on what at first may appear positive.
Let’s say that you devote all your thinking to ways to increase your business by getting new customers – all well and good, but what about the customers you already have? If you fix your mind solely on the new customers, you could be missing out, big time. Another common example, especially in service businesses, is the concept that any additional or new piece of business must be good – it isn’t, unless it fits into your current or proposed business model and is economically viable to undertake.
So, now we know what a positive mindset looks like, how do you go about creating it and how do you change it when needed? I’d like to leave you with two simple but positive strategies, which in my experience can make all the difference to implementing your business growth plans.
- When advising customers on their business growth, a tactic I often use is to ask them to define in simple terms their short-term and medium-term business goals, such as, ‘I’d like to double my business turnover in the next 18 months’. Now you might think my next question would be ‘How are you going to achieve that?’ But instead of asking about the plans, I ask them to forget about this for the moment and concentrate on how they would feel if they achieved this and what they would do with that success. It’s what I call ‘the red Ferrari moment!’ This helps develop their growth mindset because they start thinking about abundance and achievement. Perhaps you should try this exercise and see if you can develop your personal growth strategy.The point is that I encourage my customers to focus on the results, rather than the difficulties of getting there – and in this way I encourage a positive mindset for growth.
- The second strategy comes in when the glow of the red Ferrari moment has faded. It’s about maintaining that mindset and focusing on behaviour. It’s well-established that regularly repeated actions become a habit and in due course a behaviour, so what I encourage my customers to do is first to spend some time (not necessarily very long) every day on reviewing their goals and reminding themselves of what they are and how what they do every day is working towards them. It’s all too easy to get bogged down in day-to-day details and lose sight of the main goal. Secondly, get into the habit of assessing how each decision contributes towards achieving the goal. If you can’t demonstrate to yourself how this advances your achievement, then maybe it’s not the right decision.
Carry out these steps every day and you’ll be well on your way to a positive mindset for personal and business growth!