As you’ve probably figured out by now, the greatest hindrances to the growth of your business aren’t external to you, they’re internal. It’s not primarily about what your competitors do or what happens in the market, it’s about what you believe about you, your people, your products and services, your market, your place in the market, your competitive advantages, your ability to win/dominate your market, your capacity to lead, etc.
The greatest battles any business owner or entrepreneur ever faces are the ones between their ears. The differences between a successful entrepreneur like a Richard Branson and a typical entrepreneur aren’t usually related to the issues the typical entrepreneur might think they are—they’re primarily related to how that successful entrepreneur thinks. For example, Richard Branson just thinks bigger. He doesn’t waste time thinking about how to sell 100 more widgets, he invests his thinking time asking questions like, “How can we revolutionize an entire industry?”
That’s all mindset. Of course, Richard (like most successful entrepreneurs) didn’t start there. He started out small (in his case, with promoting bands and selling records) and then grew that mindset over time. But, make no mistake, it is the way he thinks that makes all the difference, just as it does with every successful entrepreneur.
Which means that if you want to develop a more scalable and successful business, you’re going to have to take charge of developing and increasing your own mindset into an exponential growth mindset.
How can you do that? Well, there are seven key levers that influence your mindset. If you take and utilize as many of them as possible, you have the best possible chance of creating the kind of growth mindset that can take you and your business to the next level.
Lever #1 – Your Personality
Every personality type has strengths and weaknesses. If you’re an intuitive (a “N” in Myers-Briggs), you have an easier time of cultivating a growth-oriented mindset (intuitives live in the future, they like theory, they like ideas and concepts, etc.). On the other hand, if you’re a sensor (a “S” in Myers-Briggs), you have a harder time dealing with ideas and the future because your natural bent is to focus on the past and data.
Likewise, if you’re a thinker (a “T” in Myers-Briggs), you have an easier time being more objective about ideas and solving problems. However, if you’re a feeler (a “F” in Myers-Briggs), you have a harder time being objective because you care about how decisions affect others and what they think.
That said, personality types aren’t meant to be excuses, they’re meant to descriptive, not prescriptive. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it just means you have to be more intentional about doing it.
Application: This means that if you’re a sensor, and you want to have a bigger mindset, you’re going to have to be very intentional about going outside your comfort zone and creating time to think bigger. Or, if you’re a feeler, you’re going to have to be very intentional about going outside your comfort zone and not letting what other people think or how the decisions you make will affect them, get in the way of dreaming big. You never want to let your personality become an excuse for not thinking big
Lever #2 – The People You Spend Time With
You know that who you spend time with has a huge influence on your mindset. If you hang around negative people, you’ll become more negative. If you hang around positive people, you’ll become more positive. If you hang around people with questionable integrity, you’ll become less honorable. If you hang around people with high integrity, you’ll either maintain yours or raise it.
What surprises me then is how few people use this principle (even though they know the principle). They’ll even come up with excuses why they can’t get away from XYZ. However, if you want to have a bigger mindset, you have to become incredibly intentional about the people you send time with.
Application: So, here are a couple of ideas. Make a list of the people who negatively influence you. Then come up with some strategies to decrease or eliminate your time with them. Then make a list of the people who you already know who have a positive impact on your big-thinking mindset. Spend more time with them. Finally, make a list of people who you’d like to spend time with because they’re a couple steps in front of you and you know that if you would spend time with them, it would help you to think at a higher level. Then come up with some strategies to meet them (for example, attend a conference they’re going to or speaking at or ask them out for a cup or coffee or ask them to mentor you, etc.).
Lever #3 – Your Experiences
If you grew up in wealth or in poverty, that experience has affected your mindset. If you grew up around entrepreneurs or hourly day workers, that’s affected your mindset. If you took a job with a fast growth company or a plateaued company, that’s affected your mindset. If you’ve traveled the world or haven’t traveled more than two hundred miles from your hometown, that’s affected your mindset. If you went to a liberal arts college or an engineering school, that’s affected your mindset.
No matter who you are, your experiences (both good and bad) have shaped you and the way you think about the world. Most people never think about this, but you can’t unravel your mindset without taking account of your experiences.
Application: If you want to grow a bigger mindset, then make sure you find some experiences that will help you think differently. Expose yourself to different cultures and foods. Intentionally go to conferences that will force you to think differently and at a higher level. Put yourself in places where you’re forced to go beyond your comfort zone. Prove to yourself that your current limitations are mental and that you are capable of more.
Lever #4 – The Story You Tell Yourself About Your Experiences
Though some people might combine #3 and #4, I think they’re different. Two people going through the same experience can have two different stories about that experience. Growing up in poverty influences one’s mindset. However, one person can use that to keep themselves stuck and another can use that to propel themselves to greatness. One person can grow up in wealth and develop a mindset of entitlement while another can tell themselves a story about responsibility and service on a large-scale.
Ultimately, it’s not just the experiences of our lives that fully shape our mindsets, it’s the story we tell ourselves about those experiences. And the great thing about that is that you and I are in complete control of that story. Even better, the story we tell ourselves is usually driven by the language we choose to use. For example, when most people try something and they “fail” they call it a failure, scientists have a better word—they simply call it an “experiment.” “We were testing a hypothesis and we received a null verification.” That sounds so much better than, “We failed” or even worse, “I’m a failure.”
Application: Take full control over the language you use to share the story about your experiences, especially the stories you tell yourself about those experiences. Eliminate negative words like “failure” and “mistake.” Instead, talk about “pivots” and iterations.” Make everything you go through a learning experience. Turn anything that could be labeled negatively,into a positive, “Now, I know one more thing not to do.”
Lever #5 – What You Choose to Feed Your Mind
As far as I’m concerned, as business leader, this may be the most important. If you want to think at a bigger level, you need to intentionally put things into your brain that help you think bigger. For example, last week, Peter Diamondis just released his new book, Bold. Peter thinks at a high level. He’s always thinking about global changes. “How do you build a billion dollar business? Solve a problem for a billion people.” You can’t help but think bigger reading a book like his.
On the other hand, watching TV (especially “reality” TV) or reading gossip fodder (even on “respected” news sites) rarely does the same.
Moreover, I would argue that while watching educational videos or listening to podcasts is beneficial, nothing supplants the impact that reading has on developing your mental capacity.
Application: So what are the next ten books you need to read to help you think at a higher level? What do you need to learn to take your business to the next level? Who’s thinking do you need to be exposed to? What podcasts do you need to listen to? What blogs do you need to read regularly? Moreover, when are you going to schedule your learning time … EVERY DAY! Listen, if it works for people like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Mark Cuban it just might work for you.
Lever #6 – Your Belief System
Our beliefs affect how we think about everything. For example, if you tend to have a pessimistic belief system (most things won’t work out in your favor), that’s going to affect your mindset about growing your company (vs. one where your belief is that most things will turn out to your benefit). Or if you have a belief system that since you’re the leader, everyone works for you, that will affect your mindset (vs. one where you’re there as the leader to help your employees succeed).
The great thing about beliefs, similar to the story we tell ourselves about our experiences, is that we’re in complete control of them—which means we can change them anytime we want. For example, if you believe that you’re leading a small business and can’t sell to a big company because you’re not “worthy”, once you identify that’s your belief, you can change it and tell yourself, “I have every right to sell to a big company. My company is just as worthy as any other company in our industry. Even better, there are a lot of people at big companies who want to support small businesses and prefer our pricing structures so they’re not having to pay as much for infrastructure costs.”
Application: What beliefs are holding you and your company back? Make a list. Then come up with a better belief that you can use to supplant your limiting belief with a more empowering and positive belief—and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to think bigger and see a bigger future for your business.
Lever #7 – The Questions Your Ask Yourself
If you’ve been reading my posts for any length of time, you know this is one of my favorite principles, “The way we think is by asking ourselves questions.” In fact, you probably just asked yourself, “Is that the way I think?”
So, if the way we think is by asking ourselves questions, if you want to think at a higher level, you need to ask yourself better and bigger questions. For example, instead of asking, “How can we grow by 10% this year?” ask, “How can we double our business over the next 12 or 24 months?” Instead of asking, “How can we take 5% market share from our competitors?” ask, “What could we do to disrupt our industry?”
Instead of asking, “What positions do we need to add this year?” ask, “What would it take to turn this business into a franchise that we could scale nationwide over the next five years?” It’s all in the questions we ask. If you ask a bigger question, you’ll get a bigger answer.
Application: Make a list of five big questions you can begin to ponder this next quarter. Then ask yourself those five questions every week for the next twelve weeks (or until you get an answer). Remember, the bigger the question, the bigger the answer.
Well, there you go. The seven main levers you can use to change your mindset at any time. Plus, a set of ideas you can use, starting today, to help you build a bigger growth mindset, which you can then leverage into a bigger, better, faster and more profitable business.
- Your personality
- The people you spend time with
- Your experiences
- The story you tell yourself about your experiences
- What you choose to feed your mind
- Your belief system
- The questions you ask yourself
So, what’s your next step? If you want to build a bigger business, you need a bigger mindset that’ll take you there. And, hopefully, if you only picked up one key lesson from today’s post, you picked up that it won’t just happen. You have to be intentional about it.
To your accelerated success!
P.S. Note: While I focused these seven levers on building your business mindset, these are the same levers you can use with any area of your life. So apply them liberally!