Before I begin this week’s blog, it is important to point out that no two successful businesses have identical stories. Each will have faced their own unique challenges, and their founders will have taken their own paths.
With that said, there are undoubtedly common traits in the mindsets of many prominent businesspeople which have contributed to their successes, and it is these that we are going to explore in this blog.
What Makes an Entrepreneur?
If you were asked to describe the mindset of some of the most well-known entrepreneurs, what would you say?
According to the Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck in her 2006 book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, these micro-traits stem from which of two overall mindsets we have. In brief, these can be characterised as follows:
People with a fixed mindset tend to believe that any talents or skills they have are innate rather than the result of hard work. Because of this, they will look for the easy option and avoid challenges – after all, failures reflect on them personally. A fixed mindset can also lead to viewing criticism as an affront, and resenting other people’s success.
Someone with a growth mindset believes that talent is largely developed through applying and challenging oneself. This leads to a love of hard work, striving to improve and seeing failures as opportunities to learn. This can come from listening to constructive criticism, or being inspired by the success stories of other people.
These are brief descriptions, and I would recommend you read more of Carol Dweck’s theory for further background on how these mindsets can be forged at a rather scarily young age.
It is also worth noting that there has been criticism of her theories via several sources who have been unable to replicate Dweck’s studies in their own trials.
And without naming any names it is of course clear there are also extremely successful businesspeople that exhibit elements of a fixed mindset – particularly in terms of sensitivity to criticism!
But nonetheless, the qualities Dweck defines in a growth mindset are undeniably ones that would help people looking to launch or develop a brand, and in my opinion these are the most important:
A curious attitude is a wonderful thing. After all, it was probably what helped you to identify a gap in a market in the first place and then to explore how to make your idea a reality. It is also the trait that will push you to improve your knowledge, to find the right people to help you achieve your goals, and to ensure you and your business never stand still.
This should not be confused with arrogance. Confidence in terms of mindset is grounded and balanced. It is knowing when you are the right person to make a decision affecting your business, and to act decisively when so. But equally, it is an acceptance that you won’t always know best, ensuring you are open and receptive to the opinions of others.
As we have discussed already, those with a growth mindset are not just ready for challenges, they actively seek them out as a way of improving themselves. This is particularly useful in business, as it combines both hard work and courage. It will help you deal with setbacks, retaining your confidence and learning from – rather than becoming disheartened by – any perceived failures along the way.
A willingness to listen to criticism and learn from others – as well as your own mistakes!
And when mistakes are made, it is inevitable that people will be quick to tell you what you did wrong. You should listen to constructive criticism, and use it as a positive to ensure you don’t make the same mistake twice. Equally, an open mindset will allow you to look at examples of firms which have negotiated similar challenges. You will see them not as a threat to your ego, or a glaring example of how you are destined never to succeed, but instead feel inspired and reassured that your obstacles are not insurmountable.
In Conclusion: A Mindset Doesn’t Have to Stay Fixed Forever
You might have read this blog convinced you have a fixed mindset, doubting you have the adaptability needed to develop a successful brand.
The good news is that, according to Dweck, you don’t need to resign yourself to always thinking that way. She believes we can learn the skills required to develop a growth mindset. We can teach ourselves to embrace hard work, be open to new ideas, see the positives in setbacks, and develop an inner confidence while still retaining humility and perspective. And let’s face it, these are traits to be admired in everyday life as much as in our business leaders…
Croz Crossley discusses how he realised the importance of mindset when he lost everything and had to start over. He now helps his clients to get the right mindset. For him, it is more about being present, having the right beliefs, and more. Listen to the episode for a different take on the subject. It’s called: The Right Mindset is Critical for Success in Life and Business