Mindset Trumps Talent in the Race for Success

Full Shot People Running Suits

Sport is littered with examples of talented young kids who never achieve what’s expected of them.

Maybe it’s their family or friends who have too much adulation for them or the media for applying pressure too early. As sports fans, we’re told of the greatest they will soon achieve. Then it doesn’t happen. A career wasted. We’re left to speculate as to why and lament what could have been.

Yet, when we look at champion sports people we soon realize they’re often not the strongest, quickest, most skilled or highly prized. Who would you rather be, former AFL number one draft pick Jack Watts or Swan’s premiership hero, Mitch Morton, who’d previously been traded away by West Coast and Richmond?

What makes some successful and others fail? The answer is mindset.

In this case, the talented young kid hasn’t developed the mental toughness required, while the less skilled ‘knockabout’ has built the correct mindset, often through hardship, and refuses to give up. Much can be learnt in business from this sporting analogy. Business success if not about being the best, although it can help, it’s about the consistent practice of turning up and having an open mind.

As a business sherpa, I​’ve ​found​ ​that​ ​the​ biggest ‘cost’​ ​to​ ​most​ ​clients​ ​is​ ​their​ ​small​ ​thinking or acceptance of staying where they are. They don’t think big and therefore don’t take the right actions.

I believe your success comes down to three key elements:

Think differently, even in the face of adversity.

“Where success is concerned, people are not measured in inches or pounds, or college degrees, or family background; they are measured by the size of their thinking.” David Schwartz

Starting out on your own in business as an entrepreneur is exciting. You’re filled with ideas of a better world and how you can make it happen. Then reality hits, things don’t go right and people don’t buy into your idea like you have.

Your positive, can-do attitude has shifted and you’re at a crossroads. This is the point where most pack up and go home. So, I’ll ask again. Who do you want to be, the most talented or the one with the most grit and determination?

To be the former, you must learn how to look within yourself, think differently and stay open minded in the face of all resistance and negativity because you’re going to get it. It took Richmond decades to break their premiership drought. Every year at the first sign of failure their fans and the media would pile on the pressure.

Then along came a coach with inner strength, a new idea for a game plan and…nothing changed – the football club remained where it always seemed to be. Yet, the coach remained committed to his new thinking and was unwilling to give in. It took time but momentum started to build.

First, the players bought into the new plan, then management offered their full support and lastly the fans could sense what was happening.  Eight years later and Damien Hardwick achieved what many before him couldn’t. The Richmond Football Club won its first premiership in nearly 40 years.

Knowing your worth and believing in yourself are essential for success, whether you are an entrepreneur or a football coach. When you know your worth, you are more likely to persevere in the face of challenges and setbacks.

Persevering with different thinking costs nothing but can deliver everything.

Take responsibility for your actions.

Starting a small business was your idea. It’s what you wanted. You have to own that. Small business is not high school, nobody is handing out gold stars for free and nobody is responsible for your actions except you. You won’t be successful if you don’t understand this.

One of my clients has just experienced the power of changing their attitude from defeat to positivity. A key instigator for this change was they stopped pushing the blame onto situations and events.

His argument was his career to date was very responsive to circumstance and didn’t require planning and preparation and therefore he didn’t know how to. Yet in this his own business he was suddenly creating the circumstances but still wasn’t planning for all possibilities.

I would talk about how this had to change for him and he agreed but never actioned what was said. One day, out of the blue, he started to get results on the board and build consistency behind what he was trying to achieve.

It took nearly one year but the true driver of change in his business was the responsibility he started to take. Gone were his doubts about not being good enough, or questioning whether he had a market interested in what he wanted (mind you this is important to judge, fortunately for him he did) or his lack of wanting to plan.

He is the only one capable of achieving what he wants to. Now that he understands it and has taken responsibility, I can’t see anything stopping him. With this mindset, it stands to reason his business is now growing in prominence.

Surround yourself with success.

Now that you won’t give up your idea and you’ve taken responsibility for it, you need to surround yourself with success.

How many conversations did you have when you told family or friends that you were going to start a business? Probably loads and chances are all you got in return was a response similar to “that’s nice”.

Family and friends are important but unless they’ve had the success you want in business, there’s not much they can offer you. Oh don’t worry, they’ll give you the benefit of their ‘advice’ but if they haven’t worked in your shoes it will probably be incorrect. Let me be clear. If your business network consists of those you know are never going to make it or others that never have, that’s where you will stay too. If this is your business network or support group, it needs to get better.

Start identifying people in business that you aspire to be or want to learn from. Typically, these people will be ahead of you in business and that’s fine. Build a relationship and learn from them. You’re not going to learn much from Judith the life coach who’s never had a paying client.

I’ve done this in business myself and I encourage my clients to do the same. It works really well and they don’t have to be from the same industry as you. Find the people making the impact you want to as well and get in touch. Just remember it will take time to build their trust.

A monthly coffee is my preferred method to check in and touch base. Here’s the kicker though, you need to do a few things to make it work:

  • Plan for these meetings: Send them a quick email ahead of the meeting that mentions the things you wish to discuss. It will give them time to digest it and think on it for you – if you lob it at them in the moment, you won’t get the most accurate advice.
  • Be humble: Realize they’re busy too (probably more so than you) and be willing to reschedule and move things around to make it happen. Things change and circumstances come up for them, always be accommodating.
  • Make it a two-way street: As best you can offer to help them. Nobody likes to deal with someone who only takes. Work out a way you can provide value and respect their time. Knowing successful people who give their time, they normally are happy to give back but don’t abuse it. Chances are the offer of help is enough for them. If this is not an option for you right now, then you need to start following and learning from successful people in forums like videos, podcasts, blogs etc.

Thought-leading business people are not backward in offering the benefit of their experience – Branson has written more than 40 books. Talent is such an overrated term. In fact, it’s nebulous. There’s no doubt it’s an advantage but it’s only as good as the mindset behind it.

In my line of work, I’d rather work with a business owner who is not the most ‘talented’ but instead has ideas, a drive to push through barriers and has the maturity to face up to what they’re trying to do. Without knowing, or worse, applying the three key elements above you will remain in business where you are now. It’s where most people stay.

Are you talented or hard working?