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How Successful People Think: 10 Mindsets to Cultivate

How Successful People Think: 10 Mindsets to Cultivate

Where you see people succeeding in ways you want to emulate in your own life, know that it’s not by accident or luck that they got there. The truth is they learned how to think in ways which brought them that success.

Whether you’re looking to experience better results and/or quality of life in your career, business or any other area of your life, you can. You simply need to examine where you feel your mindset might lack clarity, structure and direction.

As you look at the following mindsets and how successful people think, you’ll be pleasantly shocked to discover the missing links between where you are and where you want to me.

1. A Growth Mindset from Intrinsic Motivation

Chasing tangible rewards as validating measures of our success satisfies our human senses. However, we can be chaining ourselves to a dangerous psychological treadmill when we pin how we measure our personal success to things which are inanimate and extrinsic.

Even worse, attributing success to trophies makes it extremely difficult to weather the stormy challenges that erupt and can completely derail us on the way. What will sustain your motivation to succeed?

Pivotal research by psychologists and researchers Edward Deci, Richard Ryan and Richard Koestner revealed significant findings highlight the risk of attaching our success to external rewards. Their meta analysis of 128 studies found intrinsic motivation decreased by a whopping 36% when external tangible rewards were being chased.[1] Lessons from Carol Dweck’s lifetime of research also teaches us that developing and exercising a growth mindset supports us drawing motivation, resilience and energy to maintain the pursuit of our goals to achieve success regardless of the reward.

Mistakes are re-written as learning experiences. Failures become lessons teaching us how to adapt, change and improve. We become able to see opportunities regardless of the trials and tribulations we face.

By practicing and adopting these perspectives, your emotional attachment and desperation to achieve certain outcomes in certain ways softens. Your resilience is much stronger and you’re able to get back on track faster and stronger, chasing your dreams without so much as a speed hump on your journey to success.

You still inevitably make the stakes to achieve the external rewards you desire. The difference is this momentum and energy you need now comes internally from a constantly flowing foundation of passion and drive.

2. Goal-Oriented with a Grounded Emotional Compass

Goal-setting isn’t simply a matter of setting a target to hit and a deadline as to when you’ll hit it. It’s engaging in well-researched, planned and staged thinking coupled with measured and well-resourced actions and behavior.

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The other essential ingredient to developing and applying an effective goal-setting mindset is having sound wisdom of the emotional, personal satisfaction that will signal you have achieved your successes.

Knowing what achieving your measures of success means and says about you is essential. If you don’t know why you’re chasing certain ambitions and even worse, if those reasons are not truly your own, you risk heading down a path that you’ll come to realize brings you little personal fulfillment and emotional enlightenment.

In Andre Agassi’s autobiography Open, he candidly conveys he hated tennis but now loves the game for the platform it offered him to set up the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. Through his personal experience of being shipped to tennis school to practice six hours daily, Agassi recognizes he lost the love and support he needed from his parents to survive in such a high-pressure environment and structure from an early age.

For children to be their best, his foundation seeds education which focuses particularly on providing a nourishing, supportive and empathetic environment for developing champions. Agassi’s goals are clear to the world. The over-arching drive to succeed at all costs is almost non-verbal; it’s clearly and powerfully emotional.

3. Imaginal

More research is demonstrating the power of harnessing an absent-mindedly applied skill we use every day: daydreaming.[2] According to Harvard Medical School’s Assistant Professor in psychiatry, Dr. Srini Pillay, our mind is aimlessly wandering for approximately 46.9% of our waking day.

For decades, elite athletes have been well-known the world over to use orchestrated visualization – also known as imagery – as a bread and butter skill to help them hone skills, techniques and their mindsets. Starting his lifetime exploration into why we daydream in the 1950s, Jerome Singer coined three styles in which we mentally procrastinate:

  • Positive constructive daydreaming (PDC) refers to planning, playful and creative imagery we engage in;
  • Guilty dysphoric day-dreaming which encompasses obsessive, anguishing fantastical thinking; and
  • Poor attentional control which is our inability to remain focused on a task which is necessary but often undesirable, an all too familiar feeling to those of us who’ve had to study oceans of information toward passing an exam.

More recent research by Johnathan Schooler and Johnathan Smallwood explains how your procrastinating habits can actually serve you.[3] If you haven’t already, it’s time to capitalize on the benefits orchestrating PCD to chase your own measures of success.

Studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging show your brain cannot tell the difference between what’s real and imagined. As a result, other systems within your brain start to direct your behavior in response to what you see in your mind’s eye.

Your reticular activating system in your brain stem also serves as a radar and deciphering system for information and opportunities that help you toward your cause. When you direct your brain to ‘daydream’ about the things you want to be, do, experience and have you direct your brain to proactively work for you; as opposed to having it haphazardly fall into the guilty dysphoric or poor attentional control patterns that don’t serve you — this requires practice.

First, developing your imagery skills with a performance or sport psychologist will skyrocket your momentum to achieving success. You will feel far less cluttered in your mind, clarity around your day to day activities will be far stronger. And emotionally, you feel purposeful even if achieving your goals toward success entails treading a longer, challenging path.

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4. Accountability

Failures and mistakes are a natural and (unfortunately) uncomfortable part of our human existence. What many of us don’t realize is that owning up to mistakes, failures and errors actually increases our emotional resilience, not to mention respect in the eyes of others and their willingness to support us.

The decisions we make across all areas of our lives are often the hardest. Take responsibility early by exercising forethought about the different consequences your decisions and actions could unleash. How could your decisions help? Who they benefit? Who could they hurt? What will be the collateral damage? Are you prepared to mitigate the fall-out?

Deliberate consideration of the consequences of your decisions and actions before you execute them will greatly increase your likelihood of making choices that align with your conscience.

When you make choices using this compass, it won’t matter whether perfect outcomes or perilous circumstances come to pass. You’ll be emotionally and mentally equipped to handle it because you’re operating from a considered, authentic place.

5. Emotionally Intelligent

To succeed in life often means you’ll require the support of others. It almost goes without saying you, therefore, need to invest in considering how to plant, water and nourish your relationships with those people whose love, support and guidance you will need.

Givers give because takers take. Takers take because givers give. Despite the clinical description, realizing in all friendships and relationships are indeed transactions will serve you to better experience better quality, genuine, emotionally and mentally satisfying exchanges.

Possessing an emotionally intelligent mindset isn’t just about having awareness of your own emotions, self-regulating them and being aware of those for others. It’s also about investing in learning how to nurture and influence the emotional status of others to help you all in your cause.

6. Entrepreneurial

You might wonder how exercising an entrepreneurial mindset could help you achieve success in your personal life. Cleverly marketing your product or service, networking, strategically sharing your goals with the right people, taking chances and managing risks are activities which can greatly accelerate you toward your personal goal targets.

Think about it. If you are single but wanting to find that person to spend the rest of your life with, you are the product. Your current thinking and habits may be what have kept you single. Now those patterns need to change.

As opposed to staying in each night in front of the television, you will need to go networking. Commit to exploring different ways to meet people and go on dates. Share your goal with your friends you are ready now to meet people. Be open to opportunities. You may even have one of your friends ready with a strategic telephone call as a fast escape route if you feel unsafe.

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Strategize a plan, risk-manage stepping out of your comfort zone and go forth. You can’t help but become a better version of yourself along the way.

7. Peak Performance, not Perfectionism

Whilst the pursuit of excellence seems like a noble cause, perfectionism can have detrimental effects on both individuals and the organizations they work for.

Research has been showing that whilst perfectionist tendencies are indicative of individuals with higher motivation and conscientiousness to deliver quality output in the workplace, there are also strong correlations with individuals experiencing stress, burnout[4]  and anxiety.[5]

A meta-analysis of 95 studies led by Assistant Professor Brian Swider at the University of Florida, explored relationships between employee effectiveness and perfectionism, finding no clear relationship between perfectionism and performance.[6]

If you have principles and expectations to achieve perfection in even one area of your life, it might be time to consider embracing the sentiment of the phrase “near enough is good enough”.

If you find it hard to let go, it might be high time to consider working with a therapist to explore if your perfectionist tendencies are stalling your progress toward achieving success. There’s also a risk you could be doing injustice to your work colleagues and the organization you work for, too.

8. Exercise a Scale and Leverage Mindset

If you own or run a business, thinking about how you can achieve a return on investment in any opportunity that presents itself, is an imperative mindset feature. Even as an employee or a stay at home parent, you’ll do yourself incredible favors emotionally and mentally if you’re looking at how you can maximize and leverage your time.

Would it be wiser and more economical for you to do the household ironing and cleaning? Don’t just consider this from a time and money perspective. Also, consider your own energy and brain power as a highly-prized commodity. If your earning capacity is $100 per hour, would you look to:

  • Pay a bookkeeper to get on top of your home-business receipts for two hours a week at $50 an hour and do the household chores yourself; or
  • Do the bookkeeping yourself and pay someone to do the ironing and cleaning for three hours a week at $25 an hour?

Either option is going to bring better use of your time than doing both. The decision you make comes from considering what you’re undertaking the activity that will serve your highest priorities and delegating those which don’t. When you do what’s most important to you, you’ll not only do it highly effective, you’ll also enjoy doing it. Find ways and move toward letting go of what’s tedious for you, where you can and you’ll move faster and more enjoyable toward reaching your goal milestones.

9. Learn To Teach

It’s one thing to read, watch a video or attend a lecture or conference. It’s common knowledge that the majority of information we have received, we forget within a 48 hour period.

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What stops most of us from achieving the success we want is not taking action afterward. We change nothing and the status quo remains.

Diving in deep to apply a brand new skill can be scary. One of the ways to help you develop the confidence to apply your new knowledge is to set up practice opportunities with people who will be non-judgemental, supportive and understand you’re developing your skills. See yourself as a messenger to teach these people what you have learned and practice your skills at the same time.

Research shows that when you teach others what you have learned, you actually learn more and accelerate your ability to apply new skills more effectively.[7] Your confidence will massively expand and you will love even more what you’re learning.

10. Dare Greatly

Stretch your vision of what you want to reach for.

Martial arts teaches us that to pulverize an inch-thick plank of wood in half with one strike, our arm’s full stretch doesn’t stop at the board. We aim to hit a point which is beyond it and break the board en route to our arm’s full stretch.

When you’re setting goals, think of the target you want to reach and ask yourself to set the target a little further. Be playful and cheeky. State the target of your goals and always add: “This, or better.”

Be cautious to never put a cap on the levels of success you can reach.

Final Thoughts

One thing that connects all the above points is that successful people don’t do the normal or expected thing.

The norm, is the regular, the conventional standard. And to truly stand out become successful, you need to do things differently.

Whether it’s one or all of these mindsets you identify as your missing links between where you are and where you want to be, the great news is now you know your benchmarks from which to spring forward.

More Articles to Help You Achieve Success

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Malachi Thompson

Leadership & Performance Edge Strategist

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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