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Last Updated on May 8, 2019

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.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Malachi Thompson

Executive Leadership and Performance Consultant

How to Create Your Road Map to Success (A Step-By-Step Guide) How Successful People Think: 10 Mindsets to Cultivate 15 Inspiring Ideas to Boost Your Motivation for Success How to Make Career Decisions That You Will Not Regret for Life 8 Critical Skills for Workplace Success and Career Advancement

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Last Updated on June 26, 2019

How to Create Your Road Map to Success (A Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Create Your Road Map to Success (A Step-By-Step Guide)

Everyone has their own definition of what success means to them. Well, at least we all should by the very fact that no two individuals are created 100% alike.

Our road map to success should be different to the person standing next to us. But we can get caught in the dangerous trap that someone else’s ideas of success should also be ours. Be careful.

Regardless of whether or not we’re talking about your working career, business or personal life, it is truly hard to resist the contagious excitement surrounding those fantastic dreams and goals you allow yourself to explore.

The ‘come-down’ after attending a euphoric state-inducing personal development seminar can often result in you feeling the slump of post-seminar blues. Worse still, your everyday circumstances don’t accommodate the changes you swore to make that weekend. Nothing changes.

Get ready to kiss goodbye the post-seminar blues and skip to each destination on your roadmap to your successes. By repeating over and over these simple steps, the quality of your life will improve.

You will want to use these steps as standard strategies to carry you toward further success in whatever shape or form you choose.

1. Define What Success Means to You

Is it just having enough money or more money than you might ever need that allows you to feel and judge yourself a success? Is it about having a beautiful house worth more than $2,000,000 on the upper east side of Manhattan?

Is it about having a loving partner who supports you in your endeavors? Do you equally support each other?

Is it through the tertiary education roadmap that you only feel valid you can make a meaningful and successful contribution to help the world economy turn? Is that your definition of success or is it someone else’s? Maybe your mom’s or your dad’s?

When her daughter Christina found her on the floor of her office, in a pool of blood having hit her head and breaking her cheekbone as she fell, CEO of Thrive Global and celebrated author of Thrive, Ariana Huffington had a wake-up call in more ways than one.[1]

The exhaustion and overwhelming stress which had led to her fainting drove Huffington to radically introduce new work ethics, values and rules at the editorial.

Ten years on from her accident, Huffington still leads the conversational charge amongst global leaders to change the badge of honor that successful people need to work 24/7, and give everything of themselves and more, even it means compromising their health.

As opposed to letting power and money be the two measurements of success, she explains wisdom, well-being, wonder and giving will give you greater success by nurturing your psychological well-being.

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We can’t argue with Huffington that without that, we are proverbially dead in the water.

Warren Buffet stated the way he defines success nowadays has nothing to do with money:

“I measure success by how many people love me”.

You can’t but fall in love with the wisdom and nobility these words seem to reflect, but keeping it as your only definition of success is probably dangerous. Lacking today’s wisdom at 20 years of age, would Buffet have had the same definition of success?

Think about where you are on your journey. You are likely to have different goals and different measures of success as you navigate your roadmap. Huffington and Buffet explain non-tangible ideas of success are crucial for our overall success.

Let’s also not forget though that through tenacity, persistence and many other success habits, these business leaders also rate extremely high on the power and money metrics. However, that’s not all there is to it.

If you are not sure how you would answer if someone asked you what your definition of success is, here are some clues to get you thinking and feeling.

As your head hits the pillow and before you close your eyes, what’s most important is that you can internalize that you have chosen your definition of success and you can full responsibility and accountability for deciding upon it.

2. Review Your Progress and Satisfaction in Life

Review the main areas of your life. Not just those where you feel you need to make changes. Review all of them:

  • Your career vocation or business life;
  • Your relationships – your intimate or life partner, family and friends;
  • Money health and financial management strategies;
  • Commitment to your faith or religion and spiritual personal development;
  • Your physical and mental health;

What leisure or recreational activities you pursue for fun to energize your spirit and enrich your soul.

Do you have ideas of what success looks like for you in each of these areas?

Neglecting to look at even one area is like trying to restore function to a beautifully crafted Swiss watch, whilst failing to attend to a rusty-looking cog in the tiny internal workings that needs attention. Turn one cog, the others all turn. Ignore a damaged one, the system malfunctions.

For each area, give yourself a rating out of ten – one signifies the least satisfaction and ten signifies the most – and ask yourself the following questions to help you start identifying what’s important to you:

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  • How satisfied or content with this area of my life am I presently?
  • Where would I like to live this current level of contentment to?
  • What would that new level of satisfaction look like, feel like?
  • How important is this area compared with the other areas of my life?

Regardless of what areas you recognize need to be your core focus, consider making personal development and improvements to your physical and mental health, and well-being a constant feature of your action plan.

You will need to continually recognize obstacles you’ll face from your outside world, as well as those internal psychological battles that will arise from within.

Without your mental and physical health intact, it’s unlikely the rest of the ‘cogs’ are going to turn properly.

3. Get to Know Your Values and Priorities

Don’t make the mistake of thinking goal setting can be done in one sitting. You want to make sure the pursuits you put down on paper aren’t fly-by-night moments of excitement that ebb and flow with the rise and fall of tidal trends.

Become better at identifying your priorities by exploring how you feel about each of your life areas. Think about the ratings of satisfaction you might have denoted for each. And now write down what you want to be, do and have.

Put aside your initial literary ramblings and revisit them in a couple of weeks or one month. Without looking at your initial thoughts, do the process again and see what consistencies show up. What keeps coming up as feeling important? Around what ideas is there the same yearning or emotional pull?

If you’re unsure about what you feel you wish to head towards, be in allowance of this. Don’t be jumping to quickly fill the void. The desperation is likely to have you catching the tail of the last exciting concept in fear of missing out, or trying to fill the void of excitement you yearn for.

Increase your practice of pausing and asking yourself:

Why does this resonate with me? Could this be a distraction which complicates the route I have mapped out? Am I becoming that person who proverbially chases two rabbits and catches none?

In his book The Heart of Love, Dr. John Demartini explains how becoming strongly aware of your values and priorities helps you understand why you are and where you are in your life at any given moment.

If you don’t know what you feel you stand for, look at where you direct your time, energy and attention. Look at your behavior and work backward.

You might think making money and creating financial wealth is high on your radar. However, if you spend more than you earn and allocate money to depreciating objects as opposed to appreciating assets, your behavior is inconsistent with those typical of someone who is financially astute.

Look back to your areas of life and ask yourself if the goals you have set are in alignment with your values. Look at your daily behaviors and ask yourself if the way you operate satisfies steps which take you further toward those goals.

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If not, all is not lost. You’ve simply got some harsh truths and reality checks to face before you can go any further on your roadmap to success.

4. Make Room Deliberately to Work with a Coach

You have to come to terms with the fact that you’re likely to be swimming against the tide.

Once you make clear unwavering decisions about what goals you’re aiming for, prepare to be un-liked, unpopular, criticized and potentially ostracized. There’s a high possibility you’ll lose the friendship and support of some however you will gain new friends and the support of others.

Regardless of what area/s of life your goals pertain to, make room to work with a coach. Choose wisely who that person will be to encourage and walk beside you.

Whether it be a certified coach, a family friend/mentor or qualified therapist, find someone who knows how to work with the specific issues and challenges that lay ahead without any agenda other than your success.

Having that impartial guide can be an invaluable constant. This helps keeps you on the straight and narrow even if other areas of your life aren’t going swimmingly.

5. Get Highly Familiar with Your Habits and Behaviors

Despite the scientific evidence in support of it, we’re not recommending you need to start getting up at 5:00 am and exercising for an hour before you even think about starting your day.

You should start asking yourself these questions far more frequently:

  • How well do you know your habits and routine ways of operating?
  • Do you know what choices and patterned behaviors help or hinder you?

You know what you want to work on. Greater clarity on your values has enabled you to discern which priorities are high on your list and which ones are low. It’s now time to reinforce and reward the habits that carry you forward on your roadmap to success, and adjust those habits which delay or divert you staying on course.

Remember though that part of the joy of the human experience is to be fallible, so don’t suddenly shelve all those character-building ‘vices’. Your flaws are a necessary part of your unique success jigsaw puzzle; they are the inspiring reasons you’re going on this journey in the first place.

Demartini and New York Times journalist and author Charles Duhigg both explain in their books how recognizing your unhelpful behavioral patterns needs to take place first. You identify the emotional and psychological rewards which rule over whether you sustain, break or make a habit.

When you know the rewards that light you up like a Christmas tree, you link them to new or modified habits that support values you want to make a higher priority.

Say you love eating out. You love artisan cuisine and get giddy at watching the episode of Heston Blumenthal create chocolate water in his food chemistry laboratory. As much as you say you want to increase your investment in appreciating assets, your spending habits speak otherwise.

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So, you might start looking for discount opportunities on your higher-end dining. The dishes may not rival Heston’s masterpieces, but your taste buds still enjoy a culinary roller coaster AND you also now to get feel-good allocating the discounted amount to a saving’s program.

Your tummy is singing as is your bank account. The whole experience goes well beyond short-term gratification and satisfies several values and goals.

Tweaking habits and forming new ones isn’t hard; it’s just a matter of finding a happy marriage. Take time to find it. There will always be ways.

6. Celebrate the Wins and Monitor Your Progress Along the Way

You must become good at deliberately rewarding yourself when you make changes that take you further along your roadmap to success.

Professor of cognitive neuroscience Dr. Tali Sharot explains how the brain responds and adapts far better to rewards than punishment when it comes to learning behavior and creating new habits.[2]

When we apply punishment, we reinforce the traumatic memory as being more important than the actual lesson we might have been meant to learn in the first place.

When we gamify rewards on our success journey, we inject fun and humor. We also reduce the stress that often comes with learning new things, habits and adjusting to new ways of being, doing and having.

Final Thoughts

If you hit a progress plateau at any point, you might need to allow yourself to plateau and switch your attention to another priority.

The switch may allow you to think more freely and clearly about how to move past your roadblock. Or it might simply be a good time to stop and smell the roses.

Your muscles grow stronger in their resting phase after a workout. Animals hunt profusely to build up their energy stores before going into hibernation.

Remember that continually forging ahead is not a natural rhythm. Repeat the cycle of rest, recovery and rallying forward then…start again.

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