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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.

More Articles to Help You Achieve Success

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Malachi Thompson

Executive Leadership and Performance Consultant

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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