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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 December 10, 2019

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is staying motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task serves a greater goal.

So how to stay motivated most of the time? Here are 5 simple yet effective ways on how to stay motivated and get what you want:

1. Find Your Good Reasons

Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first but, if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all – we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.

If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons.

Even when you set goals, there needs to be reasons behind these goals. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some, as this will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.

Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

  • A material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all.
  • Personal gain – you will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way.
  • A feeling of accomplishment – at least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task.
  • A step closer to your bigger goal – even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

2. Make It Fun

When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it.

Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do!

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Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some. Yet many others love the idea!

They like exercising not only because they recognize the good reasons behind it, but simply because it’s fun! At certain time of their daily schedule, they find going to gym to be the best thing to do, simply because nothing else will fit their time and lifestyle so perfectly.

Depending on how you look at it, you can have fun doing just about anything! Just look for ways of having fun, and you’ll find them!

A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How can I enjoy this task?
  • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
  • How can I make this work the best part of my day?

As long as you learn to have the definite expectation of any task being potentially enjoyable, you will start to feel motivated.

Some of you will probably think of a thing or two which are valid exceptions from this statement, like something you always hate doing no matter how hard you try making it fun. You’re probably right, and that’s why I don’t claim everything to be fun.

However, most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, and so looking for ways to have fun while working is definitely a good habit to acquire.

3. Change Your Approach And Don’t Give Up

When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach for the task.

You may be doing everything correctly and most efficiently, but such approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach which will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

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That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common — if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

Some people think that trying a different approach means giving up. They take pride in being really stubborn and refusing to try any other options on their way towards the goal.

My opinion on this is that the power of focus is great, but you should be focusing on your goal, and not limiting your options by focusing on just one way to accomplish it it.

4. Recognize Your Progress

Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

We track our progress automatically with most activities. But to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it.

Here’s how tracking and recognizing your progress is different:

Tracking is merely taking a note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at a bigger picture and realize where exactly you are, and how much more you have left to do.

For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

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You see, reading any book you will be automatically looking at page numbers and chapter titles, but without knowing the total number of pages, this information will have little meaning.

Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until all is done and the task is fully complete.

For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive different and progress made. This is how your motivation can sustain in long term.

5. Reward Yourself

This is a trick everyone likes: rewarding yourself is always pleasant. This is also one of the easiest and at the same time most powerful ways to stay motivated!

Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on some task? Hate the whole idea of working? You’re not alone.

Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way.

For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do.

For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself a dessert.

For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to a cinema or taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

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Your progress may not seem to others like anything worth celebrating but, take time and do it anyway! It is your task and your reward, so any ways to stay motivated are good.

The more you reward yourself for the honestly made progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones, thus finally accomplishing your goal.

Mix and Match

Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

Pick one of the techniques and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right way. Mix different approaches and match them to your task for the best results.

Just think about it: Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to helping you feel better; and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

Or, if you plan a few points for easier tracking of your progress and on top of that, agree on rewarding yourself as you go; this will make you feel most motivated about anything you have to work through.

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Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

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