Help Desk

Mindset matters most

Jamie Ford dishes up insights on how mental toughness helps business owners perform better and succeed quicker.

Karl had been down in the dumps and getting demotivated for more than three months. 

With the help of a business coach he had written a business plan with ambitious goals for his business two years ago, but it wasn’t happening. Now he often worried that the business would end up as ‘road kill’ like so many other owner operated businesses, rather than the success he had dreamed of.

Unfortunately Karl’s business coach was not familiar with one vital element necessary for turning ambition into success – the requirement for ‘mental toughness’. 

Shortly after we met Karl completed a mental toughness assessment and that showed exactly where things were going wrong. He had a ‘pessimistic’ mindset and no business plan or goal-setting was going to overcome that. 

With some expert coaching in mental toughness he soon had a complete change of attitude and found it much easier doing the ‘hard yards’ needed to achieve his business goals and make a success of his business.

Karl had fallen victim to the fallacy of assuming awesome goals automatically lead to awesome results. The facts are otherwise as many business owners will avow. A mentally tough and optimistic mindset is the absolutely vital ingredient in developing and maintaining high levels of drive, energy and motivation. 

It takes more mental toughness to be a successful business
owner than it does to be an All Black

Business owners are under huge pressures every day of every week of every year, and even many times during the course of one day. The All Blacks are under nothing like that level of constant pressure. 

Fortunately good science has now unpacked the ingredients of mental toughness and we know it is a learned skill, not a matter of being lucky when the genes get handed out at birth. Generally it doesn’t get much thought until a lack of it shows it’s face, as in Karl’s case. But anyone who applies themselves can learn to be much more mentally tough than the average Kiwi business owner. 

Being mentally tough means you will:

  • Worry less and use your energy for more constructive actions, taking your business forward.
  • Be healthier with a positive attitude and be much less likely to get down-in-the-dumps when trouble comes over the horizon with your name written on it.
  • Pick yourself up much faster from the knocks that are part and parcel of owning a business.
  • Be much more motivated to use the pressures you experience as a way of gaining new insights on how to improve the performance of your business.
  • Find you have levels of ‘drive’ to succeed that you only dreamed of previously.

 

Your 5-step mental toughness action plan for 2017 

  1. Live above the line and take ownership of your thoughts, moods and emotions. Don’t pass the buck and whine about how other people have upset and demotivated you when that’s an outcome of your own thinking about what is going on.
  2. Only concern yourself with what you can control and let the other stuff slide away. This will leverage your capabilities instead of exhausting them on wild goose chases.
  3. Put yourself at risk of succeeding by seeing every failure as a stepping stone to success. Be like Thomas Edison and get comfortable with failure as a normal part of owning a business. Edison had a mentally tough mindset and it shows in this famous quote of his: “I failed my way to success”.
  4. Focus on flourishing more than ‘coping’. Coping is a weak and ineffective outcome; you have your nose above the water but the next ripple of adversity will take you under. Being mentally tough is about having a mindset that enables you to flourish even in the most adverse circumstances. 
  5. Get the insights for building more mental toughness by taking an assessment, getting an action plan, and an expert mental toughness coach to work alongside you.


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Jamie Ford is founder and director of Foresight Learning Systems, a consultancy with a track record of success in facilitating sustained performance improvement. He is a member of the International and NZ Positive Psychology Associations; has a strong alliance with the Optimism Project at The University of Pennsylvania led by Dr Martin Seligman; and has great insights into how psychology can contribute to mental toughness and our quality of life.
foresight.co.nz 

Publishing Information
Magazine Issue: NZBusiness March 2017 Page Number: 42