Does Your Mindset Matter?
I love Eeyore. He’s a sad donkey, to be sure, but that’s part of why I like him so much. I’m always cheering him on, hoping he’ll see the light. Obviously, Eeyore is a fictional character, and his mindset is never going to change. It looks something like this:
Why do we love Eeyore so much? Here’s some (almost) baseless speculation for you: it’s because we’ve all been there. We’ve all been the sad donkey who feels like everything is falling apart, and we’ve all needed love and care from our friends to get by. Feeling this way once in a while is more than alright – it’s completely normal, and totally human. Feeling that way all the time, though? You might want to shift your mindset.
Does your mindset matter? Spoiler alert: absolutely. We’re going to do a deep dive on what mindset is, then look at a few contrasting mindsets. We’ll focus on mindsets that might benefit entrepreneurs (though, honestly, they can benefit anyone), and look at some traps you might fall into. Ready? Let’s dive in:
What is a Mindset?
Mindset is a brooooooad term – it’s basically your set of assumptions, beliefs, opinions, and thoughts. What’s funny about mindsets is that some people will have you believe that person X will have a mindset that looks like this:
While other people have mindsets that look like this:
Realistically, though, parts of your mindset will shift regularly. I’m a writer. Let me tell you, no matter what beliefs or assumptions I have at a given time, sometimes I feel galaxy-brained, and sometimes I feel monkey-brained (especially if there’s some fun distraction in the area).
That’s something to keep in mind as we dive into different mindsets. You won’t always be guided perfectly by your mindset – one important element of the most useful mindsets is to not get too down on yourself when things don’t go your way. You can feel like Eeyore sometimes, and draw on the strength of your loved ones. Keep the true, useful, and powerful beliefs and assumptions we’re going to talk about in your mind, and you’ll draw strength from yourself, too.
Growth and Fixed Mindsets
The notion of these two mindsets was developed by psychologist, Carol Dweck. You can delve into a lot of the theory behind these two mindsets, but we’re going to keep it simple:
A fixed mindset is a belief that your traits are innate. You’re only ever going to be as intelligent, moral, hard-working, reliable, etc. as you already are. A growth mindset is the belief that by being open-minded, willing to embrace failure and mistakes, and capable of learning, you can improve those same base attributes.
Locus of Control
All of this relates back to a concept called “locus of control”.
*No, not locusts of control
Locus of control comes in two exciting flavours – external and internal. External locus of control is associated with fixed mindsets – it’s the belief that factors outside of your control determine your lot in life. Internal locus of control is the opposite – it’s the belief that you have control over outcomes.
Here’s something that’s important to remember – there are things outside of your control, like the weather, and black swan events. What is in your control is how you respond to those things, and that’s the crux of the growth mindset.
When you have a fixed mindset, the success of others can seem like a threat to you – proof that their immutable base attributes are better than yours. When you have a growth mindset, you can celebrate the success of others, and look to them as examples of how to further your own dreams, goals, and ambitions.
No One Is Perfect
One last take away from growth vs. fixed mindset – no one has a perfect growth mindset. This is acknowledged by Carol Dweck herself. We can fall into fixed mindsets when we feel threatened – we want to prove that our “core self” is better than the one threatening us, so we’re less inclined to try to learn from them. The key isn’t never falling into these habits – it’s acknowledging when you do, and trying to shift your thinking to one of growth.
For entrepreneurs, the use of growth mindsets is obvious. You want to see challenges as opportunities, criticism as a chance to learn, and failure as one more step toward success. Realistically, this attitude is useful for everyone. Embrace change. Embrace growth.
Scarcity vs. Abundance Mindset
Closely related to the fixed mindset and growth mindset, we have the scarcity mindset and abundance mindset.
I’m going to be honest with you all – I fall into the scarcity mindset a lot more than I’d like to, especially when it comes to finances. It’s a mindset that says there isn’t enough, so you have to conserve what you have at any cost. I grew up on the poorer side of the economic spectrum (for where I lived, anyway), so I’ve developed a conservative approach to personal finances (I wear my shoes until the soles are falling off) and have an unhealthy taste for blue box macaroni.
Scarcity mindset is worrying about what you don’t have – abundance mindset is celebrating what you do have. When you think of scarcity, you think of life as a zero-sum game – whatever someone else has is something you don’t have. Much like the fixed mindset, this can lead to you kind of disliking other people – not a good trait for any entrepreneur. Business is all about people – helping your community, and creating connections.
Abundance mindset, then, is looking at what other people have and celebrating it. It’s about looking at what you have and wanting to share it – knowing that giving your knowledge and time to others isn’t a loss, but a gain. When you focus on what you don’t have, not having will become your way of thinking, and your way of acting. When you focus on how much you have, and practice gratitude, you’ll think abundantly, opening yourself up to the very real possibilities and resources that are right in front of you.
The Ultimate Bottleneck
One thing I want to make abundantly (pun intended) clear is that having an abundance mindset doesn’t mean you should spend recklessly. Rather, think of it more as looking on the bright side – even if you have to curb your spending right now, there are always going to be new opportunities on the horizon. It’s looking at challenges as resources, and competitors as comrades. It’s a lot like a growth mindset.
Here’s a question for you: what’s your biggest bottleneck? One of the most obvious answers is time. You only have 24 hours in a day, and, to be a bit fatalistic, so many hours in your life.
Realistically, though, our mindsets can be a bigger bottleneck than time. On great days, you can get done in half an hour what takes you 2 on a bad day.
When you’re in abundance mode, you might find that every minute of your time is well-spent. You’re connecting with people! You’re improving the lives of others, and improving your own life! You can smell the flowers, to mess up an old cliché.
When you’re in a scarcity mindset, though, you’re going to be like Scrooge before he was haunted by a bunch of ghosts (which turned out surprisingly well for him!). When you’re focusing all of your energy on how little time there is, and how little you have, you may not enjoy the time you do have – or spend it particularly productively.
One great way to push yourself out of a scarcity mindset is to automate tasks that you don’t find fulfilling. This pushes your thinking away from “I could be doing that instead of this”, and towards “I love how I’m spending my time!”. Software that helps you keep track of your schedule, manage appointment booking, answer simple customer queries, or handle your bookkeeping can be a huge boon.
Like any mindset (and I’m going to keep hammering this point home), no one is always going to be abundance-minded. Sometimes, we feel scared that we’re going to lose what’s ours, and we fall into scarcity patterns. That’s okay. It’s about being mindful of when we fall into those patterns, and (gently) correcting them that we begin to grow and flourish.
The “Hustle Harder” Mindset
Okay, let’s take a deeeeeeep breath.
I’m not going to tell you not to hustle. Hustling is great! I’m hustling right now, juggling a few different articles I’ve got to write.
But let me tell you something else.
You need a break.
And unless you’re on an Olympic curling team, I don’t want to hear you yelling HURRY HARD!!! at yourself or anyone else all day long.
Some work and some play make Jack feel pretty good!
There are so many studies that show the importance of taking a break. You should be playing at work. Vacations are very good for you. Basically, when you give yourself the chance to rest, relax, and rejuvenate, your hustle will be more effective, more enjoyable, and all together, more fruitful.
Give yourself time to enjoy your own company, and the company of others, without the stress of the hustle looming over you. It can improve your self-esteem. It can shift your thinking from a scarcity mindset (I need to hustle to get my piece of the pie) to an abundance mindset (I want to hustle because it makes me feel good and improves my already satisfying life).
A Finer Grind
Those of you who have been on the grind for longer than Hill Bros. Coffee might have a hard time adjusting to this grind smarter, not harder philosophy. One trick is to find places that you’re grinding out work that you don’t have to do. This goes back to something we talked about earlier – if you’re zoomed in on a particular worry, you might not see possibilities all around you.
Here are some quick tips:
- Love scheduling? Schedule in time for your personal hobbies, or even time to do nothing at all.
- Adjust your routine. Take time to make yourself breakfast in the morning, and savor the cooking process.
- Stop opening emails at 2 AM.
- Automate rote, repetitive, time-consuming tasks. There are programs to automate everything from booking clients to handling invoices and contracts.
Your mindset matters. You matter. When you take care of yourself, and try to look at the world through the positive mindsets we’ve described, you and your business will thrive.