“Whether you think you can or think you can’t you’re right”
These words by Henry Ford have been imprinted on my brain for a very long time. They are the words I say to myself when I think I can’t. They are the words I say to myself when things don’t go to plan and they are the words I say to myself when I’m having a really bad day.
The words we use, the thoughts we think and the ability to give ourselves a good talking to when things go pear shaped make up our mindset. And our mindset determines our success in many, if not all, ways.
I’ve learned a thing or two about business over the years but the biggest lessons have been around mindset, gratitude and attitude. Dr Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential, writes about the growth mindset and the difference this way of thinking can make in life. Those with a growth mindset recognise that brains and talent are just a starting point. Growth comes from dedication and hard work as we have the capacity to change our brain and our ability through learning.
This way of thinking paves the way for a desire to learn and great accomplishment. It means we have less of an emotional tie to failure, rather viewing it as a stepping stone to success. This mindset means we think less about ourselves and more about what we can learn from others and experiences.
On the flip side, if we have a fixed mindset, we believe that we are who we are and our intelligence and talents are fixed traits. We view failure as an embarrassment and avoid situations to ensure we do not fail. We also feel the need to prove ourselves over and over. Often, those with a fixed mindset, blame others for their failure rather than learn from the experience. I know this because I was there.
It started well, back in 1998 I decided that I would never work for anyone again. The company I was working for had gone into receivership and I had lost my job. About five minutes into that decision I received a phone call from my next employer offering me a lucrative role. I heard myself say that I would only give them a year as I was going to start my own business. I think I hung up the phone in complete disbelief that I had actually said those words!
However it came true and exactly 12 months later I was in business. My mindset was strong and I was determined. I thought I had it all figured out too. My business commenced two years before my first child then hit its heyday as my second child was born. Literally. I began my daughter’s labour on stage in front of 500 breakfast guests!! You have never seen a bigger gasp in unison! It was that day that I realised something had to give. It was also that day that the universe sent me the mechanism in the form of a wave of new competitors who were ruthless and unethical. The whole market changed and my mindset took a beating.
I watched my market dissolve and spent countless hours worrying. About competitors, event numbers, finances, marketing, you name it. What a waste of time that was! It wasn’t until someone said to me that I was my own worst enemy that I realised what I was doing – to myself! I took a holiday at that point and gave myself the talking to that I needed.
My mojo returned and I decided to focus on the unique offering of my network and not what everyone else was doing. I kicked my need to prove myself to the kurb and instead focused on what I was here to do. It was also around that time that I started the mentoring program with a business partner which gave me renewed focus. I chose to learn rather than worry. We waste far too much time worrying.
This new strategy worked and I watched in near disbelief as my business turned around, my drive returned and events started selling out. I leaned on my network and absolutely credit them as giving me the support I needed to shift my thinking. I am beyond grateful and committed to returning the favour at any time.
We all need help sometimes and I have learned that it is OK to ask for it. Having a strong network around you who can pull you out of a slump is key. Who is in your network that would happily take on the role of Mindset Manager? Can you list five people who have got your back? Take them out for dinner and celebrate as they are just as important as your board of directors.
Toasting my 15th business birthday I announced that I would exit within one year. I had done what I set out to do and it was time to try something new. My intention was solid, sound and, with a strong mindset to make it happen, the wheels were in motion. Three days shy of my 16th birthday I proudly handed over the reins to Women’s Agenda, part of a larger publishing house who will take the network to the next level.
It was a good day.