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Your Mindset Affects Everything

Chapter 4 by Dennis Hammer

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t — you’re right.” Henry Ford

We’ve all woken up in the morning in a bad mood.

Maybe you slept on the wrong side and your neck is sore, or you woke up late and didn’t have time to make coffee. Or you might be stressed about a personal event or a work project.

Like most people, you probably let your bad mood affect the rest of your day. Maybe you snap at a coworker, blow off a deadline, or struggle to focus on your work.

This influencing cloud is a negative mindset, and it affects everything.

Not all mindsets are negative though. And they aren’t all short-lasting like a bad mood.

Stanford Mind & Body Lab defines a mindset as “a mental frame or lens that selectively organizes and encodes information, thereby orienting an individual toward a unique way of understanding an experience and guiding one toward corresponding actions and responses.”

In other words, think of your mindset as a filter placed over your brain that modifies your inputs and outputs.

The filter affects how you live, what you value, what you learn, and the choices you make.

According to Gary Klein (psychologist, senior scientist, and author of Working Minds: A Practitioner’s Guide to Cognitive Task Analysis), mindsets serve several cognitive functions:

Mindsets aren’t just any beliefs. They are beliefs that orient our reactions and tendencies. […] They let us frame situations: they direct our attention to the most important cues, so that we’re not overwhelmed with information. They suggest sensible goals so that we know what we should be trying to achieve. They prime us with reasonable courses of action so that we don’t have to puzzle out what to do. When our mindsets become habitual, they define who we are, and who we can become.

Mindsets even affect how long you live. (Spoiler: Positive people live 7.5 years longer, on average.)

Stanford University psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck (and author of Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success) studied the attitudes of her students regarding failure. “For 20 years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.”

She discovered that when students believe they can get smarter, they put in extra time and effort, leading to higher achievements.

She calls this “the growth mindset.”

Students who believed their abilities were predetermined didn’t apply themselves as diligently as the others. (Dr. Dweck calls this “the fixed mindset.)

Simply put, your attitude affects your achievements. If you obsess over the problems in your life, you’re bound to struggle with stress and defeatism.

But if you focus on what’s good about the world and yourself, you’ll feel strong and empowered.

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Switching to a Winning Mindset

Here’s the good news: Fixed and growth mindsets aren’t actually fixed.

In other words, there is no such thing as a fixed mindset, and even negative mindsets can be tuned.

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You can learn and unlearn them. You can choose to live and think differently. It’s not easy to make the change, but the benefits are undeniable.

Ecommerce store owner Thomas Despin noticed his outcomes change depending on his team’s mindset. When his team behaved with a “fixed mindset” (worrying about tomorrow’s problems, creating more obstacles than you really have, and expecting defeat), their results suffered.

But when they behaved with a “growth mindset” (starting right away, focusing on what’s essential, and selling as soon as possible), business boomed.

In the last chapter, we spoke about how our brains like to respond automatically based on our experiences. If you’ve been living with a particular mindset for a while, it becomes automatic.

Everything is filtered through that lens.

This explains why some people apply a particular attitude to everything they say, do, and believe. You probably know someone who’s positive about everything, or someone who always acts defeated before they even try.

That someone might be you.

A lot of entrepreneurs struggle with a negative mindset. The defeat they feel all the time manifests in their work.

Truth is, people with a fixed mindset rarely ever see success. They generally flail around in the “wantrepreneur” category.

So if you struggle with a negative mindset, you’ll be happy to know you can change it the same way you developed it.

Changing your mind is a simple process, but it isn’t easy.

Since a mindset is a lens that influences everything, the only way to change it is to force a new lens into place as often as you can. Eventually, you’ll create a new habit in your brain of the new mindset. (Remember, our minds love habits.)

Take these steps to reboot your mindset.

Step 1: Acknowledge Your Mindset

Honestly ask yourself if there are any thought patterns influencing your behavior.

Do you feel like a failure? Are you unmotivated or lazy? Do you prefer the “easy road”? Do you fear the criticism or displeasure of others? Do you struggle to focus or take action? What habits do you struggle to break that influence your thinking, productivity, and so on?

These are all thought patterns that could be preventing you from acquiring an entrepreneurial mindset.

Because removing yourself from your own mindset can be tough, you might have to ask someone else for their honest opinion.

Find someone you trust who can speak to you candidly about this, and ask, “Hey, do I have any negative mindsets preventing me from living up to my potential?”

Step 2: Resist Your Negative Mindset

Whenever you feel your negative mindset influencing your thoughts or behaviors, counter it with a positive mindset.

For instance, say you approach a challenge and your negative mindset makes you think, “You could never learn something so complex.”

To switch to a winning mindset, dismiss the original thought with a response like, “I know a lot of complex things. I bet I could learn this with some study and practice.”

Don’t trap this conversation in your head though.

Talk to yourself aloud, because doing so helps build memories. Better yet, talk aloud with other supportive people who can validate your positivity and lend a hand. This is one good reason to be a part of an entrepreneur group or mastermind.

Step 3: Follow the Positive Mindset

Next, simply do whatever the positive mindset recommends. Learn the new concept, take the risk, close the Netflix tab, keep working when you want to stop, or do whatever it takes to push through and work on your project.

At first, this might feel uncomfortable (even stressful). You’re fighting against gut intuition, after all.

You might find it helpful to start small. If you can’t bring yourself to write unique product descriptions for 200 products, force yourself to write one, and consider it a victory.

Over time, it’ll become easier to heed your new, positive mindset.

Step 4: Get Comfortable with Failure

We talk about failure throughout this book.

Failure is a big part of growing a business, but you can’t let it derail you. Failure is an opportunity to learn and better yourself.

As you switch to a winning mindset, you’ll fail often. You’ll catch yourself slipping into your old, fixed mindset, preventing you from working and growing.

But people with a success mindset don’t use failure as an opportunity to give up.

When they fail, they reflect, seek feedback, and make adjustments. Failure is only a problem if you let it become a new mindset.

Let yourself fail, but use it as an opportunity to learn.

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Qualities of a Growth Mindset Wired for Success

Now that you know how to change your negative mindset, let’s talk about some positive qualities of a success mindset, which will positively impact your ecommerce venture. If you don’t see the world through lenses like these, use the discussed steps above to adjust your mindset.

1. Positivity

Successful entrepreneurs with a millionaire mindset think positively.

They don’t fall prey to pessimism and negative thoughts. They know that even if they don’t have the skills necessary to run an ecommerce venture successfully, they’re smart enough (and willing) to learn.

Business owners with a winning mindset don’t engage pessimists.

Unless your store is already a massive success, people (even close friends and family) will criticize and try to devalue your hard work. They’ll tear you down to feel better about themselves because they don’t have the talent or willpower to start a business.

Don’t bother with these people.

Most importantly, positive thinkers don’t see obstacles as dead ends. Yes, Facebook targeting is tough to understand–at first. Sure, customer complaints can wear you down. But these are just obstacles to overcome, not cataclysmic events that halt all progress.

2. Forward Thinking

Successful ecommerce entrepreneurs think about growth and progress every day. They don’t get bogged down by unnecessary details or meaningless problems. They understand the importance of weighing opportunity costs.

They don’t worry if their images are misaligned by a few pixels. They don’t agonize over their corporate hierarchy before they need to hire an employee. They don’t obsess over the color of a button.

Successful entrepreneurs with a millionaire mindset prioritize the options that lead to actual growth, and they delegate or discard the rest.

Every day they ask themselves, “How does this serve my goals?”

3. Personal Acceptance

Successful people know and accept themselves. They’re clear about who they are, where they come from, and what they want out of their business and their life.

They understand their own strengths and weaknesses. They don’t feel the need to master everything. They aren’t afraid to ask for help (even if it costs money) to get the job done right.

4. Realism

Keep in mind, mindsets aren’t delusions.

They aren’t tools to trick yourself into believing lies. In other words, the most important mindset you’ll find in successful ecommerce entrepreneurs is realism.

Ecommerce isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme.

It’s certainly profitable, but it’s not an overnight path to wealth and fame.

But building your website and loading it with products is the easy part.

Marketing your store, building your brand, and serving your customers require attention, dedication, and hard work.

Many entrepreneurs dive into ecommerce with the “If you build it, they will come” mentality. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Remember: No one cares about your brand, especially in the beginning. You need a realistic understanding that your project will take work (and a lot of it).

5. Focus

Entrepreneurs with a millionaire mindset prioritize their store above all other projects. They aren’t distracted by new projects or the next Internet gimmick opportunity of the week. They aim their sights on a single goal (a successful store), and invest all of their efforts into achieving it.

Most importantly, successful store owners finish what they start. They aren’t satisfied with an incomplete job. They know if they don’t follow through and meet their goal, then they’ve wasted a lot of time and energy.

6. Action

Successful store owners don’t sit around waiting for the “perfect opportunity.”

They don’t need the perfect domain name or Twitter handle. They don’t need the perfect product or a flawless marketing plan to get started. They don’t expect people or events to accommodate them.

The best store owners know their store and process will never be perfect, but they don’t let this stop them.

Instead, they start right away and make due with what they have. You can always improve it later.  

next: Chapter 5

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