How Having The Right Mindset Helps Entrepreneurs Build Thriving Companies

June 25, 2019 / Comments Off on How Having The Right Mindset Helps Entrepreneurs Build Thriving Companies


There is an example of the most famous golfer that most people have never heard of and who has received many commendations from the ‘greats.’

His name was Murray (Moe) Norman.

Entrepreneur-chessAt the age of 6, he was struck by a car and then labeled ‘autistic’ although I don’t know if he was ever diagnosed with that condition.

Moe Norman was probably the best striker of a golf ball in history and he was ostracized when he went to play the US tour to such a degree that it knocked the confidence out of him.

Ironically, the video below sees him talking about the importance of the mind in golf.

Now watch the video no matter whether you have an interest in golf or not, because you will learn something that we all should learn.

Let’s now bring this into the world of business.

When I hear the phrase in business and entrepreneurship – “what is your Unique Selling Point (USP), “I cringe.

The chances are that unless you have re-invented the wheel, you are taking an established idea or thought and putting your own spin on it to make it better.

I nearly re-invented the wheel, when I was a co-founder of a telecommunications software product that was developed to ‘revolutionize’ the industry, but in fact, it was a spin on another ‘revolutionary’ product that actually did do the job that it claimed.

I tell everyone that the only true USP is the USP of you!

And your mindset is a huge part of ‘you.’

It is and always will be all about you-you are the driving force of everything to do with you, whether that is to embark on a career path, gain a promotion or start a business…

You are the key.

As we are talking about entrepreneurship and if you are an existing or aspiring entrepreneur, then you will already have an appreciation for the term instinct.

The nature versus nurture debate is a fundamental one in the field of psychology and the general sense of opinion is that behavior is both learned and innate and I personally believe that the main ‘drive’ within entrepreneurs is instinctive.

But on top of this instinctive drive, so to speak, is another extremely powerful component of success…

And that is having the right mindset, and being more specific, having what is termed a growth mindset.

Mental Mysteries

Humans have always had a fascination with the mind and it’s easy to see why – what could be more fascinating than the working of the human mind?

The entire subject is surrounded by mystery, spirituality, and science  – we have yet to draw final conclusions in many areas concerning the working of the mind, but I have no doubt we will get there and taking into account the statement that there is a scientific answer for everything, then it is only a matter of time at least from my standpoint, simply because we will keep searching and uncovering until we find the answers and yes, there will be new theories emerging, but the process will continue.

Many of you have heard about the Law of Attraction (LOA) and you may have seen the movie ‘The Secret‘ and if you are looking for some form of explanation into how it all works, you will enter the world of quantum mechanics or physics.

I am not going to debate the LOA here as it would need an entire article, but you can read more about the quantum world here and the famous double-slit experiment.

But as I have said earlier, we will eventually bridge the gap between mystery and science.

Books, ‘Gurus’ And More

Everyone wants your hard earned dollars in today’s economic world and the world of mindset and personal development is flooded with ‘experts,’ books and programs on the subject.

I cringe when I see adverts that promote seminars, meetups, and retreats where everything is a ‘high energy,’ ‘high fiving,’ fist bumping and hug the person next to you type event.

I am more interested in what happens to the people after these events and how long they can maintain this ‘energy.’

As a long time student of Martial Arts, I learned a huge amount from studying Russian and Internal Chinese Arts.

And they both talk about the use of energy.

When I went to Russia to see the arts in the homeland, I was amazed at how calm the people were when practicing, training and in actually using them – it was counter-intuitive, to say the least.  Bear also in mind that these individuals were a mixture of normal citizens, Special Forces, Law Enforcement operatives and government bodyguards.

There was no doubt in my mind as to the effectiveness of what they were doing and I marveled as to the complete sense of calmness they displayed while under intense pressure and this includes working with knives and guns!

With the Chinese Internal Arts, I am learning more about developing and using the internal energy systems and this has enabled me to no longer use a walking stick (I have fought off a total hip operation for years, but ended up having to use a cane until two years ago), to walk.

If you want to learn more about the Internal arts, then get in touch with my mentor and teacher, Chris Ray Chappell and I have known Chris for nearly 40 years, but only re-connected with him a couple of years ago as we lost touch and I was living in the US.

Chris is a firm believer that the way to developing the mind is to first go through the body, to detach your mind – again this seems counter-intuitive as you would think that you would need to work the mind first, but he explained to me that this ‘detachment’ is necessary to allow the mind to ‘relax’ and then re-shape!

Martial Arts in general and in particular Russian and the Internal Chinese Arts have shaped my mindset and much of what I am talking about here is down to this alone.

It is all about keeping your emotions under control and not going to extremes – one method that was taught to me in both theory and practical senses was the use of the Cossack Whip!

Now keep your imagination under control here as we are talking about learning how to move, controlling your emotions and it even has a medicinal purpose as can be seen in this video.

Believe me, you soon learn how to move, especially as the pace gets faster and initially, you are shocked by the sting of the whip, but you get used to it by learning how to breathe – I was amazed at how many people who first screamed and flinched when they were hit, who then learned to simply relax, breathe and they started to enjoy the experience!

It is a perfect way to ‘test yourself’ and develop a strong mind.

So beware of people who encourage you to get in these euphoric, high energy states and have you jumping up and down to music telling you to ‘feel the energy,’ etc.

I never saw anyone get in that state in Russia and these people are elite in their field and have to be calm in real life or death situations and if it is good enough for them…

When it comes to books, then I am afraid you are not going to be able to develop your mindset through a book and at best you will have inspiration…but it must be turned into action.

I have a book collection that would fill a small library and many of them are in the field we are talking about right now, but I quickly realized that simply reading someone’s story was one thing, but living their life is another!

We can never appreciate the life that someone else has lived, only at best can we get a glimpse of it – so it is important that we realize the limitations that books have.

I use books because I am extremely interested in the story – be it a Military General, award-winning scientist or historian or a soccer coach!

I am interested more in the ‘what’ and ‘how’ they achieved rather than the personal story, although I do gravitate to those people who have suffered some form of hardship.

So What Is The Correct Mindset?

This article covers 25 ways to develop a growth mindset.

We are talking here about entrepreneurs, but the formula for success is universal!

Look outside your industry and gain inspiration from others – I looked and still do at Martial Arts for inspiration, I also look at elite athletes and musicians, but I always keep an open mind when it comes to learning.  I was never a great academic at school, but when I started my first business at the age of 19, I developed an amazing sense of desire to learn all about the subjects that I had no interest in at school.

Also, use science to your advantage and especially neuroscience – you may or may not have heard about brain plasticity and for years a belief was held that once the brain has developed into adulthood, it was pretty much set for life.  Now we understand that the brain is far more malleable than we thought and can adapt according to experiences.

Mental Resilience is a key component of the correct mindset and this article outlines 14 strategies you can use to build resilience.

Now it’s time to take some action!

Keys To Starting And Developing The Growth Mindset Process

I believe that anyone can attain a growth mindset and it comes more from having a burning desire deep within, to learn and develop ourselves and here are some points to think about:

1# – Start To Use Your Mind

The first thing you can do very easily is to start to use the mind and make it work for you – gather information and as an entrepreneur, information is the foundation for the creation of ideas and the implementation of those ideas.

When I started my main staffing company, I ended up dealing Internationally from day one and this was not by design, but how the market led me through my research.

I loved both the excitement and the fact that I had a desire to learn about the cultures and countries that I would and could be dealing with in the future.

I also knew the mentality of my competitors and that they would simply be chasing the deals, rather than doing the groundwork that is more important for long -term success and this was a huge motivating factor for me.

I always play the long game in life and I will put in whatever amount of work and study to succeed and to me as life is a marathon and not a sprint!

My approach required a great deal of discipline and I couldn’t stop the day-to-day running of the business just to study and any study that had to be done would be done in the evenings and on weekends,

Discipline is a huge component of developing the right mindset.

I must also urge you to keep an open mind – you can only acquire real knowledge if you are prepared to look at all opinions and angles regarding everything and learn to develop critical thinking which will lead you to have your own opinions,.

Opinions are a critical factor in the path to your success.

In my business, I conducted huge amounts of research concerning my industry and the marketplace – I looked at all opinions from investment analysts, to workers on the ground and everything in between.

This gave me not only the basis for the numerous discussions I had with existing and potential clients but also to put forward my own ideas and opinions, which paved the way for future discussions.

Clients would come to respect my research and opinions, even if they didn’t agree with them.

#2 – Use Imagery and Visualization

Both of these are extremely valuable tools and ‘seeing is believing’ and in some schools of thought, the mind doesn’t differentiate between ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ situations.

Now your emotions may and that is one reason we need to keep them calm and controlled and this article discusses the subject in much greater detail.

I was skeptical when I first heard of imagery and visualization, but I am no longer and use it personally.

One thing Fernando Raymond has talked to me about is the power of visualization and belief and I am ‘connecting the dots’ so speak with the scientific and mystical worlds!

One thing to think about here and that is your brain is predictive, rather than reactive – it will always try to mount a response to a situation based upon past knowledge and it will continue to update the responses as it is fed new experiences and knowledge.

Visualization and imagery are part of the experiences and knowledge.

Your brain lives in the ‘now,’ as should you.

#3 – Live In The Now

Forget the past, present, and future – it is all about the ‘now.’

We are all guilty of living in the past and dreaming of the future – one is beneficial and the other is not.

Dreaming about the future will be part of your goals, aspirations and fall into the imagery and visualization category.

Living in the past is futile – simply because you cannot change it.

With regard to my own life, I used to have many regrets and I would dwell on everything bad that happened to me endlessly :

“If only I hadn’t done that, if only I thought about that deal and if only I had never hired that person are things that used to cross my mind many times…

But I realized that there was a reason for doing what I did at that time – I am not the person today that I was 20 years ago.

I have evolved, learned, discovered, matured…call it what you want, but since it is in my nature to evolve, I decided one day that I cannot keep living in the past!

It is so easy to do and I made that fatal mistake – you have to move on and whilst you may regret many things you did, you must also applaud the many things you did and whether the good outweighed the bad, or vice versa, there was a reason at that time for either success or failure.

I believe that everything happens for a reason, but that reason may not be apparent to us at the time – call it ‘spiritual’ or whatever, but that is just my belief and of course, you are free to have yours.

For me, I believe you should understand the past, but don’t dwell on it – it is what you do now, or today that counts and you can change what you do in a heartbeat, if you really want to.

Entrepreneurs are agile, quick thinking, make decisions and yes, they do ‘feel’ their ‘past,’ but most live in the ‘now.’

#4 – Stop Trying To Win

What I learned in Russia changed my perspective on ‘winning.’

I was taught that if I didn’t try to win, then I couldn’t lose!

It again is counter-intuitive – especially in the world of an entrepreneur and a Martial Artist.

But as the explanation continued, it made perfect sense – it was explained to me about how people who are obsessed with winning, cannot handle losing as it can damage their psyche.

The first thing I would learn was about survival and the importance of it.

Anything can and will happen in this world and the more we are able to deal with the ‘anything,’ the better.

In the world of business, we know that so many companies fail in the first year and the remainder doesn’t make it past 5!

So are we not better off spending our time learning to survive our first 1 – 5 years in business?

Think of two boxers in a grudge match and after all of the pre-fight hype, they are ready for the opening bell and one comes out and tries to blast the other away, as they feel that they have the power and strength to do so.  The other is calm and simply absorbs the onslaught, but in no way ‘cowers’ or looks frightened and intimidated – eventually the calmer boxer spots an opportunity and capitalizes on it and…knockout…he wins.

Through learning how to survive, the boxer spotted an opportunity and through the opportunity, he won…but the winning was part of a process.  In business, too many people go all out to win and then in eagerness, they would make a mistake and lose with the result being almost depression – I have seen it many times.

When I was building my company in the early days, my business partner and I would go to the bar when we didn’t win a deal – this was not to drown our sorrows but to sit down in a nice environment and work out where we went wrong.  There was no real emotion attached to this, just a cold, factual discussion concerning what we did and more importantly, what we didn’t do.

Conversely, when we won a deal, we would simply carry on as if nothing had happened, because that was what we were here to do and I was watching a panel of footballers discussing a match on television and one of the pundits was getting extremely excited about how the goalkeeper had made a fantastic save and the others agreed except for one – he pointed out that it was his job to do so and that is why he was paid!

Also, replace the word ‘failure’ with ‘learning.’

You are always learning and failure is simply a part of the process.

#5 – Control Your Emotions

Most of us get far too emotional – the experiences and rollercoaster rides of extreme happiness and total depression, plus everything in between leave us mentally and physically strained and this is where again, I will revert back to the Martial Arts.

When Chris Chappell taught me all about standing meditation in the internal arts, it was once again counter-intuitive – he explained that in order to learn how to move, you need to learn how to stand still and when you practice standing in the correct manner, every cell in your body is oscillating and vibrating and in simple terms, you are getting a full internal workout without seemingly moving.

When I first did this and because of my damaged hip, I was literally shaking and had to be held up – internally my brain was asking “what is happening here” and I then went back to the reference point I had from working with the Cossack Whip and started to breathe and regain control.

You have to find a way to test yourself and that can only come from when you feel fear or discomfort.  For me, as I have explained, Martial Arts played an important role, but there were many other ways.

The best way to do it is to go through the body and for example, if you are going to practice standing meditation, then start with say 3 minutes a day and work up gradually to 30.  During the process, you will experience emotional responses that will make you want to give up, but you must continue and keep building reference points.

It may be setting a daily task such as a mile run or walk, depending on what you prefer, or to spend double the recommended time to learn a new language, but you have to take yourself out of your comfort zone and see how you respond.

In my office once I was asked by a guy who asked me how to develop the mind and this was way back and before I had really gone deeper into the subject.

He was a fit guy who always went to the gym and I asked him how many press-ups he could do and he said “around 50.”

I told him to do 500 and right now on the office floor – he looked at me with disbelief and I once again confirmed it.  He cranked out 50 with ease and then got out another 10 before collapsing.

I told him to keep going and it didn’t matter if it took all day and he was working in sets of one rep a minute – he was down to that in the end and to around 300, he was screaming in pain and shouting “come on” to himself and “do it,” and he then went into an almost tearful state as he was finding it so hard. I told him to quit and he refused, so I told him to stop expending all of that emotional energy, to take a deep breath and focus.

The change was immediate and now he was steely-eyed and determined as he finished to a round of applause from the office.

He couldn’t pick up the phone for a week, but he had learned a great deal from that experience and so did other members in the office.

Use your imagination and you can see how the humble press-up can build a strong mind and how during the process of a seemingly impossible task, you can go through so many emotional states and then come out of it in a calm state!

Whatever you do, make sure you are medically fit to do it, so check with your doctor and also take things slowly and deliberately at first.  it is far easier to work up and better than starting off like a maniac and the crashing and burning.

#6 – Never Forget Hard Work

This is both the easiest and hardest part because firstly, everyone has the capacity to do it and secondly, most people will not do it and even if they do, will not do it consistently and this alone will set you up for failure.

The press-up situation I described above would not have been possible for someone who was not used to hard work before trying it and in the case of the guy in question, he worked out regularly at the gym and hard…just that he hadn’t tested himself in the field of 500 press-ups!

Hard work will always beat ‘smart work’ and at least in the beginning – taking consistent action will naturally push you forward as long as that action is in the right direction and you want to think about doing the ‘right’ work and not simply working for the sake of working.

Another way to do it is to think of one saying that many of you have heard:

“Practice makes perfect.”  But it doesn’t if it is the wrong type of practice, so:

“Perfect practice makes perfect.”

Working hard and consistently is a trait many entrepreneurs naturally perform or did when I was starting out.  In today’s world there is a danger of not taking this part seriously and for many reasons – technology, laziness, and a generally different environment in respect of how children grow up, but it is an essential component of success.

#7 – Keep Testing Yourself

You will only grow if you push the boundaries.

It is easy to get comfortable as an entrepreneur and especially when we get a taste of success.

It is vital to remember how you got to be where you are today and if you are just starting, the burning desire that you have deep inside you that is pushing you to start.

I remember doing what people would regard as ‘stupid’ things – jumping into ice cold water in the winter just to prove I could do it, deciding I was going to take an educational course in half of the normal time period and simply challenging the status quo in pretty much everything.

It didn’t matter whether I succeeded or not, just that I put myself in the frame of mind to ‘do it,’ just as the famous advert says!

I’m not suggesting that you do what I did as you have to find your own way, only that you do push the boundaries and never accept the ‘normal.’

Only you can decide who ‘you’ are going to be and there is nothing more than ideas and guidance that anyone else can offer you.

Work hard, work smart, push the boundaries, test yourself and never stop learning!


Last modified: June 25, 2019