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How to Achieve a Winning Mindset

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are long over.

But for a moment, I want you to think back to the events that especially inspired you. What made you stand up and cheer for an athlete who performed a superhuman act of endurance, grace and sportsmanship? Whether it was Simone Biles defying physics, Michael Phelps earning stacks of gold medals or Katie Ledecky smashing world records, last year’s Olympians showed us what happens when talented, persistent individuals focus their minds on winning.

Many people think Olympic athletes are pure talent; that is, there’s something genetically special about them that sets them apart from other athletes. While this point could be argued for days on end, it minimizes the fact that these competitors are more than just at their peak physically; they also having a winning mindset. And it is that mindset that propels them to success.

While you may not have dreams of taking home an Olympic gold medal, developing a winning mindset can help you achieve your entrepreneurial goals. In this article, I will share the secrets to developing a mindset that will set you on course for significant financial success. But first let’s look at what the term “winning mindset” actually means.

What Is a Winning Mindset?

“Mindset” was first identified by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, PhD, who spent decades examining common themes among people who achieved significant success. Her research revealed that there’s no natural talent or “secret sauce” to achieving success; instead, the successful people she studied had what’s known as a growth mindset.

People who have the growth mindset ultimately believe that hard work, continual learning and dedication make the biggest difference in achieving their goals. They have a love of learning that drives them to continually seek out more knowledge and choose to use their intelligence and talent as a foundation. The growth mindset is the winning mindset: These people are constantly seeking to improve on their deficiencies, and they never grow tired of learning.

Conversely, people who lack success potential tend to possess a fixed mindset. These are the people who believe that their intelligence or their physical capabilities are fixed qualities and that there’s nothing more they can do to improve upon those attributes. Not surprisingly, these are the folks who eventually stagnate in their professional and personal lives. Rather than spending time developing their skills and attempting to learn more, they prefer to work with what they have. When they encounter problems, they choose to avoid examining what deficiencies may have led to those problems—and thus they choose to avoid strengthening themselves.

The Role of Passion and Heart

You pour your blood, sweat and tears into the life you’ve built for yourself. You feel passionate about the things you do, and that is reflected in your business.

It’s that passion that forms the link between you and those Olympians. It’s the indescribable, intrinsic desire to push yourself further and to keep achieving success because it brings you an overwhelming sense of joy and satisfaction. Passion is what keeps the proverbial midnight oil burning and brings you back to your office time and again despite the challenges and problems that await you.

But what exactly is passion? Dictionaries define it as “a strong inclination to an activity that is self-defining, that a person loves [and] finds important and in which regular time and energy are invested.”

Over the past decade, psychologists have taken an interest in passion. A number of studies have led to the publication of professional papers describing two types of passion: harmonious and obsessive.

Harmonious passion springs from an autonomous internalization of a specific activity into one’s identity. Research shows that harmonious passions contribute to continuous and ever-expanding psychological well-being. Harmonious passions help prevent the negative experiences that stem from psychological conflicts and from the sense of being ill at ease.

Obsessive passion, on the other hand, springs from a controlled internalization rather than an autonomous one, and it eventually comes to control a person, rather than to inspire or enhance the person’s life. Research also indicates that less-than-optimal—and even negative—outcomes can result from obsessive passion.

So how can you harness the power of harmonious passion and heart and create a winning mindset that will have a real impact on your entrepreneurial pursuits?

Four Ways to Unlock Your Own Winning Mindset

Unlocking your winning mindset isn’t about training harder or logging more hours. It’s about opening up your mind in such a way that you welcome new opportunities to learn. It’s about finding the things that give you joy and productivity; it’s about finding a work–life balance that makes you more successful both inside and outside the office.

Here are four ways you can use to start unlocking your own winning mindset:

  1. Get inspired. There’s a reason why successful entrepreneurs and athletes are quick to identify their mentors and role models. Inspiration is essential to creating a winning mindset, as it provides the blueprint you need to start building your own successes. Your role model doesn’t have to be someone in your particular industry or line of business, as long as that person is someone who has the kind of drive, passion and dedication you aspire to have for yourself.
  2. Stay physically fit. Fitness pros know this all too well, yet many fall short of their own recommendations. Your mind and your body are in tune with one another in such a way that staying physically fit can keep you mentally sharp. I discuss this in great detail in my book Mind Your Own Fitness: A Mindful Approach to Exercise and Nutrition, Volume 1 (CreateSpace 2012). Commit to a fitness regimen that doesn’t feel like it competes with your professional and personal lives. Spend some time running outside, take a few classes with a friend or just go for more walks with your family after dinner. Staying fit keeps your mind alert while keeping your body ready to handle the stress and pressure that often come with a successful professional life.
  3. Be enthusiastic! Passion and enthusiasm are tied together; one cannot exist without the other. Sure, there may be days when the last thing you want to do is go to the office; but when work consistently feels like a chore, you’ve lost the passion that’s essential to a winning mindset. Let your unbridled enthusiasm shine through at the office. Relish a challenge, tackle a problem with gusto or just revel in a victory with colleagues. Entrepreneurs with winning mindsets know that life isn’t meant to be lived in neutral mode.
  4. Celebrate with gratitude. People who have winning mindsets know to focus on the good things that have happened throughout the day. They’re not afraid to give themselves permission to celebrate successes; in fact, they’re grateful for those moments. People with a winning mindset take a moment to pause and acknowledge how far they’ve come and how far they have to go. They’re not daunted by that upcoming growth, and they’re always excited for the challenge!

A winning mindset isn’t about having a natural-born talent or being so intelligent that you feel like you don’t have to grow anymore. People with winning mindsets are continually focused on learning, on identifying and improving on their weaknesses and on being grateful for all the progress they make day after day.

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