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Tactics Successful Entrepreneurs Use to Keep Their Minds Sharp

“If it is to be, it’s up to me”. One way or another, success is in your own hands – and mind, and heart.

In doing some research for an article years ago, I came across an excerpt from John C. Maxwell’s book, “Developing the Leader Within You”.

Maxwell tells a story he read in a Norman Vincent Peale book where Peale was walking through the twisted streets of Kowloon in Hong Kong and came upon a tattoo studio. In the window were samples of tattoos available where you had an unlimited amount of choices. One of those choices was a tattoo that read “Born to Lose”.  He walked into the shop, in astonishment, and pointing to those words, asked the Chinese tattoo artist, “Does anyone really have that terrible phrase, Born to Lose, tattooed on his body?”   He replied, “Yes, sometimes.”  “But, I said, I just can’t believe that anyone in his right mind would do that. The Chinese man simply tapped his forehead and in broken English said, Before tattoo on body, tattoo on mind.”

Never were so few words so powerful. The mind plays an important role in everyone’s success.

If you’re like many self-employed business owners, you have probably experienced the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. At times, you might even have caught yourself buying into the doom and gloom.

Despite daily challenges, successful entrepreneurs arm themselves by practicing certain tactics to keep their mind and mindset consistently sharp.  These are the same elements that have and continue to work for my clients and me for years:

Assume PAAR – Power, Accountability, Authority and Responsibility over the results you want to achieve and the life you want to lead. Successful entrepreneurs don’t wait for things to fall on their lap. They take a proactive approach and do what it takes to achieve their outcomes.  At times, entrepreneurs give away their personal power with self-limiting thoughts or attitudes.  They quit thinking of alternative ways to achieve success.  Entrepreneurs who embrace PAAR create solutions for each challenge.

Take a step ahead in spite of fear. Successful entrepreneurs take a proactive approach, don’t stop at small thinking, and are willing to stretch what is possible even if
they are uncomfortable. When fear appears, they don’t say, “I don’t have (fill in the blank).” They create a plan and work the plan.  They step ahead in spite of the fear.

Invest in Themselves. There is a major difference between ambitious entrepreneurs and ones that struggle. Successful entrepreneurs invest in themselves. They take chances when others don’t and they seek out resources rather than needlessly reinventing the wheel.  They realize that their mindset is critical to their success and they continuously feed it to improve it.

Adopt a Commitment Approach. Winning entrepreneurs have a commitment approach. They see a solution and they implement the solution.   They fully follow through and do what they say they are going to do.

There’s a story that illustrates these fundamental tools in action.  In the book, The Relationship Edge in Business, best-selling author Jerry Acuff shares a story:

Mike Accardi opened up a restaurant only to have it fail. He walked away from the business, moved with his wife and daughter from Tennessee to Louisiana where he went to school, quit school, and was extremely poor.  As Mike describes it, “I was kind of in the midst of an identity crisis.”

He took a clerk job, punched the clock daily, and settled into a boring routine. One evening he went to the store to pick up a prescription for his daughter and, while waiting in line, looked at a small rack of books on the counter and one caught his eye. It said “You can have anything you want.” It was The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. The book was 95 cents.  He didn’t have the money to purchase it after buying the medicine. So he went home, collected all of the returnable bottles in his house, went back to the drug store to cash them in, and bought the book.  He found a way to invest in himself.

He consumed every word in the book. He read the book again, a third time, wrote an outline and started to get excited.  He tells others that what he got most from the book is that you have to know what you want, write it down and put a time limit on it. At one point, he excitedly told his wife that he made a list of goals: a house, two new cars, property and, he said, he would have all of this in five years. Just five years…

His wife laughed, exclaiming that he wasn’t making enough to buy groceries. He decided to draw up a plan for his discretionary items and didn’t deviate from his plan. He made a commitment that he was going to have everything on his list. When they decided to move back to Memphis where their families were living, they discovered a second child was on the way.  At night he worked in his uncle’s liquor store while he spent the days looking for a career.

Each day, he checked his list and took the next step. It took six months to find a job where he became a full-time commissioned sales person.  Within two years, he was top five out of 42 salesmen where he stayed in the top five for the last 27 years.  But he didn’t get everything on his list in five years. Within just 3 1/2 years, he had everything on his list.

Successful entrepreneurs realize they must do things differently.  When you are committed, you control your income and your outcomes by the choices and actions
you choose to take.

Consider this assignment to help accelerate your results:

Notice if you’re blaming others (or the economy) and identify your responsibility for your outcomes. Change up the way you react to situations and look for alternative solutions.  Fully implement those solutions.

Invest in yourself. Whether it is reading a self improvement book each day, attending a workshop, or improving your knowledge base, feed your mind and invest in yourself.  An investment in you is an investment in your business, your clients, your relationships and your life.

Show up.  Eighty percent of success is about showing up.  Make a list on how you are (or are not) showing up in your business each day.  Do you get distracted playing solitaire on the computer during the day or take too many personal phone calls?  Set boundaries for yourself and others and/or reshape the way you work so you’re fully present.   

A minimum of each quarter, revisit this assignment and check your progress.  Often times it only takes a little shift in any one of these areas to start changing your results.

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