by Todd Palmer, author of “From Suck to Success: A Guide For Extraordinary Entrepreneurship“
Without exception, the greatest factor that determines whether your business and life will suck three years from now is your mind-set today. It really is that simple. Your success as an entrepreneur almost always results from how you look at the world. All of the rest is the details you can learn along the way. But if you look at the world in a way that promotes success, you will become successful. It’s only a matter of time. If not, you will end up stuck in a stressful, costly world of suck.
While the idea that your mind-set determines your future might seem ominous to you, the good news is that it’s not very complicated to reprogram our brains. It’s actually pretty simple to shift your mind-set. However, it’s not easy. It takes a lot of hard work. But it’s simple. In fact, I’ve never met an entrepreneur who couldn’t develop a mind-set that set themselves up for success. I’ve met many who didn’t, but I’ve yet to meet one who couldn’t.
To use an analogy, if your business and your life were a car, your mind-set would be the fuel. You need the right type and amount of fuel for your car to run. The same is true with your mind-set and success. If you use the wrong fuel — in this case, the wrong mind-set — your car won’t run, and your engine will become damaged. Try putting unleaded fuel in a car with a diesel engine, or vice versa, and see what I mean. (Actually, please don’t try that; it really will damage your car.) Only the right type of fuel — in this case, the right mind-set — will allow your car to move forward. And what about the amount of fuel? If you don’t continually add fuel to your car, it will eventually stop. You can’t just fill it up one time and drive it for years.
You need to keep filling up your car with the right type of fuel. In our case, you need to keep filling up your business and personal life with the right perspective, the right mind-set.
When I hit bottom, as much as I thought what got me there was a collection of bad decisions, the truth was it all started with having the wrong mind-set. I was using the wrong fuel for my engine — trying to be a big staffing company, build a big team, and be everything to everyone. I also stopped filling up my engine with fuel. Had I connected regularly with other business owners or hired a coach to walk with me along the way, their influence on me would have shifted my mind-set and kept my engine topped off from 1997 until 2006. Instead, I was running on the fumes of the wrong type of thinking for almost a decade. When something went wrong, I didn’t seek new or better information. I went back to doing more of what got me in the mess in the first place. A friend of mine refers to our tendency to fall back on the familiar, even if it means digging a deeper hole, as “saluting the flag of the past.” That phrase really resonated with me when I heard it the first time. Sometimes, we need to let go of the flag of the past and look forward to the flag of the future.
After hiring a coach to help me, I started learning to shift my mind-set. That was powerful. The more I shifted my thinking, the more my path forward became clearer. I learned what to say yes to and, almost more importantly, what to say no to by identifying what I was unwilling to accept moving forward. Almost immediately after starting to shift my mind-set, my business and personal lives both began to improve.
Mind-set is tough. It’s the biggest thing that separates suck from success. And one of the best ways to maintain a healthy mind-set is to not be afraid to ask for help. From a coach to a group of colleagues to trusted friends, you have many options for getting help.
I learned this lesson the hard way. My mind-set since I can remember has been that I could always only rely upon myself: “I can always take care of myself. I don’t need other people.”
When I was five, my father died unexpectedly; he was only forty-five. My older brother was a senior in high school, and he left the state to take advantage of an athletic scholarship. My older sister was getting married and moved to Arizona with her new husband. And my mom, who was my primary caregiver and the prototypical stay-at-home mom of the 1970s, had to go to work.
So, within ninety days, all the people in my life left me as a five-year-old. The story I told myself after that was, “I can’t rely on other people. They can disappear fast. I can only rely upon myself.” That’s a great trait for an entrepreneur — until it’s not.
I carried that mind-set with me when I started my business. I’m going to rely on me, I said. I learned all the parts of the job. I learned accounting, I learned operations, and I told myself I could do it all. In growing and scaling the company, I was hiring people. But I was not really empowering those people. And I was not leading those people correctly, yet. So I got $600,000 into debt.
After hitting rock bottom, I gave up and got help. I read. I hired a coach to help me get out of debt. And I learned to identify the mind-set I’d had. I forced myself to get rid of that mind-set of “I can do everything; I can be all things to all people.”
My entire life changed when I finally asked for help. Today, my motto when I find myself stuck is I need to get help.
Please learn from my mistakes and practice getting help from the start.
Todd Palmer is highly sought-after speaker, executive coach and longtime CEO committed to supporting entrepreneurs because he believes that an entrepreneur alone, is an entrepreneur at risk. As the CEO/Entrepreneur of Diversified Industrial Staffing for over 25 years, Palmer knows the struggles business leaders face in creating work/life integration. He is author of “From Suck to Success: A Guide For Extraordinary Entrepreneurship“.