In Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else, author Geoff Colvin says, “The best performers set goals that are not about the outcome but about the process of reaching the outcome.”
Successful entrepreneurs, leaders and other top performers understand that the journey is the destination. You never arrive. You work hard to succeed, and then you work twice as hard to maintain your success. It’s a slow grind. And it starts with your mindset.
A winning mindset, like success in business, isn’t handed to you. You have to build a winning mindset over time.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Don’t rely on your talent.
Steve Canal, marketing guru and author of The Mind of a Winner, says, “We all are good at something, but a winning mindset understands that the difference between making it a hobby or a business is the discipline and work you put behind it. Never just rely on your gift or talent.”
We all have some kind of talent, something that sets us apart from our peers. This can also be a potential trap. Consistent top performers don’t rely on their talent alone. They work on their craft. They investigate their weaknesses and target them like a heat-seeking missile.
In his book, Talent Is Never Enough: Discover the Choices That Will Take You Beyond Your Talent, leadership expert John C. Maxwell writes, “One of the paradoxes of life is that the things that initially make you successful are rarely the things that keep you successful.”
2. Build your grit.
Angela Duckworth, University of Pennsylvania professor and founder of Character Lab, penned The New York Times bestselling book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, which advocates that grit, not talent or luck, predicts high levels of achievement.
Duckworth defines grit as the combination of passion and perseverance for a unique, long-term goal. She argues that this ability to rebound from adversity and maintain focus is the greatest contributor to your success. Unlike IQ and other innate gifts, you can actually measure and then improve your grit.
Twelve years ago, I suffered a business loss during the economic downturn. I lost my primary source of income and had to close my local office as well as my offices in Los Angeles and New York. I had to lay off my staff of 15 people, except for my assistant. The next thing I did was get a job. I went back into management consulting but I wasn’t giving up on my business. My entrepreneurial pursuits became part-time. I focused on my business at night and on the weekends. I wasn’t depressed about my situation, I opted to demonstrate resilience. I did a personal inventory of my strengths and weaknesses and then did a retrospective on my business. I assessed what went right and what went wrong and then focused on my go-forward plan. After three years, I was able to quit my job and go back into full-time entrepreneurship.
3. Generate momentum with small steps.
In The Momentum Effect: How to Ignite Exceptional Growth, J.C. Larreche, the Alfred H. Heineken professor of marketing at INSEAD, writes, “Momentum leaders are not lucky — they are smart. They have discovered the source of momentum and, with it, the beginnings of a smarter way to exceptional growth. Managers often talk about ‘riding the wave.’ Momentum leaders aren’t that passive. They live by this motto: First build your wave, then ride it.”
You reach big goals with consistent baby steps, not intermittent fusillades. It’s not always exciting. However, you have to give yourself credit for small gains. They build momentum and provide much-needed life lessons.