One of the stressors over which we have the most control is mindset. But what is a healthy entrepreneurial mindset?
A healthy entrepreneurial mindset is determined by how we think about, appraise and approach events–in our lives and our businesses–and ourselves.
Mindset profoundly affects levels of stress and distress. We can put ourselves into fight or flight with a simple thought or two.
When we are in fight or flight, we flip our lids. That means we lose contact with our CEO-self, the executive part of the brain.
As a result, we can’t focus our attention, take in new information, access creative problem-solving, manage emotions, or create and execute plans. But these skills are essential to running a business.
How can you prevent yourself from flipping your lid? By cultivating a healthy entrepreneurial mindset.
Why a healthy entrepreneurial mindset is important
A healthy entrepreneurial mindset helps keep us in balance by reducing the stress we experience. Less stress means we can go about the business of running a business much more effectively.
A healthy mindset is based on resilience. Resilience is a set of crucial and learnable life skills. These skills enable us to resist losing our cool. They also improve the ability to work towards meaningful goals. These are strengths that are key to entrepreneurship.
It’s very important to note that a healthy entrepreneurial mindset involves a set of resilience skills that can be learned and cultivated.
Resilience isn’t the same as “being strong” or powering through, or even bouncing back. Resilience is a set of learned skills that help us navigate stress and stressors so that they take less out of us.
A healthy entrepreneurial mindset is not the same as toxic positivity
It is essential to note that a healthy mindset and a positive mindset are not one and the same.
There has been a lot of talk online lately about toxic positivity. It’s a Pollyanna-ish, false positivity that seeks to exclude all “negative vibes.” The idea behind what is called
toxic positivity is that you should (and can) banish all“negative” thoughts and replace them with positive ones.
But the truth is that we can’t stop negative thoughts from occurring (although we can learn to work wisely with negative thoughts and emotions). Nor can we banish so-called negative emotions, especially as entrepreneurs.
How to develop a healthy entrepreneurial mindset
Recognizing and attending to your distress is the healthy mindset to apply to so-called negative thoughts and emotions. Practicing self-kindness when you are in distress is one of the resilience skills inherent in a healthy entrepreneurial mindset.
It’s also important to recognize difficulty and distress is intrinsic to entrepreneurship. Having accurate expectations is part of a healthy entrepreneurial mindset. This is called realistic optimism.
It is true that entrepreneurship can involve fun, freedom and flexibility. However, to think that is the whole picture will set you up for a fall. Entrepreneurship is also hard work, struggle, failures and loss.
Living in the both/and is key. Entrepreneurship is both challenging and rewarding, and acknowledging this dual reality can help you cope better.
Stress can be good for you
How you think about the challenges of entrepreneurship also matters. Research has shown that people who believe stress is bad for them are more negatively affected by it. It’s important to think about stress as something that strengthens you.
It’s often said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m not sure about that, but we can grow from stress when we know how to mine it for its benefits.
Your capacity plays an important role in your mindset
It’s important to note that your mileage may vary with these skills, especially if you’re just learning them. All of these healthy entrepreneurial mindset skills rest on a foundation of capacity.
Your capacity is affected by stress, both current and past. Past stress can also potentiate current stress. Exercising healthy entrepreneurial mindset skills will be harder when the going is tough and easier on the good days. If you’ve had adverse experiences in life, these skills may be harder to learn and practice.
That’s just how the brain works.
And because that’s just how the brain works, it’s important to be kind to yourself when you’re learning these new skills. A mind that is stressed by self-judgment and self-criticism can’t take in and master new information.
It’s also important to note that you are stronger with support. You’re stronger with support because having company on the path helps keep you from flipping your lid, so you can more effectively learn and achieve mastery.
If you want to up your resilience skill learning game, or you want support for implementing healthy entrepreneurial mindset skills, ask for help.
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