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9 Ways to Develop a Leadership Mindset

It took me years to realize that success is not achieved over long periods of time, but instantaneously in life's brief, honest moments.

9 Ways to Develop a Leadership Mindset

Posted Friday April 07th, 2017 by in Analysis + Strategy.

This article originally appeared in my Inc. column.

Admittedly, it took me years to realize that success is achieved not over long periods of time, but instantaneously in life's brief, honest moments.

I can remember each instance when a thought or belief occurred to me out of the blue, which forever changed my outlook on my entrepreneurial journey. In fact, I have found time and time again that what separates brilliant leaders from average ones is having the right mindset from the start, and that insight helps explain why hard work alone doesn't always produce successful outcomes. In fact, this epiphany about adopting a mindset for rapid success is exactly what led me to name this column, "Success in Seconds."

So, to help you get into the right frame of mind for achieving success, here are my 9 easy mental tricks to become a better leader, which I've personally learned by working with leaders from local restaurateurs to Warren Buffett himself:

1. Be Overly Grateful

We all have thoughts of gratitude at times; for instance, when you're in the car, thinking about how much you love working with one of your employees. Or, when you're reading on the weekend, thinking about how much your spouse means to you. But, how often do you act on those thoughts?

To prevent those thoughts from slipping away, I now write them down or I pick up my phone and craft a thank-you email right there on the spot. And while I'm at it, I think of someone else I should thank, too, because there's no such thing as being too grateful for exceptional leaders.

2. Adopt a Servant Attitude

At the start of the year, my agency holds our strategic planning session. When it came to re-clarifying our purpose this year, one of my colleagues said, "help others win."

It hit me like a ton of bricks: helping others win is exactly the attitude we reflect at the agency, and we had never been able to put it so succinctly before. Honestly, I can't take credit for our servant attitude; rather, my business partner has always naturally possessed an honorable, servant mentality, and instilled it throughout the entire organization from the beginning. Knowing that our sole purpose is to serve makes a lot of our employee and client interactions a lot clearer from a leadership perspective.

3. Develop an Abundance Mindset

A lot has been written on the power of an abundance mindset, which describes the personal belief that there is always enough to go around (as opposed to a scarcity mindset, in which someone believes resources are in short supply).

Personally, I always thought I had an abundance mentality. I would say things like, "I feel like I have everything I need in friendships, happiness, marriage, travel and more--the only thing left is money!"

That's when I realized that although I thought I had an abundance mindset, I actually had a scarcity mindset about the one thing I focused on most - money! Since then, I've been reminding myself that I have plenty--no matter how much I have--and to be overly grateful, as great leaders always are.

4. Give Your Time

Plenty of successful people give financial resources to good causes. But, money isn't the most valuable thing in the world--time is.

By physically removing yourself from the daily grind and helping others--either in mentorship or in a program like Junior Achievement--you'll not only change the lives of others, but you'll also gain clarity and perspective from the time you'll spend away from the daily grind.

I've found that giving my time to others gives me the mental rest of a vacation with the added benefit of helping others--a win-win! That's why brilliant leaders always give away their most valuable resource, time.

5. Aim Higher

Achieving a true growth mindset takes a gutsy commitment to going big. However, I've found that entrepreneurs who want to grow steadily at a small clip, like 10 percent per year, never take the big business steps that are necessary to evolve with our rapidly-changing world. Therefore, they are surprised to find that they can't achieve growth at all.

On the other hand, entrepreneurs who have take-over-the-world aspirations learn faster, adapt more quickly and are better able to recognize roadblocks before they even arrive, making their growth almost a guaranteed result.

Simply aiming higher will put you in the right frame of mind for achieving growth and avoiding pitfalls, which is exactly what the best leaders must do as stewards of their organizations.

6. Admit Your Weaknesses

There are two kinds of entrepreneurs: those who need to keep control of every job in the company, and those who can't wait to shed every job but the one key role that fits the entrepreneur.

I'm in the latter camp, and now I serve only as a creative director and strategist instead of doing the twenty jobs I had when we started. However, what I've learned is that to appropriately delegate, you must first be able to admit your weaknesses. Without that first critical step, you'll never take the leap to hiring around your weaknesses, and there's simply no way for an entrepreneur to scale up without a complementary team.

7. Accentuate Your Strengths

I consider myself decent at admitting weaknesses, but it turns out I'm not so good at accentuating strengths. For instance, I've always been comfortable with my writing, but never considered all the ways in which I could use writing to serve my company.

Now, I've settled into not only creative copywriting, but also proposal writing, thought leadership writing and lead magnet writing. All of these roles fit within my core job of overseeing creative and strategy, but they also let me fully flex my best strength in every way it serves the company.

8. Prioritize Yourself

While adopting a servant attitude is a critical piece of having a growth mindset, prioritizing yourself over anyone else is arguably even more important. This is akin to putting on your oxygen mask before the person next to you on the airplane; if you aren't taking care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually, you can't effectively give your time and energy to others.

So, don't be ashamed to meditate, take long walks, enjoy a longer lunch and ignore your phone on Saturday (I admit, I'm still working on that one). A burnt-out entrepreneur is no good to anyone, and it's your responsibility to keep yourself in great shape.

9. Use the Present Tense

This is a trick I learned in a goal-planning guide I picked up from Sandler Training. It talks about the importance of using "I am" or "I have" instead of "I want."

What I've learned the hard way is that wanting something only leads to more wanting. But, affirming in the present tense allows your subconscious mind to work behind the scenes to make your affirmation a reality. I know this sounds like voodoo, but trust me--I've seen it work too many times, firsthand and with other entrepreneurs, to ignore it. So, the next time you're wishing you could be a multimillionaire, say to yourself, "I am a multimillionaire!"

As I always say, being an entrepreneur has taught me 10 percent more about business, 100 percent more about people and 1,000 percent more about myself. These small tweaks in your mindset can make all the difference between stagnating in obscurity or achieving incredible success.

Individually, each of these tricks is a powerful tool to keep us entrepreneurs moving forward through the ups and downs. But together, these 9 ways provide a powerful toolbox to thrive and become the brilliant leaders we know we can be!


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