Mindset matters but it's just the start.
Everyone seems to have a business book recommendation.
Each one promising that after you turn the last page, you'll be ready to launch a successful startup.
But let's be honest.
You won't be able to build a business.
They're really only teaching one thing: mindset.
Why? Because the mindset is the low-hanging fruit when it comes to teaching business.
It's a pre-requisite for any business, big or small. It's universal.
It's possible to teach through engaging stories and anecdotes. And these make good books.
And good books make money.
You know what doesn't make an engaging book?
Fifty chapters about the complexities of setting up a company, managing your finances, accounting, marketing, public relations, and all the other things you need for a business.
But the truth is, you need to know all of those things too.
Picture this - you’re given the task of flying a plane around the world. You’ve never flown before.
Mindset is the fuel for the plane.
Most people won’t have enough fuel to get the plane off the ground. They won’t even try.
Some people will have enough fuel to get it off the ground. But partway through the journey, they’ll run out of fuel.
And they won’t know how to refuel.
Those with the right mindset will be able to continually refuel throughout the journey. They’ll have enough to make it to the destination.
But fuel doesn’t fly the plane. The pilot does.
And planes are complicated.
So while the fuel keeps the engine going, there’s a lot of complex controls for you to learn before and during the journey.
And even if you went to pilot school, flying a real plane is a whole different experience.
Not to mention you have to land the damn thing.
So what does the 'right' mindset look like? You can read the books, but my short version is:
1. It’s the ability to ignore the inner voice telling
you can’t by creating a louder inner voice telling you you can.
2. It’s the patience and resilience to keep trying again.
3. It’s the understanding that repeated failure is inevitable and should be treated as a learning experience, not an embarrassment.
4. It’s the curiosity and willingness to continually learn new things.
I'm not a psychologist. But as a parent of two small children, I see how my attitude affects their outlook on the world.
When they try something and fail, they look to me to see my reaction. If it’s negative, they internalise that.
Failure is bad.
If I’m always telling them their drawings are perfect, they’ll continually be striving for perfection.
Anything less than perfect is bad.
If you're struggling with mindset, reflect on your own childhood.
The attitudes of your parents and peers towards falling and getting back up again were probably ingrained early. If the approach was skewed, it could be time for a mindset makeover.
The best book on mindset I've read is Carol Dweck's 'The Growth Mindset'. Once you've grasped that, close the books.
Real business lessons begin in the field, not on the pages.
To wrap up:
Mindset is essential; it keeps you going.
It enables you to learn the things you need to learn and do the things you need to do.
But once you've got that right, it's all about doing. That's where the real business education lies.
Learn by taking action, failing, and then going at it again.