By John Binkley
Running a business is no easy feat. When disaster strikes or change comes knocking, a strong mental attitude is a must to not only lead, but to succeed.
The achievements of many organizations can often rest on a delicate edge. Growth and success may be a client or two away. Yet equally, an unforeseen downturn could be enough to upset that fine balance and cause some turmoil.
Plus, companies do not operate in a vacuum. The world around us constantly changes and businesses that fail to adapt can find themselves struggling to stay relevant and profitable in the long term.
In my experience, executives can’t just sit on the sidelines and keep doing what found them success initially. In order to grow and develop their business, they have to lead, adapt and be ready to face any challenge head-on.
However, committing to these big decisions often takes strong mental fortitude. Every choice will present some sort of risk, and in the face of this unpredictability, it can be easy to fall back into the comfort of familiarity.
Imagine how different Zoom’s trajectory would’ve been if the company’s leadership didn’t seize the opportunity that the COVID-19 pandemic presented them, and instead maintained their status quo.
Mental toughness doesn’t just affect the quality and cadence of decision-making – it can also be crucial when keeping operations on course and teams focused, even when things aren’t going to plan.
Despite being at the very core of leadership, mental strength is something I think many people often overlook when stepping into a leadership position.
After reading Vistage’s recent article, Shirzad Chamine: Why mental fitness is the X-factor, I felt inspired to explore this topic and discuss how to improve mental toughness, based on both my own background and the experiences of business owners we have worked with at Generational Group over the years.
Before issuing any exercises or action points, it’s first important to assess how mentally fit you are already. An excellent way to do this is to conduct a positive quotient test, otherwise known as a PQ exam.
Based on the New York Times bestselling book Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine, this short assessment takes just a few minutes to complete, but asks powerful questions that can shape your long-term future, such as:
As well as being a great way of gauging your mental strength now, these PQ tests can also be taken at regular intervals and used as a way of tracking your progress over time.
Mental health and exercise are closely linked. Those who spend time in the gym, jogging, or simply walking every day can reduce their risk of depression and anxiety by as much as 30%.
This can be more valuable than you may realize. Leadership roles can create a great deal of stress, which cannot only affect decision-making and business growth, but spiral into your personal and social life.
Regular exercise can naturally relieve the build-up of stress and negative emotions, while carving out time for fitness can double as a way to self-reflect on important decisions in a different setting.
It’s also important to recognize that the intensity of the exercise should have little to no correlation with its impact on your mental health. Even a short walk or cycle ride can give your mind a much-needed workout and significantly reinforce your mental fortitude.
Not everything in the world of business will go your way. When it doesn’t, it’s important not to dwell too much on your mistakes and weaknesses – studies show that focusing on these negative aspects can often unintentionally amplify them, leading to further problems.
Instead of meticulously analyzing why something didn’t go as planned, try to focus some of your time and energy on what you do well as a leader. By concentrating on positive traits, the likelihood is you’ll actually see an improvement in your performance.
This principle doesn’t just apply to those in the C-suite either. When you next meet with your management team, don’t put the focus solely on what they must do to improve. Make a considered effort to highlight the positive traits that you want to see them grow and nurture.
Over time, you’ll witness more confident and proficient team members – and give you the confirmation you need to take a more optimistic approach to how you view yourself, particularly during tough times.
It’s not enough to just have your job title displayed prominently as a CEO. To exert influence and drive your business forward, it’s crucial to get the buy-in and respect of employees across the company.
Doing this is often easier said than done. You can’t be everywhere at once, and if individuals disagree with your decision-making, it can be common for people to undermine your leadership and stifle your reach and impact.
While you’ll never please everyone, you can give your organization the best chance of success by creating a culture where respect and honesty are mutual throughout the business. To do this, consider:
Building this positive environment will go a long way towards supporting your own personal mental strength and the combined fortitude of your company as a whole.
Even though change is a constant companion for executives, it’s vital to strive for some source of consistency and continuity as a business owner.
If your organization always needs your expertise to fight fires and drive it forwards, you’ll wear down your mental hardness and sap the energy you could otherwise be investing in bettering yourself and your business.
To create a solid foundation for both you and your stakeholders, establish a strategic growth plan at the core of your business. This gives your company a roadmap for consistent growth, ensuring you and your key stakeholders are firmly aware of what steps must be taken at what time to reach your strategic goals.
With this blueprint to work from, you can feel more assured about the direction of your business and your ability to navigate uncertainty, which will do wonders for your wellbeing. Plus, when everyone is aligned with and implementing your strategy, this should free up time that you can put towards improving your own mental toughness!
While strong mental fortitude is a useful asset in all walks of life, it is especially valuable for those who own and run their own businesses.
If the last few years have taught us anything, it is how much the world can change in a short window of time. Your mental attitude is your brace for the inevitable ebbs and flows that come with entrepreneurship – keeping you focused in the most testing periods.
However, a strong mindset isn’t the only tool needed for success – a robust strategic plan and a trusted support network are also key. Not only will this help align your team toward a shared vision and put you on a stable path to growth, but it can also facilitate your journey to an optimal sale down the road.
Creating and implementing an effective strategic plan is not child’s play. Our professional associates at Generational Consulting Group have decades of combined experience in organizations of all shapes and sizes, and offer the insight and expertise to determine the ideal strategic plan your enterprise needs.
A strategic growth plan aims to realize long-term improvements by aligning stakeholders and investors with your company’s vision. By outlining key KPIs and goals to be fulfilled over the course of 3 to 5 years, we help companies generate sustainable, lasting growth.
A tactical acceleration plan is focused more as a short-term solution (3 to 12 months). For companies looking for immediate growth, our experts work to make changes to the organization that immediately grow cash flow and profitability.
Both our approaches have proven track records of success and are tailored to help companies of any size reassess their processes and reaffirm their targets. You can see for yourself how our consultancy service has helped our clients:
Knowledge is a powerful aspect of good mental fortitude, which is why I’d urge you to attend a Generational Growth and Exit Planning Conference. Here you will gain vital insight into business growth and how to maximize the value of your eventual exit – you’ll feel your mind getting stronger with each passing minute!
Alternatively, you can also gain plenty of helpful tips and information by exploring the Generational insights page.
I hope this article has given you some insight as to why mental fortitude is so important, how to strengthen yours, and how the foundation of a strategic plan for your mental fitness and overall business success is vital.
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