Character Trumps MindsetJul 27, 2021
By Dino Tartaglia.
At Success Engineers, we’re all about:
- Simplicity not Complexity
- Brutal Honesty (with kindness) not Fluff and Platitudes
- Tailored advice not ‘Blueprints’ designed for only one type of Entrepreneur
- Fundamentals not chasing Shortcuts, Hacks and Trends
- Strategic, Effective Thinking not Tactical (reactive) Activity (aka ‘Busywork’)
and above all …
- CHARACTER over ‘Mindset’.
In fact, we made the core of our business model all about Character. We call it ‘Character-led Business’.
So, what do I mean when I say ‘Character’?
Well, in terms of our ‘mindset model’, the Identity Ladder, which explains the relationship between what you believe about yourself, the world around you, how you act in the moment, and your resulting behaviours - we define ’Character’ as the outward expression of your Identity, who you are, and the beliefs you have about yourself and the world.
Character, then, gives rise to ‘Characteristics’, or ‘Traits’, such as:
- Mental Toughness (this is made up of components, such as Resilience, for example)
- Personal Responsibility (Internal Accountability)
... and so on.
Traits Before States
With all the focus on Mindset, Mindset, Mindset, you’d be forgiven for wondering - or, indeed, seriously questioning - why the heck we buck the trend here.
Simply, Beliefs and Values (what largely creates your Identity) drive Mindset and Behaviours, the immediate, in-the-moment stuff, but CHARACTER drives Outcomes, the longer-term plays.
In other words, Character ‘Traits’ before Mental ‘States’.
Character affects the patterns that emerge over time, and the great news is, Character can be developed. If you value honesty, but you’re not as honest as you’d like, you can change that. If you’d love to be more courageous, you can learn to develop your capacity to handle fear
(contrary to some nonsense you may see kicking around the InterWeb, you never truly lose certain fears - you simply develop the courage to step towards them and, eventually, ‘neutralise’ their impact on you. Courage is the capacity to handle fear, not the removal of it).
Character is formed through challenge, by stretching ourselves in uncomfortable and/or unfamiliar situations. Character is long-term and enduring.
Mindset is really our moment-to-moment decision making, how we feel and choose to react or respond to those feelings (even if it doesn’t feel like a choice), and this drives the resulting actions we take.
So, why is this useful for us as Entrepreneurs and Business Owners, and how does this play out in reality?
Well, let me share a particularly inspirational story that amply (and aptly) illustrates this.
Character in Action
It’s the Barcelona Olympics, men’s 400m semi-final, 1992. Derek Redmond was at his athletic peak as he took his starting-line position. Everything seemed fine until, 150m into the race ... it wasn’t.
Along the back straight, Redmond's hamstring snapped. He fell to the ground in excruciating physical pain. After all the training he’d put in, imagine the man’s emotional pain as began to realise his competition was over.
At the 200m mark, Redmond decided he would finish the race ... by hobbling his way there. 100m out, his father, seeing his son’s difficulties, came onto the track to help him. Together, father and son walked to the finish line, so that Redmond could complete the race.
The film of this, and that story, have been used tirelessly by Nike, Visa, and the IOC.
It isn’t so much that it’s inspirational. The real appeal? The courage and commitment shown by Redmond. We value those characteristics. They show us something about the human being exhibiting them, something at once both aspirational and trustworthy.
Mindset didn’t get Derek Redmond to the finish line that day. Self-discipline wasn’t the reason he became an icon for so many. Forged in challenge, his Character wrote the man into Olympic history.
God Loves a Trier
There’s an old expression that my mum used to always level at me when I chanced my arm as a kid to, for example, push for an ice cream after I’d been refused, or get some pocket money even when I’d been out of line and forfeited my allowance for that week.
‘God loves a Trier, son.’ Meaning, ‘You’ve got another thing coming, because only God will give you credit for pushing your luck here, laddo!’
Of course, there’s a really positive flipside to this because when we see someone really pushing themselves to do what they said they’d do - despite all the odds - we feel naturally supportive. We WANT them to make it. And there’s a powerful force in play when this happens.
A display of that person’s Character or, more accurately, their most attractive and magnetic characteristics, the ones that draw us to want to be like them, to identify with and recognise the best in ourselves.
It’s not just inspirational. It’s also aspirational.
And that’s precisely why Redmond wrote himself into Olympic history. He didn’t give up, when he would have been wholly entitled to - when no one would have blamed him. He didn’t collapse in a heap on the track, only for his father to come and ‘rescue’ him.
He got up and doggedly limped - clearly in excruciating agony - for the finishing line. And only when it became clear that he might not make it - despite trying his hardest - did Redmond Sr step onto the track to help his son.
Character in Action.
Redmond displayed aspects of the very best of us - characteristics of Courage and Commitment, Integrity and Tenacity - that we all aspire to have more of.
Why This Matters
When you stepped out into the wild, and chose to become an Entrepreneur or Business Owner, the chances are that you hadn’t a clue what lay ahead of you.
In fact, it’s an odds-on cert that you were wholly unprepared for the brutality of working for yourself, the death-or-glory impact of the market choosing to use or ignore you, the demands on your time and headspace to be ‘in work’ and ‘at home’ when EVERYTHING was pulling you in one mode or the other (usually work when you were needed at home, right?).
What they didn’t tell you when you made the leap was this; business mechanics and strategy are pretty simple, once you know what needs to be done.
YOU, on the other hand, are a whole level up from that in terms of the challenge to succeed. Success, it turns out, is neither magical nor mysterious. There are no hacks or fancy, secret shortcuts to avoid the pain and uncertainty of figuring out what works and what doesn’t work.
Success is, as the Master Philosopher Jim Rohn put it, ‘...the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.’
Showing up. Doing the basics. Consistently.
And THAT, my friend, requires Character. Traits that deliver the work, the conviction, the stamina, the capacity to pursue the vision come what may.
For most of us, there’s a gap between what we KNOW we should do and what we ACTUALLY do. In that gap, you’ll find the stuff you need to work on. And all of it will, ultimately, come down to how you develop yourself to show up, to build the capacity to understand what ACTUALLY needs to be done and get that done - when it needs to be done - even when it isn’t work that you want to do, or even when it’s work that scares you or makes you uncomfortable.
Character is responsible for this.
EXECUTION - Doing the Work - is what actually matters (assuming you’ve figured out what you need to do, and what to avoid that isn’t helpful to your progress). And that works so much better if you focus on Building a Better Business before you consider building bigger or chasing ‘more’.
Grow Better - Build Better - BE Better, as we say at Success Engineers.
Because the thing they didn’t tell you when you jumped into this was that it really was all about YOU.
You were (and are) ‘enough’, but that still doesn’t mean you’ve got the business acumen you need, or the skills required, the level of Clarity, the Characteristics of Commitment, Tenacity, Courage, Composure, and all the other things you need developed to the level that the business requires of you, in order that you can earn what you need to earn, and manage and run a successful business that will bring you closer to What Matters Most to you.
Understand that ALL change begins with behavioural change, and that development of your Character underpins the most lasting and most life-changing impact of the focus and effort you’ll put into that work.
Of course, you’ll get plenty of help and support within The Female CEO community and in Momentum, The Female CEO membership programme.
If you need more involved and tailored help with that, and especially if you want to get to where you need to be faster, click on the link to come and join us also in Success Engineers.
We’re opening our doors with a very special offer for this intake of The Excellerator, right across June and July.
And if you’ve got questions about anything I’ve covered, just shout! I’m pretty responsive.
To your inevitable success.
Dino Tartaglia is a former Electronics Engineer, now a businessman, mentor, coach and troubleshooter working to help you, if you’re a coach, consultant, creative or service provider, to Build a Joyful, Dependable Business around Being Brilliant at What You Do.
In his own coaching, and together with world-class coach Simon Hartley, the other half of Success Engineers (their joint business), he helps you to improve your thinking to ask better questions, so that you solve the right problems in your business at the right time, develop your own personal performance as a business owner and get closer to What Matters Most.
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