Follow Us:
Creating a Success Mindset

Success Begins with Soil Leading well involves leading yourself first.

This seems an exercise in obviousness, though the simplest concepts can often be the most powerful. Leading yourself first means that you’ve got to start with you, on the inside, and that takes some courage and honesty.

As I have worked one-on-one with many leaders in multiple industries, I have identified what I believe are six keys to developing a success mindset:

Key 1: Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem

If you’re a leader, don’t you, by default already have healthy self-confidence and self-esteem? Not necessarily. And don’t confuse ego or arrogance with confidence.

  • Confidence suggests that you know what you know, and you also know you always have something to learn.
  • Arrogance suggests you think you know it all.

Self-esteem is related to your belief system, especially your beliefs about yourself and how your own self-talk can help or hurt you.

Key 2: Getting Over Yourself

Getting over yourself is about having the self-confidence not to be so self-absorbed. Getting over yourself is about eliminating self-sabotaging behaviors like procrastination, as well. On the other hand, it’s also about helping others, which can create the positive energy we need to lead. It’s about, ultimately, about having a sense of humor.

You’re going to make mistakes—learn from them and move on!

Key 3: Committing to Congruence: Take the High Road

It is my behaviors that influence, not my intentions.”

Right now you need to make your own commitment to epitomize integrity in all of your actions and interactions as a leader.

You need to make a decision to take the high road, always. Integrity suggests the notion of integration and congruence. Who you are on the inside—intentions—fully integrate with what happens on the outside—actions.

Key 4: Removing Obstacles with Discipline and Perseverance

Ask yourself this question: “What are the current issues, obstacles, problems preventing me from ______?” You fill in the blank with where you want to go, then try to identify both real and imagined obstacles.

Sometimes we perceive that something is an obstacle when in reality, it’s not as bad as we think. Sometimes, we need a coach or advisor to help us work through obstacles, but not investigating them will keep us stuck.

Key 5: Balancing Accountability and Respect

Here’s the trick, the most effective delivery of an honest message balances both accountability and respect, especially if the target of our honesty is someone whom we’d like to influence. It does matter how the message is delivered.

There is a difference between respectful honesty and disrespectful honesty.

Key 6: The Differentiation Factor

In my work with hundreds of leaders, two particular elements differentiate the successful leaders from those who struggle in their ability to influence their followers. You may think, “Well, everyone knows that!” but knowing and doing are different.

Differentiator 1: clearly articulate your vision and get others to follow you.

I find two main errors in thinking when it comes to the vision/mission issue: either there is none articulated, or it’s so vague no one believes it’s important. Your employees believe that you have a vision and they think it’s your job to tell them about it.

Remember that the degree to which you are not specific, someone has to guess or to try to read your mind.

Differentiator 2: confronting issues quickly, directly and respectfully.

Leaders need to respond thoughtfully and immediately to issues that arise. Candor and honesty are the critical currency of good leadership—the art is in the delivery.

It’s helpful if you are willing to redefine confrontation as someone’s ability to respectfully resolve an issue—it does not have to be confrontational. Effective confrontation is direct, specific, and respectful.

Recognizing and responding to these six keys is the first step toward creating a success mindset—and successfully leading yourself so that you can better lead others.

Image: John Drake via Flickr, Creative Commons

Libby Wagner, Libby Wagner & Associates, is one of only a handful of published poets regularly welcomed into the boardroom. Author of the new book The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business (Global Professional Publishing), she has been labeled The Influencing Coach™ by her clients. Her expertise in leadership, strategy, management, and executive team development helps organizations create environments where clarity and increased trust lead to unrivaled results, shaping such Fortune 500 cultures as Boeing, Nike, Philips and Costco.


    1. I quite like your fourth key… removing obstacles with discipline and perseverance. Great insight.

      1
    2. These are all such crucial ideas and behaviors to live by on the road to success (and once you get there!). Thank you for reminding us.

      2
    3. Great list of keys to develop a success mindset #WGBIZ ! Self-evaluation and knowledge do make the difference. A few of these I am working on right now! Totally relate and appreciate your breakdown which gives us all a plan to work with and make that one less task to focus on in a day.

      3
    4. <!– p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica} –>
      <p>Yes, you’re right—self-evaluation and self assessment are not only essential for business success, but also for personal success! The funny thing about “discipline” is that often we get images of some horrible coach standing over us and yelling, “give me twenty push-ups!” or the crazed rise of boot camp-types of events to whip us into shape . . . in actuality, it’s the day-to-day practice, the reaffirming commitment every day to lead ourselves, to behave with integrity, to be our best–now. That’s the discipline that drives success.&nbsp;</p>

      4
    5. <!– p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica} –>
      <p>Yes, you’re right—self-evaluation and self assessment are not only essential for business success, but also for personal success! The funny thing about “discipline” is that often we get images of some horrible coach standing over us and yelling, “give me twenty push-ups!” or the crazed rise of boot camp-types of events to whip us into shape . . . in actuality, it’s the day-to-day practice, the reaffirming commitment every day to lead ourselves, to behave with integrity, to be our best–now. That’s the discipline that drives success.</p>

      5
    6. <!– p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica} –>
      <p>Yes, you’re right—self-evaluation and self assessment are not only essential for business success, but also for personal success! The funny thing about “discipline” is that often we get images of some horrible coach standing over us and yelling, “give me twenty push-ups!” or the crazed rise of boot camp-types of events to whip us into shape . . . in actuality, it’s the day-to-day practice, the reaffirming commitment every day to lead ourselves, to behave with integrity, to be our best–now. That’s the discipline that drives success.</p>

      6
    7. Yes, you’re right— self-evaluation and self assessment are not only essential for business success, but also for personal success! The funny thing about “discipline” is that often we get images of some horrible coach standing over us and yelling, “give me twenty push-ups!” or the crazed rise of boot camp-types of events to whip us into shape… in actuality, it’s the day-to-day practice, the reaffirming commitment every day to lead ourselves, to behave with integrity, to be our best—now. That’s the discipline that drives success.

      7
    Join the Small Business Forum Community
    The Small Business Forum is a place where small business owners can learn, ask questions, and share advice on how to succeed online