High-achieving women are used to taking action to solve problems. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a client say something like, “Just tell me what to do. I’m good at following directions. I just need a map.”
They want a quick fix that will suddenly make everything better.
Unfortunately — or fortunately, if you look at the situation with a growth mindset — it’s not that simple. In this situation, it’s not all about the action — or at least, not the kind of action we first think about.
The secret is to use both mindset and action in the right combination for your situation. And here’s the other challenge: It keeps changing. Just when you think you’ve mastered your business, the next version of the business appears.
Entrepreneurial women know the key to moving through business and life hurdles is not their actions, but their thoughts. By managing their mind, they can create an extraordinary business and live an extraordinary life, beyond what they currently think is possible.
This type of mindset and approach is what I call Thinking Big.
Learning to Think Big allows you to see your situation differently so it will not seem so overwhelming.
Whether you’re a one-woman show or a multi-million-dollar business with a team, you must first acknowledge your need to dream, believe, and desire for Bigger as you go through the phases of your business development. Then you need to plan, create, and assess Bigger, and use tools and systems to do it all. After that, you’ll have the right mindset and the emotional courage to last through the ups and downs — knowing that it is a cycle — a spiral in which you’re constantly expanding and growing.
Each time the next best version of your business appears, your knowledge, capabilities, and experience grow. The messy middle is always the same size, but proportionally, it feels smaller and less overwhelming.
Are you ready to start Thinking Big?
Here are five things Big Thinkers do to level up their mindset, overcome their fears and obstacles, and move into the extraordinary.
1. They know when to ask for help
When you’re spinning from one option to another and never making a decision, something has to give. It’s time to ask for help.
Big Thinkers understand when their methods aren’t working and they need an outside perspective to bring clarity to their thoughts, ideas, and decision-making process. They understand the value of having a guide or Sherpa along the journey as they climb mountains to reach their goals.
As a female business owner, whether you’re thinking about hiring a coach, consultant, or counselor, you’ll benefit tremendously from having a co-pilot in your corner who focuses on both life and business.
And I’m not saying this because I’m a coach! According to Harvard Business Review, researchers James Hayton and Gabriella Cacciotti, beginners and seasoned entrepreneurs benefit from a community of peers who are in any stage of business growth and of life.
2. They are able to harness their fear
Staying stuck in safety mode is the result of the motivational triad hard at work in your personal and professional life. The motivational triad is the theory developed by Dr. Douglas J. Lisle and Dr. Alan Goldhamer outlined in their book, The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force that Undermines Health & Happiness, which states that there are three main factors related to motivation:
- Seeking pleasure
- Avoiding pain
- Conserving energy
Our brains are hardwired the way we were during the caveman (or cavewoman) days. However, we no longer need the motivational triad in the 21st century. No one is going to eat us if we step outside of our cave. No one is there waiting to clock us over the head with a club.
Big Thinkers know their fear is coming from their inner cavewoman, and they understand how to use these four tactics to harness their fear and flip the script to achieve a different outcome — one that isn’t limited by fear.
- Consider your thought options: How we feel is the number-one driver of how we react. When you don’t acknowledge how you feel, it will still affect your responses — you just won’t know it.
- Target the real problem: Instead of beating around the bush or focusing on tiny details, the real problem is almost invariably the fact that we don’t want to feel a negative feeling. But is a negative feeling really the worst thing we can experience? No.
- Embrace ambiguity: Uncertainty is a real and constant fear. Uncertainty and ambiguity are inherent in entrepreneurship. They never leave. You’ll always have the unknown… and even unknowns about the unknown! That’s why recognizing you’ll never have all the information is important.
- Seek support: For entrepreneurs who constantly battle the fear of failure, mentors, coaches, and support networks can be vital sources of reassurance.
3. They embrace the messy middle
One of the most surprising things my clients realize once they start Thinking Big is that even though they still have stress, they don’t mind it. In fact, they often enjoy it.
I know. You’re probably wondering if I’ve gone off the deep end. But it’s true. You can actually look forward to stress — when it’s the right kind of stress.
When you start on your journey as an entrepreneur, you may have stress, but it’s Progress Stress — full of curiosity, excitement, commitment, and positive energy. Then you get into the messy middle, where nothing seems quite right, and you can’t figure out what’s wrong. At this point, Stuck Stress takes over, making you confused, afraid, and stuck.
Big Thinkers know that the only way to navigate your way out of the messy middle is to do the right work to untangle the mess. Instead of focusing on the negative feeling of being trapped between two things you want, can’t decide on, or don’t feel you can achieve, Big Thinkers shift their mindset to become curious and excited about something they want to do and allow that enthusiasm to push them to make it happen.
4. They believe in extraordinary commitment
If you have a Big Thinking mindset, you know there’s a difference between being interested in something and being wholeheartedly committed. When you’re interested, it’s easy to become overcommitted and exhausted. Overcommitment leads to misery for you and everyone you’re involved with. You cannot possibly bring your full gifts and talents to the table when you’re overcommitted.
Extraordinary commitment, on the other hand, is the ability to commit to achieving extraordinary results — which means being smart about your commitments in the first place. You must be very choosy about what you dedicate yourself to.
Big Thinkers choose to be extraordinary at a few things by being truly committed versus being good’nuff at everything because they’ve overcommitted. They also don’t make arbitrary decisions.
Instead, Big Thinkers make clear choices that lead them closer toward fulfilling their purpose and their emotional needs, and they choose wisely, making sure they are investing their mental, physical, time, and relationship resources into the most rewarding and fulfilling commitments.
5. They prioritize creating margin
It is only when you understand where you are that you can start to create change. To get a sense of where you’re at, take an honest look at these seven life facets and consider the things that need to happen to bring your satisfaction level to a 10/10:
- Systems and processes
- Health and wellness
Once you’ve identified the things with the biggest stakes that could move the needle the most if you fixed them, you may have the urge to jump in and start knocking those out.
I want you to hold off for now.
If you want to spend more time working in your Zone of Extraordinary Achievement, in which you create more energy — not just for you, but for everyone else you’re working with or for, you’re going to have to give yourself permission to prioritize the tasks, projects, or changes that will create the biggest margin and give you the space in your schedule and your mind to Think Big.
Becoming a Big Thinker is work worth doing
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Being an entrepreneur is a journey in personal development disguised as an entrepreneurial adventure.
When you move further along this journey to continuously become the next best version of yourself, live up to your potential, and decide who you are and what you’re really trying to do, that’s when you start to embody the Big Thinking mindset.
This is the work worth doing. It’s work that happens first in your head and heart. It’s learning who you’re being and becoming and what you’re feeling. It’s often harder than any external action. But it brings you to the next level — the level of inspired action and Extraordinary Achievement.
When you’ve done the work to know yourself and Think Big, you can change your world. That means your world gets better, which is the result you want.
In giving more thought and time to yourself, you’ve empowered yourself to give more to your family, your clients, your colleagues, and your community — and whomever else you choose. Most of all, you’re giving more to the Future You, and that’s an investment you’ll see a return on through the rest of your life.
Take the next steps on your entrepreneurial journey
If you are a successful entrepreneur but have even an inkling that there is another level of success and you are meant for more, my book, She Thinks Big: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Guide to Moving Past the Messy Middle and into the Extraordinary, is for you.
In it, I’m giving you permission to want more, be more, and achieve more, and I’ll give you the tools to bring it into your reality in a way that works for your life.
For MUST-HAVE planning tools that work seamlessly with the book to help you stop overthinking and make confident, quick decisions to get what you want — every single time, download my Think Big Toolkit. (I couldn’t fit everything in the book!)