Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that personal development is paramount to success, but there's one component that often gets overlooked in translation. No personal development regiment is complete without the ongoing development of a positive mindset

Is "mindset" just a buzz word?

The word, mindset, is being used more often, not because it's a fad or phase, but because people are becoming increasingly aware of its importance. New studies in neuroscience continue to produce consistent evidence of the power of a positive mindset. 

What exactly is mindset?

You possess a collection of thoughts and beliefs that are based on your unique life experiences. Some of them benefit you and support the likelihood of success, many probably don't. These beliefs shape your thought habits and therefore, your actions. They affect your energy levels and the way you feel in general. Your unique set of beliefs dictate how you view others, the world, and your future. Mindset is a big deal for everyone, but for entrepreneurs mindset is everything. 

I find that until an entrepreneur develops a positive, healthy, supportive mindset, he or she will not achieve their ultimate goals in life and business. A negative mindset simply never leads to success and happiness.

Successful entrepreneurs invest in their mindset.

The founder of the multi-billion-dollar company, Spanx, credits her success to the power of mindset development

"I can honestly say, my success is in direct proportion to the amount of time I invested on my mindset. They don't teach this in school, it has to come from making time for it and prioritizing it in your life." -- Sara Blakely

Blakely is not alone, successful entrepreneurs, in general, invest in themselves and habitually observe their thought patterns and related actions. 

Build a foundation for a healthy, supportive mindset.

I've identified these 4 pillars to not only maintain a healthy mindset of my own but to help others enjoy the benefits and rewards of this area of their personal growth. 

1. Resolve past hurts.

Carrying the burden of anger, resentment, pain, and/or a victim mentality weighs us down emotionally and physically. It depletes our energy and supports negative beliefs about others and the world in general. If you find yourself thinking and talking about life events that had a negative impact on you, you are perpetuating the painful effects of the incident. This uses up more energy than you may believe--energy that could be applied to your business and happiness. 

It's often difficult to just let go of negative memories and the beliefs connected to them, let alone forgive those involved. If you are holding on to something from the past, work with a coach or therapist to resolve it. 

2. Think positive thoughts.

Psychologist Rick Hansen, Ph.D., says that "negative events and experiences get quickly stored in memory, in contrast to positive events and experiences, which usually need to be held in awareness for a dozen or more seconds to transfer from short-term memory buffers to long-term storage." We have a cognitive bias toward failure and negativity, so it's natural to hold on to negative thoughts. We must put effort into positive thinking. 

Positivity is a precursor to success, whereas negative thoughts narrow your mind and push you to hyper-focus on negativity. Positivity broadens your sense of possibility and opens your eyes and mind to the opportunities, ideas, and options that will support your success. This study, published by positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, is only one of many that support these findings.

3. Believe in yourself.

Athletes frequently break records once believed to represent the limits of the human body. To achieve this, they must believe in themselves one hundred percent. Can an inventor build something that he or she does not believe in? No, they must believe in their project, as well as their ability to bring it to fruition. You are the inventor of your dreams; negativity, fear, and doubt are the saboteurs.  

The practice of visualization is one of the most powerful means to raise your confidence and embed a stronger, more supportive belief system around success. If you spend only 20-seconds to a few minutes a day visualizing and, most importantly, feeling your success it will make a remarkable difference in your life. 

4. Be grateful.

Since it takes more effort to store positive experiences in our long-term memory, it's common for entrepreneurs to focus on what they have not done, rather than their achievements. Flip that around by keeping a list of positive achievements, large and small. Also, add in at least three things a day worthy of your gratitude. Avoid the "ya but" that you may tend to add after thinking or talking about a positive step you've made: 

"Today I crossed three things off my list." (Feeling grateful.)

"Ya, but four more things got piled on." (Feeling defeated.)

Celebrate even the smallest wins and you'll experience many more wins. The benefits related to intentional gratitude are many. Here's a great resource, written by psychotherapist and Psychology Today author, Amy Morin.   

Developing a positive mindset takes an investment of time, persistence, and dedication. However, the time and effort spent on it offer the best ROI you'll ever experience.

Published on: Sep 11, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.