By Shay Berman, CEO and founder of Digital Resource

As a kid, I believed you had to do things that far surpassed the ordinary if you wanted to be extraordinary. I saw others succeed due to long-term vision, an incredible work ethic and a willingness to take risks. I figured I would hit my entrepreneurial milestones in record time as long as I went the extra mile.

It's true that being a successful entrepreneur involves drive, discipline and a willingness to go above and beyond. What I didn't understand is that those traits are wasted if you don't also maintain a healthy mindset. You can push yourself to the brink of exhaustion and strive for greatness, but you'll burn out if your brain isn’t balanced.

Don’t take my word for it: Researchers such as Dr. Barbara Fredrickson at the University of Michigan have been studying how humans can use positive emotions to increase productivity and creativity. Entrepreneurs and other leaders face no shortage of challenges, so developing the tools and skills to maintain a positive attitude can give you unmatched staying power.

Learning the Hard Way

I ran smack-dab into a mountainous hurdle when my fledgling company grew fast -- it felt bigger than I could handle. I began to believe my employees were ruthless opponents who wanted to take me down and that clients lived to cause frustration. I interpreted every action as an attack, and it began to eat away at my health and happiness.

Fortunately, I had the support of a longtime mentor who counseled me to reframe events as opportunities instead of threats. He said I was making wild assumptions based on my experiences while simultaneously ignoring the experiences of others. To help myself along, I started to practice mindset shifts. I learned to talk myself out of the flight-or-fight stage and embrace the notion of opportunity over fear.

When our next client wanted to quit, I didn’t get mad. Instead, I asked what we could do to improve. The client ended up sticking around because I was compassionate and genuine. This experience showed to me that a combative, fearful mindset would only hurt my chances of success.

How to Develop the Right Mindset

If you’re ready to make a similar change toward a healthier mindset, take the following steps.

1. Enact the 'rule of 3.'

When I approach leadership -- and life -- with the following three principles, I tend to have a healthier, more productive mindset. First, always express gratitude. Authentically offer others your thanks and appreciation.

Second, seek to understand instead of judge. This can be a game-changer for managers and direct supports. Your employees will pick up on the idea that you want to understand them and not challenge or dismiss them. As a result, you'll build more trusting relationships.

Finally, remember that there is no right or wrong. Those concepts don't exist in a world of gratitude and empathy. Instead of harping on mistakes or assigning blame, focus on solutions.

2. See your role as an opportunist.

Do you feel like a victim? That mentality will keep you down for the long haul. When negative things happen, take a step back to get a 10,000-foot view. Treat setbacks as chances to get better.

Where are the opportunities in the bigger picture? Perhaps you didn’t say “no” when you should have. Rectify your choices in the future to avoid encountering the same problem twice. Feel like pointing fingers elsewhere? Learn to accept some responsibility and move on.

3. Stop picking fights.

Remember that everything boils down to perception. A cynical, combative environment will sink your ship faster than any market force -- but your leadership will make a difference.

Become aware of your moods and triggers. When you begin to sense pain or discomfort, reaffirm your desire to be more optimistic. Over time, this process will become more natural and self-fulfilling.

4. Conduct daily and weekend wellness check-ins.

It might sound a little new age, but evaluating your happiness on a routine basis lets you observe whether your thoughts and feelings are lining up in positive ways. Spend time getting to know the real you, and you’ll be better able to kick your professional motor into high gear.

When you feel grateful, you push out emotions like frustration, fear and hate. It’s so much simpler to let go of negatives when positives are abundant. As a report from the Association for Psychological Science notes, people who were more aware of their mind-body connections were more apt to win a friendly competition.

When you begin your entrepreneurial journey, you’ll hear a lot of advice about hustling and failing fast. That's well and good, but just make sure you don’t lose your ability to smile while navigating the rat race. Otherwise, you won’t be able to enjoy that hunk of cheddar at the end of the tunnel.

Shay Berman is the CEO and founder of Digital Resource, a full-service digital marketing agency located in South Florida.

Published on: Sep 19, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.