I first began rowing seasonally, only during the fair weather months. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to row in the winter.

After a couple of years, watching other people row all year long, I made the decision to become a recreational rower. Now I had the opportunity to row any time I wanted. Surprisingly it wasn’t “that cold” during the winter months. In fact, the winters were easier to endure because of my new interest.

All this time I was aware of the racing team, but was unable to imagine myself in that group. There were so many reasons why I didn’t belong including, having to wake up early, the time and expense of going to races; plus, I didn’t think I was competitive. (Boy, did I get THAT one wrong.)

Several seasons of recreational rowing, all along watching the women’s racing team, my interest grew. Certain aspects were very appealing to me, the cohesiveness of a team, the advanced workouts and dedication.

On more than one occasion, my coach invited me to be on the racing team. Each time I declined the offer because I didn’t want to meet the demands of the team. I just couldn’t visualize myself racing.

By chance, I had an opportunity to row in a club race for the first time. It was unplanned. One of the boats needed a rower and I said “yes.” Because it happened so fast, I didn’t even have the chance to be nervous in anticipation. I had no idea what I just committed myself to.

That event opened the doors to seeing myself as a racer. Soon after my coach talked to me again. This time I was ready.

The time had come for me to make a move over to the racing team. What a journey that has been. I have learned so much about myself, working as a team, understanding the value of coaching and strengthening my winner’s mindset.

Sometimes you just don’t know when the next opportunity will appear. Regardless, you want to be ready to say “yes” when it arrives. There are important lessons I have learned along the way which have impacted all parts of my life, particularly my business.

1. Your thoughts affect your actions. Your perception will either limit you or push you forward. If you are unable to see yourself doing something, you will find reasons to justify your choice to remain in your comfort zone. As a result you will be holding yourself back.

2. Visualize how you want to be. If you are interested in getting to the next level of success in your business, visualize it. Create the story of your success. Think it, see it, be it.

3. By putting yourself around people who are thinking bigger than you are, you will begin to think bigger as well. Surround yourself with people ready to up-level their business, or have already reached a certain level of success, to show you how they live life as winners.

4. Find supportive people to help you along the way. You might be able to become a success on your own. With a mentor and a strong support, you will reach your next level of success even faster than you had anticipated.

5. Learn the shortcuts from others. Don’t try to figure it all out yourself. There are people out there who are excellent resources. They will show you the shortcuts to speed up your business growth.

6. What was once difficult is now easy. While you are taking the steps to grow your business, reflect on how things were one year ago. Give yourself credit for the changes you have made. Obstacles last year are now familiar. Up-level your mindset, your business will grow.

7. Give yourself credit for taking action. Celebrate your successes.

As I reflect on my business growth, the significant changes I have made in a short period of time continue to amaze me. Your mindset affects your success. I knew I had to face what was uncomfortable. I still do. Now I know I don’t have to do it alone. In fact if I don’t understand something, I have a colleagues and a mentor whom I can look to for the answers. Someone will be able to explain the concept in a way which makes sense to me.

There are always questions and unknown steps as you grow your business. Find the support you need to progress. Too often the questions about how to do something will hold you back. With a winning mindset, support and desire, the next step will appear. Take it with confidence. Each step will be taking you to the next level of success.

Activity: If you have been avoiding networking, do you know why? Each reason has a story attached to it. You might not be able to change the event, but you are able to change the emotions you have attached to those circumstances. Change is possible.

Look at who you are spending the most time with. Do those people truly support you and your vision? Are they truly a partner for success or could they be holding you back?

Do what is necessary and find people who inspire, motivate and support you. There are many networking groups available in your community and virtual. Begin to affiliate with others who also share similar goals.

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From Loren Fogelman, the success expert, founder of Mindset for Marketing Success.