To many entrepreneurs facing productivity challenges, “maintaining an entrepreneurial mindset” is pushed as a cure-all. According to bloggers, gurus, experts, business coaches, consultants… in order to get un-stuck, the answer is always, “You just need to work on your mindset!”

To some degree, this makes sense: Without a flexible attitude and focused relentlessness toward firm business goals, our companies will go the way of bulky 2-pound flip phones.

But what about entrepreneurs who do have our mindset right, and still fall short of our targets?

And why is this so common across every age, ethnicity, gender, industry, and business size?

Is it really due to “not thinking right”?

After two decades spent serving, coaching, and consulting for hundreds of clients across several industries, from large companies to “mom and pop shops” … I say it’s not our fault.

There’s a missing piece.

Because despite having “the right” product, pricing, and positioning, many of us never find the right mix of strategy and moxy to crush our “Big Goals.”

Could it be that mindset work just isn’t enough to speed success in most cases?

An entrepreneurial mindset is tough to sustain when we’re stressed.

In some cases, it’s impossible. Here’s why:

  1. Our “mindset” (thoughts, emotions, behavior) is built from childhood experiences.

Data shows our personal mindset is shaped from many places: past experiences, ingrained teachings, current health state, et al. Even our genetics factor in.

And a lot of how we operate today is based on childhood patterns.

That said, it makes sense that our natural entrepreneurial mindset is a product of our personal mindset. We’re dealing with ingrained beliefs, perspectives, and thought patterns.

So, creating lasting change by trying to “think different” ain’t easy. 😐

Because if those old, ingrained patterns are unhealthy, stifling, or unhelpful … our business suffers.

Because we do business the same way we do everything else.

  1. Under stress, our bodies defaults to habitual patterns and primal instincts.

Under the stress of a perceived threat, our body chooses the best response.

To do this, it draws on both our physical senses and our past experiences.

Of note, this happens mostly without our awareness and it’s pretty instantaneous. When the body perceives a threat, it automatically activates certain processes to help us fight or escape. Those primal behaviors take control, which suppress your thinking brain.

At that point, we’re in “survival mode.” (Literally.)

In survival mode, our brain’s “fear center” reduces our ability to stay cool, to concentrate, to make sound decisions, and to consider the future.

This is why we can forget the words to that presentation at go-time, although we’ve practiced for weeks.

It’s also why, when our team member sends error-filled work for the fifth time, we may yell first and think later.

These behaviors are completely natural, predictable results of the thinking brain being suppressed because our bodies perceive “danger.”

So in these cases, typical “mindset work”—like teaching ourselves to “be more easygoing” about day-to-day business stuff—is not often very helpful.

Remember, all that’s out the window if our fear center shuts it down.

So how can we keep our bodies from automatically judging product launches, sales calls, speeches, taxes, and tricky management situations as “dangerous?”

The missing link to controlling our mindset under pressure? The body.

More specifically, our nervous systems.

To recap, we know our rational thinking brain is physically hijacked under stress.

We know our nervous system decides what “stress” is subconsciously, using bodily senses and past experiences.

We also know all this happens without us ever realizing it.

Popular mindset-based solutions might have us try and hack our “habit cycles” to try to strengthen mindset.


If we want to stop drinking coffee after lunch, drink hot cocoa instead. (It’s still a hot, tasty beverage.) And say a few affirmations to convince ourselves we love hot cocoa, and are already an energetic, positive person.

I’m oversimplifying a little to make a point.

Now, no disrespect to mindset coaches, because these sorts of hacks do work.

We just need a little support for them to work more consistently and completely.

The “support” that we need is a nervous system regulated enough to access all that great mindset stuff when we’re under pressure.

And we need to be able to do it across the long-term.

You already know sustaining the “right mindset” is so much easier when entrepreneurial life is calmer.

But to sustain change even when the “bad news” hits the fan? We must learn how to disrupt our body’s habit of overriding our mindset changes.

Over-focusing on “mindset” keeps us in “feast or famine” mode.

Looking at “mindset work” as a magical cure is pretty dangerous.

It fuels the shame-based implication that if we were only “disciplined” enough to “think better” … then all our business challenges would be solved.

But that’s not fair.

Because “thinking differently” isn’t enough.

Because what happens when we try that, and still fall short of our own standards?

More self-doubt, more self-blame, and less self-confidence. Basically, more performance anxiety.

And that, ironically, means we’re even less likely to reach the goals that we want. Beating ourselves up just keeps us on the hamster wheel, sparking even more self-doubt, perfectionism, fear of failure, and imposter syndrome.

The Bottom Line: Master your mindset through your body.

While mindset shifting works for thousands of entrepreneurs, millions more of us still seek answers. It’s being proven time and again that mindset training, by itself, just isn’t enough.

This rings even more true for business owners from marginalized populations.

Personally, I’m blown by this rabid “mindset” trend. I’d rather follow modern science further to explore the inexorable link between the body and the mind.

We no longer have to depend strictly on thought-based hacks to change our behavior.

Truth be told, our nervous system sends more data FROM our bodies TO our brains than the other way around. So doesn’t it make sense to work through the body to improve work performance in a lasting way?