• Nicolas Cole Featured Contributor.

When people talk about cultivating a “winning” mindset, that doesn’t mean winning in the literal sense. It can, but the definition goes much deeper than that.

Having a “winning” mindset has far more to do with the battle that happens within yourself—not someone else. Obstacles aren’t external, they are internal. That’s where the real challenge occurs, in being able to work with yourself in a positive way to overcome whatever is going on outside of you. In the same way a challenge out in the world can be very easy for someone with the right mindset, the most simple challenge can become very difficult for someone who gets in their own way.

So, how do you create a “winning” mindset? How do you “win” the battle within yourself, so that you stay focused on what needs to get done—and actually achieve it?

1. It Always Comes down to Trust

You have to trust yourself, point blank. The most fundamental part of entrepreneurship is learning to be okay with ambiguity. This means walking into situations you know you won’t have an immediate answer to—but trusting that you will be able to figure it out.

That’s what trusting yourself really means. You have to know, deep down, that no matter what is thrown at you, there is always a solution. You might not see it now, and you might not figure it out for a little while, but you know you will eventually come to a conclusion.

That’s the difference.

2. Positive Daily Habits Are the Foundation

Second, you have to realize that cultivating a “winning” mindset is no different than going to the gym and working a certain muscle group. Discipline is a muscle. Work ethic is a muscle. And unless you are putting in the time to strengthen those muscles on a daily basis, they are never going to grow.

In order to cultivate a “winning” mindset, you constantly need to be auditing yourself, asking where you can improve and how. The how is the most important part. It’s not just about knowing what you need to change—maybe you need to work on accountability, or listening, or following through. The real shift happens in deliberately choosing activities that challenge the very thing you want to work on—and then you overcoming them.

A “winning” mindset isn’t just a decision. It’s a daily practice.

3. The Right Teachers Make or Break You

People are so quick to say, “I have found a mentor,” as if finding someone to mentor you is an accomplishment in itself. The truth is, it’s not. Putting your trust in the wrong mentor is just as bad as dating the wrong person. It can end up leaving you in far worse shape than when you began.

People vastly underestimate how vital a teacher can be to the whole process. Learning from someone further along than you, or more experienced than you is a gift. But it’s also on you to deliberately choose that relationship. Lots of people are willing to share what they think, and tell you what you “should” be doing. Your challenge is to sift through all those opinions and find the ones that most resonate with you.

Because truthfully, when you are properly mentored, you aren’t taught in the conventional way. Your mentor doesn’t sit you down and explain to you how to cultivate the right mindset. You may talk about it with one another, but the real learning happens by you being around them. By you soaking it up through experience.

Choose your mentors wisely—otherwise it will be a “loser” mentality you end up inheriting.

4. Value Your Time, and Who You Spend It With

And finally, you need to understand the role your peers play in your life.

Even the people you hang out with on a casual, social basis end up impacting you as a human being. Anyone and everyone you give your time to is an influence, and so it becomes your duty to protect your time closely.

The way you spend your time is the first big challenge. Cultivating a “winning” mindset is about being deliberate with your choices, and knowing when to say yes to the requests of others and when to say no, because you need to focus on your own goals and ambitions.

The second challenge is, when you do spend time with others, who you spend it with. Do not treat this lightly. These people end up becoming your mirrors. They either encourage you or discourage you. They are either a positive influence or a negative influence. Do not settle for what is convenient or easy. Choose your peers deliberately, and the investment will unfold in yourself.

After all, when you hang around other people who are also cultivating “winning” mindsets for themselves, this will only encourage the process within you.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Nicolas Cole is a writer and essayist, and Top Writer on Quora with over 10,000,000 views. His work has been published in Time, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., The Huffington Post, Business Insider, and more. He is a columnist for Inc Magazine and is best known for writing true stories about self-development. You can follow him on Twitter @Nicolascole77