According to Douglas Comstock, mental toughness expert, “Mental toughness is the mindset to boldly advance toward a goal regardless of pain, fear, or circumstance. It is a decision on how you will manage your mindset, regardless of how much pain you may be experiencing, how fear-filled your situation may appear, and the adverse circumstances you may face along your journey.”
According to Mike Gillette, Mindset Expert: “You almost always find a way to achieve any realistic, yet challenging goal once you become passionate enough about it. On the other hand, even the most modest of goals can become impossible to achieve if you do not engage with those goals on an emotional level. Once you take passion out of the equation, things become a struggle.”
Mike Gillette advocates that your passion will determine how hard you work at things even when things don’t seem to be going your way. You can work hard at things you are passionate about. But when you are truly passionate about something, you will go above the call of duty. Passion is what breeds enthusiasm and creativity. Without it, you won’t be able to fully tap into your true potential.
Meredith Elliot Powell in her excellent business book “Thrive” borrows a term from the military called “Embrace the Suck” also known as The Stockdale Paradox. This is “keeping the faith that you will eventually prevail in the end while confronting the most brutal facts in your current reality is essential.”
Not surprisingly, she suggests that false optimism, denial, and emotional defeat are not the most useful or only ways of dealing with uncertainty and chaos in our lives and businesses. Instead, we should ask ourselves: “what can we do right now to accept the reality of the situation, take control of the next steps, and prepare for whatever outcome emerges?
Often businesses do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities) analysis before planning a new direction. This is a helpful tool that we can also use for our personal career journey.
Developing Mental Toughness
Mental toughness is something that we all possess in varying degrees: it’s like a muscle that develops when exercised. So how does one become more mentally tough?
Take control over your mental habits
For you to start developing mental toughness, let go of any attitudes, attributes, or expectations that may be holding you back so that you can move forward with your strengths. Our words have power and you need to turn those negative thoughts that are keeping you stuck and transform them into positive beliefs instead. This is what will allow you to begin crafting and forging a mental toughness way of thinking and way of life.
An old but valued confidence remedy taught to new sales representatives is this: SHOUT at yourself in the mirror at the top of your voice every morning – several times if possible. You are likely to laugh with embarrassment in the beginning, but over time you will believe it.
“My name is _________. I am not just good, I am great. I am not just great, I am brilliant. I am not just brilliant, I am phenomenal. Give me a problem I’ll solve it. Give me a situation, I’ll overcome it. Give me a job, I will do it. Give me a sale I will get it. I can do ANYTHING!!!.”
Understand how you relate emotionally to your current goals
Are you passionate about your career? How can you redefine your goals so you feel energized and excited about them? Famed life coach Tony Robbins says: “If you are not getting what you want, aim higher”. What is a bigger, better, outcome or vision that would engage you emotionally and make your journey less of a struggle and more of an adventure?
Mentally tough people have their own definition of success and do not have a problem sharing their core beliefs with anyone. All the famous businesses who have lasted for more than one hundred years had this one thing in common: they knew what their core values were and they incorporated them in all their decisions, goals and communications. They knew what they stood for.
When you define and understand what success (or your own north star) means to you, then it will be that much easier to go out and do whatever it takes to attain it.
The good news is that mental toughness is something that can become your defining characteristic, regardless of age or talent. You can develop the mental toughness that you need to keep going no matter what. You may not even be fully aware of how mentally tough you are until you are thrown into a situation that calls for it.