Mental Toughness

Mental Toughness

Mental Toughness is a very helpful characteristic to possess in a world that is volatile and uncertain. A world where success is hard to achieve and the consequences of failing are serious.

Mental Toughness enables a person to work hard, respond resiliently to adversity and high demands whilst staying focused on their objectives and provides immunisation from negative emotion. It is often considered to be a key part of someone’s personality traits. Something they’re lucky enough to be born with but that is not the case. It is a learnable skill that can be developed.

During our work in developing personal and organisational resilience, we meet many people who have an abundance of mental toughness. They are often easy to spot and they tend to share similar characteristics. They have a habit of achieving their objectives, they don’t give in easily to temptations and they are great at overcoming their fears and being brave (that doesn’t mean they don’t get scared, they just continue to act in spite of the fear). It’s no coincidence that people with good mental toughness tend to be very successful people.

The good news is that mental toughness is something that we can all develop. Here are some tips on what you can do…

  • Learn to stay in control.
    When emotion spikes, emotion wins. Learn to identify when your emotional state is beginning to rise to a point where it will cloud your judgement, distract your focus and trigger unhelpful behaviour. Then have interventions that keep them in check and maintain your level of control.
  • Always have an objective.
    An objective gives you a purpose and a clear focus for your actions and energies. Without a clear objective you run the risk of being distracted or pulled off-line. Also, without a clear objective how do you know you’ve completed the task successfully and can move on to the next?
  • Let go of what you can’t influence.
    If you only had a limited amount of water you wouldn’t waste any of it by watering a dead plant. Well you only have a limited supply of energy so don’t waste it on things (or people) that you can’t control.
  • Learn from the past.
    The past is valuable because it contains lessons of success and failure. Your successes and other peoples too. Analyse them, pick out the key points and find ways to use them. Build on the successes and let go of the failures (see point 3 above!).
  • Never allow yourself to whinge or moan.
    Whinging and moaning about anything never really makes anyone feel better, it just becomes a habit. The trouble is that our words have real power of us (and others) and whinging sets a very negative tone to our mindset. Instead of talking about what’s wrong, talk about what you’re going to do to fix things or how you’re going to respond positively, even if that conversation is with yourself.
  • Focus only on impressing yourself.
    Don’t waste valuable time and energy trying to impress other people. Stay loyal to your values and let your intuition guide you. Do what you know is the right thing to do and the people who really matter to you will be happy, cared for and supportive.
  • Celebrate success and be grateful.
    Successes can be hard won so celebrate them when they happen. But not just your own. It is important to celebrate the success of other people around you. If a colleague or friend achieves something great then do the right thing and congratulate and celebrate. Success tends to breed success, so whenever you can surround yourself with successful people and it may well rub off!

But whatever happens spend a moment at the end of each day to reflect on what good things you have in your life. Be grateful for those things because that is one of the best ways to recharge your batteries and get ready for another day.


Image credit: Arya Zial

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