No matter what goal we’re trying to achieve in life, resiliency is key. I’ve often said that I’m not special, talented, or influential… the reason I’ve been able to do what I’ve done is because I understand the importance of GRIT.
After all, persistence beats talent every time. (Paraphrasing a favorite quote by Calvin Coolidge.) But in other to BE persistent, one has to have another quality: mental toughness.
Here are some things I’ve learned about how to develop mental toughness.
Realize the Problem. Assuming the reader is living in a developed country, then we’re living in the most prosperous, comfortable time in all human history. Our grandparents struggled to a degree none of us will ever know. (Does your grandma save margarine containers? There’s a reason for that!) I fear all this comfort has made us soft.
Barely 100 years ago, people were willing to risk jail time to fight for a – wait for it – 10 hour workday for CHILDREN.
At the risk of sounding like a Luddite, modern technology, science, and medical advancements have most of made our lives EASY to the point of excess. Proof?
Most of us now die from too many calories, not too few, and from too little movement.
These are things our ancestors would not have struggled with.
Find a community of tough people and join it. Remember Jesus’ words to his well-meaning disciple who encouraged him to go easy on himself? Get behind me, Satan.
He knew what was ahead of him, and being soft wasn’t going to help him endure the trials. Instead, his Father sent him an angel to hang out with for a while to strengthen him.
We’re no different! We need to find a community of people, even if it’s just 2-4 of them, that will help us work harder, reach higher, and do better. And once we find that community, ask for and accept tough feedback! Be accountable to someone. As they say, if you’re the smartest person in the room – you’re in the wrong room.
Develop daily disciplines. It could be anything, really. Bible reading. Exercise. Tracking expenses. The point is to commit to doing something, daily, and DO it, whether you “feel like it” or not.
Doing something daily and not breaking the chain helps to strengthen the consistency muscle and leads to mental toughness.
Study strong people. Read biographies of mentally tough people you admire, or watch documentaries or historical fiction. See how TOUGH people had to be in previous generations just to survive. It’s enlightening. And it leads to gratitude for the smallest things.
Personally, I love getting beat up a little when I watch shows like The Mill or read books like Little House on the Prairie to my children. Movies such as Bethany Hamilton’s Soul Surfer also inspire me. I make it a point to fill my mind with mentally tough characters to emulate.
Man, born of woman, Is short-lived and filled with trouble.
Can everyone agree that modern people are way too far up in their feelings? People will let the comment of a random internet stranger ruin their day. Why do we do this to ourselves? It’s a choice to become offended.
“The taking of offense is what rests in the bosom of the stupid ones.”
DECIDING to become unoffendable is remarkably freeing. 99% of what people do is about them, not me. It’s about their experience, memories, upbringing, culture, insecurities and the other things that color their perception.
One of the awesome things about growing out of adolescence? Learning that it just ain’t about me. Previous generations worried about doing right, this generation worries about feeling right. Perhaps we have it backwards.
Take responsibility. Taking brutal responsibility for every aspect of my life was what made me grow up. Even when some of the characters behaved badly, I still attracted them, put up with them, or enabled them with poor boundaries.
If I’m broke it’s because I haven’t created enough value in the marketplace, not because nobody told me how to invest. If I’m flabby it’s because I haven’t lifted heavy things often enough. If I don’t have friends it’s because I haven’t been hospitable enough. Etc. Take ownership.
The beautiful thing about taking responsibility for everything in your life is that you know exactly what to do to change it. It puts the power back onto you. In short, let’s stop making excuses!
Develop a Strong Vision. My business mentor Ray Higdon says, “My vision is a ruthless dictator.” I love this and have adopted it as a personal mantra. What do you want your life to look like in 3, 5, 10 years? Let THAT motivate you.
Speaking of motivation, forget it. It’s like a crack-addicted monkey: fun when it shows up, but highly unreliable! When I feel “unmotivated” to do the do, I remind myself that I don’t have to require motivation to do the thing. I can (shocking!) do it anyway.
A Few of my Favorite Books About Mental Toughness
13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do: Own Your Power, Channel Your Confidence, and Find Your Authentic Voice for a Life of Meaning and Joy
What are your thoughts about mental toughness?