It’s great to talk about mental toughness, strength, perseverance and all, but what do these things actually look like in the real world?
In one word, I can say mental toughness equals consistency.
Mental toughness is an abstract quality, but in the real world, it is attached to deliberate and consistent actions. People don’t magically think their way to become mentally tough. Don’t let movies deceive you – you have to do some real work in real life.
This brings us to the actual definition of what mental toughness is.
DEFINING MENTAL TOUGHNESS
Mental toughness is having a psychological edge that gives you the ability to perform at a high or if more, your best maximum effort and efficiency during times of demand, pressure, competition and adverse conditions.
The determinant of your mental toughness comes during these times, you can call them – trying times.
Some of the characteristics you can see in someone who is mentally tough includes; self-confidence, self-motivation, concentration, focus, self-control, leadership qualities, persistence, determination and calmness.
DEVELOPING MENTAL TOUGHNESS
To become mentally tough, you need to understand and practice the key attributes that lead to mental toughness. There is no formula to follow, I’m sorry.
Mental toughness takes a lot of time and patience. Mental toughness is like a muscle. It needs to be worked on consistently to grow and develop. When you don’t take conscious steps to grow your mental toughness, you will definitely crumble psychologically when tough times come.
Being under the right leadership is also important to help you become mentally tough. Parent’s educators, coaches, mentors, bosses at work – they all play a systematic role in building your mental toughness.
HOW OTHERS DEVELOP MENTAL TOUGHNESS
For most people, it takes failing and bouncing back to become mentally tough. Some notable figures who fall into these category include; Michael Jordan, Edmund Hillary, Bill Gates, Steve Allen, Walt Disney and so on. Most of these people failed at their first, or even couple of endeavours before getting it right.
If they didn’t have the mental strength to persevere and stay consistent with what they were doing, they probably won’t be who they are today.
Also, it takes failure and the ability to bounce back. Many people develop mental toughness through the experience of failure. Good parents do not want their children to fail and I understand that. But today, too many blame others for the failure. Parents are quick to blame the teacher for problems in class or a coach when the child is not excelling in an activity. Mental toughness can not be developed properly when blaming others. In fact, the opposite is the case.
YOUR HABITS, NOT YOUR MOTIVATION
Many people get addicted to getting inspiration or courage from an external force all the time. It should not be an overdose for you. Motivating yourself is just like fueling your potential energy. You really don’t get to do anything about all the excitement, eventually.
Mental toughness is not about giving yourself an incredible daily dose of inspiration, motivation and courage. It’s about building daily habits – habits that help you stick to a process, a schedule, which helps you overcome challenges and distractions.
To be mentally tough, you don’t have to be courageous or talented – just be consistent, with good habits though.
This is something I have written on before and here are some steps to help you build new habits, outline a process and get consistent at every step.
- Know who you are and what your purpose is.
- Focus on smaller things first, don’t try to grow too fast.
- Develop a process that doesn’t depend on motivation of any sort.
- Stick to your process, and don’t try to over-monitor your progress. Just keep doing.
- It’s okay to fall out of line, but bad if you keep drifting far away. Learn to get right back on track as soon as possible!
A lot of times, we think mental toughness is about the ways we respond to extreme situations. How did you perform after you lost a competition? Did you stop practicing? Can you put your life together after losing someone important? Did you change your line of business immediately you failed at the former?
No doubt, extreme situations dare to test our perseverance, courage, and mental strength… but what about everyday circumstances?
Many people develop mental toughness through experiencing failure countless times.
Let us go back to the case of parents who do not want their children to fail or make the same mistakes they did.
Do you think it’s right for such parents to ‘over-guide’ their children and try not to let them go through any form of failure?
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