Sally is an ambitious entrepreneur who believes mental toughness is bulldozing her way through obstacles and adversity. If a barrier prevents her from moving forward, she thinks that by continuing a full frontal assault, she will eventually break it down. As a result, her team is alienated and she feels disillusioned with her career.
Sally’s approach may work in football, but not in life and business. Not every obstacle that comes up in life can be broken down by pounding fists at it.
Mental toughness is misunderstood by many entrepreneurs, executives, and leaders. Too often, it is associated with a hard-headed mindset that refuses to yield when circumstances change.
Mental toughness is not something we’re born with—it’s something we can learn, and not only during tough times. We can choose to develop skills that will increase our ability to prepare for life’s unavoidable struggles.
Here are 5 powerful ways to increase your mental toughness:
Learn to Adapt to New Circumstances, So Lose the Ego
As entrepreneurs and leaders, it takes more than good intentions to keep your company running strong. Sally’s problem was that she did not take the time to ask herself, “What has changed?” Instead of being willing to adapt to her changing situation, she plowed on as though everything was business as usual.
Gather your team together at least twice a year and ask questions, such as “What’s new in the industry and are we on the cutting edge of that change?” “Do we need to update our strategy?”
Be Willing To Change Tact and Try Something New
Mental toughness is acknowledging that changes in the industry means changing strategies in order to keep moving forward. This can be very difficult for people who are goal-oriented, because for them abandoning a goal is akin to acknowledging failure. Unfortunately, they become married to the goal rather than the endgame.
In truth, changing tact can be just plain smart.
If life were predictable, you might be able to chart your life out with five-year goals. But life is full of unexpected surprises, and being unwilling to yield and reroute to reach your destination threatens to expose a hard head, not a tough mind.
Be smart enough to know the difference.
Experience Your Emotions — Yes, All of Them
Mental toughness is not about suppressing negative thoughts so you can be happy and optimistic all the time, even when adversity strikes. Conversely, it’s about being honest in acknowledging your entire range of emotions and giving each equal attention.
Once you fail to respect the negative emotions you’re feeling, you are being neither honest with yourself or behaving with authenticity.
The key is to chose, with intention, to give more heft to the positive aspects of your situation. This will take mental toughness, but like developing muscles, it is easier the more you do it.
It’s natural to automatically see the negative in a tough situation; our limbic brain system is warning us of danger. But not all adversity is life-threatening—so learn how to find positive options in your situation.
Sometimes the positive is simply the lesson learned, so we don’t make the same mistake next time!
Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself and Blaming Others; We’re Sick of Listening to You
Blaming others is an emotionally retarded way of dealing with obstacles and adversity. Blaming others is a lame way to explain yourself when the chips are down and times are tough. Everyone is confronted with obstacles and adversity—some are simply more visible from the outside than others.
If you think that those who face less adversity in life are happier, think again. In fact, research has shown that people who face adversity, and overcome it, are among the most fulfilled.
No one is owed a free ride. If you want something, go out and get it (click to tweet).
Learn How to Be Grateful — It’s Not All About You. Really.
Expressing gratitude is not a naive form of positive thinking. Instead, it is a way of thinking about the way we receive benefits and giving credit to others. To do so, often means humbling ourselves and getting ego out of the way.
People are actually more successful at reaching their goals when they express gratitude throughout their day. One study found people who were more grateful were 20% more likely to make progress than those who were not.
Developing mental toughness is a work in progress. While there is always room for improvement, we can prepare ourselves to be mentally tough so we can deal with life’s adversities when the unexpected happens.
What tips would you add to increase mental toughness? How is the best way to develop mental toughness?
© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.
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