Mental toughness is an important characteristic in our heroes. The reality is, you and I must also be strong-minded if we are to overcome the obstacles we meet every day.
Jim Rockford was a hero who pushed the limits. He was mentally tough in order to do what he did, day after day. His exploits had a huge following in The Rockford Files, an American TV drama that followed the misadventures of an ex-con private investigator played by the late actor James Garner.
Heroes and tough guys on TV and in movies let us feel what it is like to have the mental toughness to break out of a seemingly boring existence, and enter into a much bigger world—one that is full of possibility.
Four Important Characteristics
What secret characteristics do heroes possess? They embody these elements:
Ok—so maybe the characteristics of a hero are not-so-secret after all. But how can you and I harness their power? How can we create the strong mind that is the trademark of those who live large in a world full of possibilities?
When I took the physical fitness (FIT) test at the FBI Academy, I was the bottom 1% that made the top 99% feel better about themselves. I failed miserably, so my challenge became twofold: maintaining confidence in myself, while training to pass the rigid FIT test. I worked with a coach at the Academy, who taught me the secret to building confidence.
“When you improve a little each day, eventually bigger things will come. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t worry about short, quick improvements. Seek out the small improvements, one day at a time. And when it happens—it lasts.”
The result? I passed the FIT test and worked as an FBI agent for twenty-four years.
Confidence is a belief in yourself and your ability to meet your goals.
Every day at the FBI Academy involved some kind of physical activity. As a trainee, I put in extra training for the FIT test. On top of that, as a class, we boxed each other, engaged in arrest scenarios, and ran around the basketball court holding 5 lb medicine balls. I was tired, depressed, and under pressure. Yet I knew that if I gave up, I would regret it the rest of my life. So I straightened my back and dug deeper. A strong mind is not built on something slapped together on a shallow foundation. It needs solid rock.
Like a skyscraper, the higher you want to go, the deeper you must go.
Persistence is the tendency is to see life’s obstacles as challenges to be met, rather than as threats.
In the deepest part of me I knew that I would make the FBI my career. It was not a stepping-stone to something better that might come along. I was a disciple of my owndeep values and beliefs. I had the will to subjugate my feelings to those values. In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey writes,
“If you are an effective manager of your self, your discipline comes from within.”
Strong-minded people have a dedication that comes from a purpose in alignment with their deepest values.
Push-ups were the most difficult aspect of the physical fitness test for me. After several of them failed to be counted, I began to “psyche myself out,” worrying whether I could do at all!
A strong mind shuts out feelings of fear and inadequacy, focused on reaching the goal.
Control is having a certainty that you are able to shape your destiny and not passively accepting events as fate.
How do you approach difficult situations? What has been most helpful to you in developing a strong mind? I would love to hear your thoughts!
This article was first published on Linked2Leadership.
© 2010 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.
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