How do you define mental toughness?
I once defined it as a type of resilience; the ability to overcome adversity by using your mental capacity and smarts. While that may indeed be a component, I’ve come to a different global definition for mental toughness. Let’s see what you think…
Mental toughness is the capacity to concentrate on one thing at a time; to laser-focus on the task at hand, while drowning out all other distraction. It’s the discipline to not make things bigger than they really are (in other words, keep perspective); to not allow the past or the future to divert your attention to what’s in front of you; to simply play one play at a time.
I coached high school basketball for eight years. A common consequence of a player missing an easy layup would be that they then played poorly on defense the next play because they couldn’t eradicate the missed shot from their memory. Then on the next offensive possession, they were thinking of the missed shot; the bad play on defense; and “what will everyone think if I blow another one?” This is a terrible cycle. It’s a lack of mental toughness, and it afflicted some of the most physically tough athletes I coached.
It also plagues adults trying to run businesses and grow careers. Negative conversations can turn into bad meetings; turn into bad days; turn into bad weeks/months/years. Get my drift?
It’s not a failing to have this lack of focus enter our minds. Our brains are too complex and “stuff” comes in and out all the time. The key to mental toughness is to identify a “trigger” that will remind you to stay focused. The very best athletes, musicians, artists, sales professionals and CEOs (insert ANY career) have done it. It’s a daily discipline.
I work on it regularly. In fact, there are many times that lack of mental toughness “beats me.” If that happens to you too, then do this: Be kind to yourself. Understand you aren’t a robot and sometimes fail. Figure out the root cause of the failure and aim to identify it. Then next time when the urge to lose focus creeps in, fight back. This kind of muscle memory requires commitment, tenacity, and a positive attitude. The result of winning more frequently is becoming mentally tough. And that my friends, will catapult you to new heights in business and in life.
Quote of the Week:
“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.”
~ Elbert Hubbard
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