Essential Principle of Leadership and Success, and thank you for doing so. As long as we are living, we are bound to encounter challenges, both in and out of our control. A wrong investment could cost you millions in losses, but so could the collapse of the economy. You could wake up in the morning, only to lose the job you have held for 20 years. Anything could happen and turn your world upside down. However, the secret to life is in the ability to pick up the pieces, or even start building anew resolutely.
To do this, you need to be mentally tough, and downloading this book is the first step towards that. By yourself, you will find it almost impossible to remain strong at all times. Some challenges you will overcome easily, while others will outwit you. However, if you learn how to be mentally tough, you will build your mental muscles through a combination of skill, willpower, and resilience.
To that end, the following chapters will seek to sensitize you on the relevance of mental toughness towards the achievement of success in your life. You will learn how to distinguish mental toughness from other attitudes of the mind. You will also get to know why mental toughness is a critical requirement for successful leadership and why it could provide you with a competitive edge against your competition.
You will also get to see some of the big names in the sports and the corporate sector who have excelled in their crafts, courtesy of the mental strength they developed, and how they got to that point. This book is strategically written to point you towards taking up mental toughness techniques that will get you the success that others have achieved. There are plenty of books on this subject on the market, so thanks again for choosing this one! Every effort was made to ensure it is full of as much useful information as possible. Please enjoy!
Mental toughness for an individual is his ability to deal with pressures, stressors, and challenges, and to give the best possible results, in spite of the circumstances that the individual finds himself in. Others define it as the ability to rise after failures and setbacks, and the resolve to spot and take hold of the opportunities that come up. For your memorization, however, here is a more straightforward definition coined by the legendary Vince Lombardi who played and coached in the NFL football.
He said that mental toughness merely is a character in action. This definition may be short, but it captures all that mental toughness is: it is the inner drive to push on and pursue what you want to, driven by your wits or character. Mental toughness is essential because it compensates for the lack of skill, natural ability, and strength. You have often heard it said that the people at the top, in any field whatsoever, are not the most talented; they are those who stayed and kept at it despite the challenges they faced. Mental toughness prevents you from becoming a quitter.
In Pumping Iron, Arnold Schwarzenegger says that you must go on and on, not caring what happens. This resolve is what gets an athlete through the competition at the marathons – they must keep running until they get to the end. Therefore, whatever you call it: balls, guts, wits, or will, this is what we are calling mental toughness. The question now is:
how do you become mentally strong? If you ask around, many coaches, athletes, and corporate leaders will tell you that mental toughness is inborn or developed in the earlier stages of life depending on the environment a child grows up in. It is challenging to transform a wuss into a hardcore unless of course, you take him to prison. However, prison matters aside, we can assume that anyone is capable of improving his patience, tolerance, and concentration, and this is what mental toughness is about.
Mental Toughness in Leadership
Mental toughness is the current buzzword among leaders, but a majority of them is yet to implement it or put it into practice. However, to be successful and effective, every leader needs to be mentally tough. The leader needs to come up with the vision, set and communicate it, and bring his followers onboard. He or she then takes charge and leads them through the journey, seizing opportunities that come up on the way and overcoming the inevitable failures and setbacks.
To take on these responsibilities effectively, a leader needs to be mentally tough. When you look at the profiles of most C-level executives, you will be impressed by the educational credentials and the achievements they have had throughout their years in business. These qualifications led them to the top. However, one critical aspect of every great leader is the ability to be mentally tough in the midst of challenges.
It is what sets apart a great leader from an average one. Corporate leaders have a lot on their plates because besides taking responsibility for the success of some of the largest companies across the globe, they still have to make time for their personal lives. Great leaders make it look easy, but it is only because their beliefs, thoughts, and philosophies have allowed them to be better and more efficient in their work compared to others.
The good news is that although many of the leaders are naturally mentally tough than others are, the rest can still acquire that attitude, with some bit of practice. The great Professor Peter Clough developed a model for recounting and assessing mental toughness through his ‘four Cs’ model. He said that mental toughness is comprised of commitment, control, confidence, and challenge.
This means that a mentally tough person needs to take control over his circumstances and his responses, he must be committed to seeing things through to the end, he must be confident that his influence and ability is adequate for getting him through, and he must consider the challenge a growth opportunity.
A leader will be bombarded daily by situations that require him to summon mental toughness every day through the four Cs. Indeed, these qualities are critical in areas that require resilience and grit to overcome.
They could be new frontiers that need to be explored, setbacks to get over, ambiguous alternatives from which to choose, negative attitudes that need to be reversed, and strained relationships that need to improve.
In all these roles, an overwhelmed weak-willed leader will cave from the pressure. Whether an individual applied to the leadership role or that the organization heads selected him, it is clear that it takes a high level of innate toughness to rise to some of the highest levels of organizational leadership.
Put differently; a leader needs to have or to develop a personality that exhibits mental toughness to be able to handle the issues that arise every day in his organization. A personality is unlikely to change much in a person’s lifetime. This stability prompts the question:
to what extent can mental toughness be learned? We have already established that people can still learn how to develop mental toughness through dedicated and purposeful effort. Therefore, the more a leader lacks in natural grit, the more energy and will he has to put on to become mentally tough. Experts warn that it is challenging to develop mental toughness without a structured training program.
Maintain a Flexible Schedule for Activities Meant to Build Your Mental Toughness Developing a commitment to these activities will help you walk through challenges and overcome the evil of procrastination to get to what you ought to. Some of the areas you should prioritize include your exercise regime, your personal life, or some elements of your work, such as correct planning. Some leaders take an hour of their time, between 1 pm and 2 pm, for a nap. These leaders are refreshed and effective in their work and decision-making. By taking care of these areas, you will increasingly become mentally tough, and your team will respect you and honor your leadership.
Are Positive In Their Thinking, and Only Applaud Positive Things You are what you think. Henry Ford rightfully said that whether you think you can or can’t, you are right. A leader should always think positively about himself. When you put your head and your emotions in the right place, everything else in your life will follow. He should then pass on this positivity to his team. This will help them believe in themselves and you, and that is what makes a capable team. If you catch them doing the right things, do not stop praising them.
The Bottom Line A mentally tough leader is likely to produce a motivated, top-performing team because he has control and passes some of this autonomy to the team. He also makes sure to engage in activities that will enhance his mental health and encourages his team to do the same too. Lastly, by cultivating a positive environment, he ensures that his team is happy in their roles, motivated, and encouraged to keep pursuing excellence in their performance
Mental Toughness Leads to Success
Ever wondered why some people are very good at what they do better than others? Why do you go to one dentist and not the other? Why do you go to one bakery for your bagels and not the other? We are used to answering these questions pointing to the talent or the inborn ability of a person.
We say the baker inherited the skill from his parent, or that the runner is very fast because he inherited the running genes from his mother. However, in my view, there is more to these stories than meets the eye. In fact, if you go deep and examine each of these cases, you will realize that natural talent and intelligence did not play a role as great as you thought it did. Research conducted a few years ago found that intelligence only contributes a 30% proportion towards success.
What makes up for the more substantial proportion, you ask? It’s mental toughness. Experts swear by the fact that grit, or mental toughness, plays a critical role in your achievement of anything in life. This is excellent news to many of us who desire success in some activity but do not carry the genes. We can still be top achievers, if only we become mentally tough. Indeed, mental toughness, courage or guts, whatever you will, are the primary factor in most success stories you will hear. It is what has placed successful people at the height of their success and given them the strength to outlast every challenge and beat down every obstacle in their path. A person with guts will aim at giving his best when pushed to the wall.
Success in anything you will ever get into is less about hard work and competence summed up. Mental toughness is what keeps you encouraged and moving on. It allows you to be confident, consistent and strong particularly in situations of high pressure. Sometimes, hardships and obstacles can rise so high that you will be willing to give in, but mental toughness is the intrinsic pump that will keep you determined and enable you to maintain your focus even when things get rough. You must already be wondering what you can do to become mentally tough.
The truth is that you already are, you only need to kick it up a notch or two. Much of mental toughness is about growing your self-esteem and improving your attitude. When you experience some difficulties, your attitude and what you think about yourself will keep you focused rather than running away from the problem at hand.
This is the reason why we said that you are what you think, in the previous chapter. If you think you can overcome, you surely will, and once you overcome the current challenge, you will be more than ready to overcome the next. Now, you will be developing your mental toughness.
How Mental Toughness Causes You to Succeed
Here are some reasons why mental toughness often leads to success:
1. Mental toughness keeps you motivated
It becomes easier to stick to your goals when you are motivated. Motivation accords you the mental strength you need to enable you to move forward with your goal, even on the days when your strength has declined, or you feel discouraged. This is just because you will have the energy to dig deeper and to discover your inner strength.
2. Mental toughness overcomes self-doubt
As a human being, you are bound to have moments of self-doubt, when you begin to question the feasibility of your goal, given your current ability and resources. This is a normal part of the process. The problem is that some people give too much thought to it and end up getting sidelined from their primary goals and ambitions. However, with a tough mind, you are likely to reframe that doubt and negative talk into a positive source of drive and encouragement. This will increase your confidence significantly, and keep you moving forward.
3. Mental toughness sees to it that you learn from your mistakes
This is not to mean that mental toughness is a strategy or punishing yourself. Instead, mental toughness keeps you from walking away from your mistakes or coming up with excuses for your flops. Hiding from, and burying your mistakes only increases the possibility of repeating them. However, if you are mentally strong, you will humbly accept your mistake and honestly go through the lesson that comes off it. Every learning opportunity will get you closer and closer to the goal you intended to reach.
4. Mental toughness accords you the courage you need to face your fears
Stepping out of your comfort zone is difficult. However, mental grit makes it easier by giving you the courage you need to meet all fears you may have head-on. When you feel strong, you have the confidence you need to tolerate any discomfort, and you develop the will and ability to move forward, your distress notwithstanding.
5. Makes it easier to regulate your emotions
The path to success is one filled with a series of emotional lows and highs. If you lack the skills you need to control your emotions, you will struggle to regulate your impulses. You will have trouble taking calculated risks, resisting temptations, and delaying gratification. Mental toughness gives you the skills you need to control all these emotions, to ensure that they do not cloud your judgments and that you do not make decisions that could cause you to suffer losses or lead you astray.
6. Mental strength makes it easier for you to bounce back from failure
When failure comes about, the natural progression for most people is to give up. However, mentally tough people bounce back from failure better than ever. They have high regard for their self-worth and can tolerate repeat failure without fainting or fearing that they will be a source of ridicule. Therefore, when mentally strong, your failure becomes a stepping stone to success. It is said that the guy who invented the electric bulb had made 100 attempts before he was able to come up with one that works. When asked about his experience, he said that it had taught him 100 ways not to make the electric bulb. In the same way, let your failures become your teachers such that when you fail because of a wrong step you took in one area, next time you will be careful not to take that step again.
7. Mental toughness enables you to tune out contrary advice
If you have been around awhile, you already know how easy it is for other people’s opinions of you and your issues can drown your voice. It is easy to stop pursuing what is important to you and to focus on what other people want you to achieve. Living by the expectations of others often causes you to lead a miserable life. However, a life lived according to your views and values enables one of happiness.
You remain strong and focused on making the right decisions, in spite of the reception and feedback you get from people around you. Kindly note that for any path of life you choose to take, there will be challenges and obstacles at every corner. They are situated there as barriers and derailments towards you achieving success. However, if you work on building your mental strength, you will become resilient and be able to go over the obstacles and setbacks with grace and confidence. Eventually, you achieve success.
How Will You Build Mental Toughness in Your Life?
Walter Mischel, a professor at Stanford, conducted a study examining the benefits of mental grit using marshmallows and a group of children as the test subjects. He gave the children the option of either having one marshmallow immediately or waiting a little while and getting two. The children who chose to wait got two marshmallows, and a broader search into their lives indicated that they maintained this ‘success’ even into their later years.
Their ability to delay gratification caused them to enjoy greater SAT score, lowered their likelihood of becoming diabetic, lowered their rate of substance abuse, and they generally scored higher in other measures of success in life. This study goes to show that a combination of perseverance, grit, and self-control, all constituents of mental toughness, may guarantee success in life.
Therefore, if you want to experience this success in life, you’re going need it. Epictetus said that things do not disturb the people but by the opinion they have of them does. The challenge you encounter in the course of your life will not matter, what matters is the reaction you will have towards it. Developing the right attitude towards failure will require you to know that failure does not condemn your abilities; it is merely a reaction or feedback to the effort put. It is not personal in any way.
Just like the process of production releases a few mistakes and hiccups, expect the same in your own life. Expect many of these bumps because the road to perfection is as such. The more attempts you will make, the more mistakes you will make, and the more skills you develop. You do not develop skills because you did it one time and excelled at it; skill is acquired by trying out different things until you get what is suitable. I compare the process of overcoming challenges to the process of falling in love. Love is born out of mistakes and failures.
If someone did too well by you, you wouldn’t tell if you loved them in the end, they would be like a machine that works effectively, meeting your needs all the time. However, when you are in love, you have the ability to forgive and overcome mistakes your partner makes. This is when you realize the depth of love you have for him or her. With each hurdle you two overcome, you grow deeper in love. In the same way, strength in life is born out of overcoming challenges, one after another. Kindly take note of the need to recharge and recover.
Although the idea of mental toughness depicts the picture of an individual relentlessly working all the time, the primary reason for this is that the individual gets time for rest. It turns out we are not machines, and there are biological limits to what we can do at a time. A fatigued mind is ineffective. Experts call this decision fatigue.
It comes about because every mental task takes away some amount of strength. Perhaps you could try reducing the number of decisions you make daily to reserve energy for the more important decisions you will have to make. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barrack Obama, and other great people often wore or still wear the same few items of clothing every day, in a bid to conserve their willpower.