Throughout my career, I had the unique opportunity to work and to serve incredibly successful individuals. Though they excel in different fields, from entertainment to sport, from business to politics, they all share a common trait: they master mental toughness.
Mental toughness allowed a successful businessman to battle cancer and to overcome it. It assisted a rock star to find the spark again and to bounce back when an album sold poorly. It helped an athlete staying positive when he got injured and remaining focused when the media tried to tarnish his image. It allowed a politician to remain loyal to his vision and commitment, when there were plans to kill him.
To achieve success, talent and intelligence are both useful. But they are not the key ingredients for peak performance. Instead, mental toughness is. In fact, studies have demonstrated that psychology is responsible for 80 per cent of the success. This is great news, because while there is little we can do about our given genes, we can instead acquire mental toughness [By the way, did you get my free tool kit?]
Mental Toughness Lessons from the Great.
In order to help you develop habits for mental toughness, let me share with you 15 habits that I learned from the high achievers I had the pleasure of working with. As you read them, ask yourself: which of these habits do I have already? Which one do I need to develop? And which do I need to strengthen?
They nourish self-awareness. The quality of our life mirrors the quality of our emotions. People, who experience excellence in their life, have developed the skill of emotional mastery. They know how to read their emotions. When they experience negative emotions, they don’t dwell in them, but instead give them an empowering meaning. Because of this habit, they are able to live in a resourceful and beautiful state of mind. Among the practices they use to nourish self-awareness, is daily journaling.
They develop confidence. Successful people focus on what they can control and let go of what they cannot. In other words, they are in control of the meaning they attach to what happens to them. They are confident, because they are clear about the purpose of their life and their work. They have an ultimate vision for what they want to achieve. Because they are confident, mentally tough people accomplish things and inspire others. In fact, confidence gives them total belief in their ability to get the outcome they are set to achieve.
They reframe negative thoughts. People who have mental toughness don’t dwell in debilitating self-doubt. They have trained their brain to reframe negative thoughts into empowering thoughts. They transform negative thoughts in triggers to remind themselves about all the blessings they had in life, what they have already accomplished, what their purpose in life is. To develop this capacity, mentally tough people keep a log of their thoughts to help them become aware of their mental processes.
They have a clear purpose. Their actions are rooted in a deep running motivation. People with mental toughness not only know what they want, but they are also clear about why they want it. Their purpose keeps them going also when they are met with obstacles and challenges. Their motivation is so strong, that they know they will create the desired outcome no matter what. Purpose is the gasoline that puts them on fire.
They have well defined goals. They absolutely know what they want, that is which target they want to hit. They have well defined, concrete, measurable goals in the long, medium and short term not only for their career but also for all their areas of life, from health to romance. They have designed their goals in alignment with their purpose. They know that well designed goals work like magnets. [Get here my free tool to help you define your goals].
They practice discipline. As Jim Rohn wrote, “Discipline attracts opportunity.” Discipline is how mental toughness manifests. In fact, discipline is the ability to constantly apply the fundamentals of achievement. The repetition of fundamental tasks has a compounding effect. It’s the daily steps you take that get you over the finish line.
They welcome change. What gets you to the desired outcome is flexibility and flexibility is the skill of constantly adjusting and shifting in order to maintain the course and achieve your goal. Those who welcome change also embrace growth. If we want to become better, if we want to achieve our goals, than we need to constantly grow. Those who welcome change not only enjoy the results, but also the process, the journey to get to the desired goal.
They take responsibility. People with mental toughness have zero-tolerance for excuses. They don’t blame others or circumstances but they take full responsibility. As Tony Robbins says, they appreciate that life doesn’t happen to them but always for them.
They have the ability to say no. People with mental toughness are not pleasers. When needed, they know how to say no in a way that is constructive and respectful. They know how to say no, because they have clarity of purpose and they have a map on how to get to the results they have set for themselves. Purpose and priorities are clear.
They cultivate empathy. They are masters in the art of rapport building. People with mental toughness connect deeply with the people and the environments in which they operate. They understand how people see the world and they are curious about the model of the world that other use to give meaning to their reality. Because they know how to tune in to another person, people in their proximity feel their presence. [To improve your empathy, I invite you to download my free tool kit here].
They know that there is no failure, only feedback. Because they strive for excellence, people with mental toughness live according to the principle that in life there is no failure, but only feedback. Something that didn’t go as planned is vital data to understand how to be better and how to perform at an even higher level. They like challenges because they boost motivation and drive.
They are open to criticism. They are not worried about validating their intelligence. They are not consumed by constantly asking what others think about them. Rather, their focus on constantly learning. They have the humility to know that you can be always better. They know that you need to put constant effort in striving for excellence because who doesn’t go forward goes backwards. People with mental toughness welcome constructive criticism, because they value the opportunity to learn and to become better.
They turn problems into opportunities. When mistakes are made or problems arise, people with mental toughness are not deterred. They don’t play the role of victims. They don’t waste time sitting on the pity potty. To the contrary, in mistakes and in adverse circumstances, they see an opportunity to grow, to contribute more, to become better. Their motto is, “If I can’t, then I must.”
They practice gratitude. They live in a state of gratitude. Even in the face of adversity, they are capable of appreciation. They are grateful for all the experiences of life, for all the learning and for all the opportunities. There don’t distinguish between good things for which to be grateful and bad things for which not to be. Their appreciation for life is comprehensive and integrated. Their day begins and ends with a sense of deep gratitude for all they have and for all that happens.
They take care of their body. People with mental toughness live in harmony. They value the importance that energy has in their life. This is because they don’t only take good care of their career and their relations, but also for their health and body. They exercise regularly; they nourish themselves in a healthy way, making sure to keep their acidity low and their alkaline high.
People whose life is supported by mental toughness strive for excellence. They reject mediocrity. They are aware they have only one life, this life, to make a dent in the universe. And they go for it!
And if you want to upgrade your own mental toughness, you can start by downloading my free tool kit here.