Mental Toughness for Success

Few of us wake up in the morning with the intention of being a hero. Instead, we hope to get by without any major stumbling blocks and aim to do what is expected of us.  It’s only when confronted with obstacles that threaten to derail our routines and plans that we don the armor and go into battle. As they say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Here’s something to think about: What if we’re missing opportunities to get what we want – and help others get what they want – by not seeing the obstacles early enough?

In the work I do coaching individuals, I’ve noticed a big difference in the way successful people think and prioritize their plans. Successful people don’t limit their worldview. They aren’t imprisoned in their mind by circumstances. They see a universe of possibilities.  They don’t want to simply “get by,” but rather they have the mental toughness to ask for more, no matter the barriers.

What Is Mental Toughness?

Some people think that mental toughness is the ability to plow through circumstances without being affected by emotions or feelings. When it comes to success, however, high performers know that the key is to identify, control, and manage emotions, both their own and others’.

“Mental toughness is many things and rather difficult to explain. Its qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. Also, most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in. It’s a state of mind – you could call it ‘character in action.’” – Vince Lombardi

Mental toughness means perceiving, understanding, using, and managing feelings. When you are aware and curious about emotions, you are sensitive to others’ needs. This puts you in a stronger position to sort out negative from positive feelings and make better decisions.

Wikipedia describes mental toughness as a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances and emerge without losing confidence.

Only within the past ten years has scientific research attempted a formal definition of mental toughness as a psychological construct.  Dr. Jim Loehr of the Human Performance Institute, in his book The New Toughness Training for Sports, defined mental toughness as “the ability to consistently perform towards the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of competitive circumstances.”

What do you think about your own mental toughness? Do you need to improve it, tone it down, or are you operating in the zone of “just right?” I’d love to hear from you; contact me here or on LinkedIn.