You can develop your mental toughness
Mental toughness has been described as having the single minded determination to do do whatever it takes to achieve what you set out to do …. It’s about having the resilience to bounce back when things don’t quite work to plan.
It’s a quality that enables people to try something new – and not give it up early just because they suck at it. To achieve enduring changes and improvements in your life requires perseverance and mental toughness.
It is one of those qualities that ends up separating people who are good at something, compared to those who eventually become great.
Whether it is in the sporting arena or the world of business, mental toughness is about having an ability to maintain focus on your goals, and possessing the stamina and self-belief to deal with adversity, disappointments and obstacles that arise along the way.
It is easier to feel confident when you know that you have trained hard and prepared yourself well ……. there is absolutely no substitute for a solid work ethic as a foundation stone for goal-achievement.
But the mental side of the performance equation is just as important, if not more important than having the physical skills and ability to succeed in your chosen endeavor. There are plenty of examples in sports where we have seen naturally gifted athletes fail to perform when the pressure was on, or get too easily distracted by external “noise” and be thrown off their game.
Not giving up
People with mental toughness resist any urge to give up or make excuses, just because things have become more difficult than what was anticipated or because things are not working out as planned.
They draw upon a deep sense of self-belief within the core of their being, that they possess the ability to overcome the challenges that have been thrown at them. This means they keep on fighting, because they believe that things can turn around.
Failure as a learning experience
One of the essential foundations that underpins mental toughness is the resilience to bounce back from the disappointment of so-called failure. This rests on having an attitude of optimism, that something useful can still be gained from the experience and that next time you will be better and wiser because of what you have learned.
Controlling demons in the mind
Mental toughness can be cultivated by learning to exercise control over your mind and recognising that you can choose the type of thoughts to focus upon. You can learn to avoid the type of negative and self-defeating thinking that.causes people to quit when things get difficult.
You can foster self-confidence by reminding yourself of past times when you have succeeded and overcome obstacles – rather than allowing anxiety to flourish by dreading and fearing the worst-case scenario that might never actually happen in the future.
You develop physical stamina by training the body and engaging in a discipline of controlling what you do so as to ensure you get regular physical exercise…… In the same way, mental stamina is cultivated through the discipline of learning to control what you think, so that self-defeating thoughts will be banished from your mind.
You don’t allow your car to simply drive itself, you steer it in the direction that you want it to go…… Similarly, mental toughness is about taking control of your thought processes.
Lessons from sports psychology
Many professional sports teams now-days, in football, basketball, athletics and soccer for example, employ sports psychologists to help their athletes develop the mental toughness necessary to compete at the elite level. One of the techniques that sports psychologists teach athletes is how to control their anxiety levels, through deep breathing and muscle tension release, combined with the type of thought-control that we explored earlier.
What the research has shown is that some pressure can enhance performance levels, however excessive anxiety will undermine performance and increase the likelihood of mistakes being made. So learning ways of managing anxiety and pressure can help to strengthen your mental fitness.
The following video clip offers some great tips on developing mental toughness in sports – but the ideas are equally relevant to developing a positive attitude in business and life. See what you think …..
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