Nothing in life is inherently easy. You must work for success and cut through a lot of stuff to achieve your goals. It takes resilience and certain amount of mental toughness to stay focused and work towards those goals day after day, despite everything thrown at you.
Mental toughness is more than just a mindset – it’s a muscle you can build and tap into when things get particularly tough. Imagine Sarah Sellers, who recently came in second place at the Boston Marathon. She works a full-time job as a nurse anesthetist and still found time to train for one of the world’s most prestigious distance races, before and after 10 hour shifts at Banner-University Medical Center in Arizona. The day of the marathon presented sub-optimal running conditions with pouring rain and winds upwards of 30 miles per hour.She pushed through what was almost certainly a grueling three hours that required exceptional mental toughness.
Whether you’re pushing through tight deadlines, angling for a promotion, or dealing with combative coworkers, that same mental toughness can be applied in the workplace to overcome adversity and achieve success.
What Is Mental Toughness and Why Does It Matter?
Mental toughness means something different to everyone, but at its core, it is the ability to face and overcome adversity under high levels of stress. It is the ability to run that last mile when your legs feel like rubber, to push through that one more meeting when you just want to go home, and to overcome that voice in the back of your head that says “maybe not today…”
Mental toughness provides an edge that allows you to not only overcome adversity, but to perform at a higher level and meet or exceed limits that you might otherwise face. It is something that kicks in when things get hard, at the point where you’re most likely to give up.
People who are mentally tough will always act as if they are in control, will push aside the things that they cannot control, and will learn from the past and use it for improvement. At the same time, they celebrate and appreciate the successes of those around them and worry about impressing themselves not others. They are grateful for what they achieve, introspective of what they do not, and when a problem arises, they strive to fix it, not complain about it. These traits can help you overcome almost anything put in your path.
How You Can Improve and Develop Mental Toughness
Mental toughness does not come naturally to most people. It’s a trained skill. A mental muscle that you must work on and actively improve if you want to see true benefits. It’s human nature to worry about what others think and to get a little depressed when something goes wrong. But with the right mindset and training, you can develop greater mental toughness and tackle these potential issues head on. Improve your mental toughness by focusing on these six elements:
- Don’t Worry About Things That are Out of Your Control – Focus on things that you have the ability to control and try not to worry about things that are outside of your control. It is not possible to control everything and it is a waste of time and energy to spend time worrying about things that you have no control over.
- Being Prepared Will Help Boost Confidence – If you have a big speech coming up, a meeting with a major client, or are going in for a review, prepare for it. By practicing your speech many times, reviewing your facts and bringing supporting materials, and knowing ahead of time what you want to say, your confidence will be higher.
- Remain Positive and Manage Your Emotions – Keep your words and body language positive.. Negative actions and words can breed negative emotions. By managing your emotions, you avoid excessive negativity that impacts your resilience.
- Celebrate Your Accomplishments – Find your sense of pride. What are you working towards and what can you accomplish? Pushing towards a goal that will make you feel good can have a major impact on your mental toughness.
- Learn from Past Experiences – The past is full of mistakes that are easy to dwell on, but don’t. Learn from those mistakes, learn from the successes and failures of others, and then let them go. See the past as training for the future. You might fail, but in that failure, you’ve learned what you can do better.
- Support Those Around You – It’s easy to feel resentment when someone else succeeds. A win for a colleague is one less possible win for you, right? Not so fast. Your colleague’s success has nothing to do with your own. Celebrate wins whenever you see them, and your colleagues will do the same for you. Letting go of that resentment can make you tougher.
You will always come across challenging times in your professional and personal life. You’ll want to give up, and it’s in those moments, that a little bit of extra mental toughness can make all the difference. To support your growth and help build that mental toughness, look to those around you. A network of like-minded women who can support and motivate you through challenging obstacles on your path to success can make all the difference.