One of my favourite mental toughness quotes is “the earlier you start the earlier you succeed” because its sums up the mindset of the successful and mentally strong people I know – they just get moving early and make things happen. And then they do it again. Words like reliable, persistent, patient, calm, methodical come easily to mind.
I enjoyed reading this post in the excellent Forbes magazine by fellow recruiter Jack Kelly because he so aptly describes how successful people use mental toughness to achieve their success.
Take it away Jack:
The common denominator is that these mentally strong people pursued their visions in the face of all overwhelming obstacles. They didn’t let challenges stand in their way or diminish their drive and dedication. Many failed for years before realizing any small measure of success. The biggest lesson I have learned is that their mental habits were crucial to their success.
The first productive thing that mentally tough people do is wake up in the morning and get out of bed. They go to bed and wake up early so that they are clearheaded to accomplish the jobs at hand. They don’t hit the snooze button 10 times because they have been out late at night partying. Nor do they hide under the covers ruminating about past failures, things that have gone wrong in their lives or obsessively mull over past slights and humiliations. They summon up the strength to block out any negativity and get out of bed at an early hour. Mentally strong people already have a game plan prepared for what they will do that day. They already know the tasks at hand and get started right away. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are happy about everything they need to do, but they attack it anyway.
Mentally strong people face the day unafraid of failure. They understand that failing is part of the process. It is a learning experience for them. They take notes and learn lessons of what not to do in the future. Even if they fail, usually they will have learned some new skills to use in future plans. These folks will brush themselves off, get up and start all over again. Of course, they are not giddy with enjoyment that things didn’t turn out the way they wanted, but it doesn’t ruin them emotionally.
The mentally tough don’t take it personally when things don’t go the way they planned. They recognize that they are not entitled to automatic success and that it takes hard work, planning, execution and luck. Sometimes luck is not on their side. It doesn’t stop them, as they feel that eventually things will turn out in their favor if they keep trying and refuse to give up.
Mentally resilient people spend a lot of time thinking about how they will achieve their goals. They then prepare a game plan with benchmarks to hit over a period of time. They stick with the plan and work like crazy to meet the deadlines. They ignore all the haters and negative people who want them to fail.
When business or their career goes really well, they don’t let it go to their heads. They avoid bragging about their wealth, fame, fortune and all the stuff they recently purchased. Also, they don’t let themselves become despondent when things don’t work out right. They remain calm, cool and collected. They understand that there will be highs and lows and try to ride out both with professionalism and grace.
They have their own opinions and don’t care if the majority of people disagree with them. They don’t follow the crowd; rather, they follow their dreams and passions. They are immune to peer pressure. It’s not easy, but they work hard at it. If people look at them as if they are crazy, so what? It’s not important what strangers think about you.
Mentally hardened people know how to defer gratification. They save their money to funnel into their business or career. They may live at home after college or have many roommates in the bad part of town to save money. These folks won’t buy the expensive-status cars and purchase showy McMansions just to brag to the neighbors. They want to have money readily available to fund their endeavors.
Mentally rugged people may be afraid, but they forge ahead anyway. They won’t let fear stop them from achieving their desires. It’s not easy, but they do it.
It is easy to be distracted by our smartphones and everything else around us. Mentally tenacious people block out the extraneous noise and hyperfocus on their tasks at hand.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff” is one of their mantras. They don’t worry about petty nonsense, like most of us do. The dirty look from a stranger on a train, a driver cutting you off, a cashier taking way too long to ring up a customer is taken all in stride by a mentally strong person. They can’t afford to waste their energy on these irritants. They save their strength for important fights ahead that have meaningful results.
Continual learning is important to mentally vigorous people. They want to know everything about their chosen field. They also want to learn things that will help them improve and become much more knowledgeable in life.
It’s hard to turn down opportunities, but they know when to say “no.” If something does not fit into their game plan and long-term goals, they will have the courage to politely turn it down—as they recognize it will be a time distraction.
We all undergo pressure, but the mentally tough don’t let it break them. They work hard toward becoming physically and emotionally fit to deal with the difficult times.
The interesting thing about all these characteristics is that they seem so easy and attainable; and they are. It all boils down to the dedication in achieving it. Most of these people are not amazingly brilliant or phenomenally charismatic. They often start off from humble beginnings—counter to our perceived notions that they were born to wealth. What they do possess in abundance is the mental toughness to develop a plan and work like hell to achieve it, despite all the setbacks, naysayers and failures. The amazing thing is that it is possible for all of us to do this as well.