For a different angle on mental toughness I enjoy reading the blogs by FBI Agent LaRae Quy. She describes her experiences in the Bureau, the mental demands it places on agents and the coping mechanisms she recommends. In this blog below she discusses mental toughness for entrepreneurs.
The FBI Academy engages their new agents by teaching them psychological readiness. At the root of all the mental training was the answer to this question: are you mentally tough enough to beat the opponent?
Complexity and turbulence in the business creates opponents and tough competition. Not only do entrepreneurs need to be psychologically prepared to do battle with their competitors, they need to deal with stress, recover from mistakes quickly, adjust strategies with each new innovation, and stay positive about their chances of success.
Yes, you do need to compete if you want to run a successful business; you also need to be mentally tough enough to make it happen.
- CREATE THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
Mentally tough entrepreneurs do not rely on knowledge, skills, ability or past success to break through roadblocks. Instead, they draw on an attitude of toughness that allows them to push through hard situations and face adversity with confidence.
FBI agents are trained how to conduct complex and sophisticated investigations, but they are also trained in mental toughness. This does not mean they bulldoze their way through people or problems; instead, they are trained to be aware of their own emotions and reactions when they are being pushed into their discomfort zones.
You can only be game-ready when you can predict your response when confronted with the unknown.
- Be curious about the things you do not know.
- Let your grasp exceed your reach.
- Place yourself in situations where you are a beginner
2. STRETCH TO BE MORE FLEXIBLE
When mentally tough entrepreneurs move past their comfort zone, they learn how to absorb the unexpected. This makes them more self aware and in the process they become mentally stronger, because they learn how to anticipate their responses and correct them if needed.
Stretching past our comfort zone helps us learn how to be flexible in our approach when something doesn’t turn out as expected. We can quickly decide to change course or look for new ways to solve the problem.
FBI arrests rarely go according to plan so agents are required to be flexible, even in very tense and dangerous situations. Constant training helps them uncover their go-to reflexes and evaluate whether they are helpful or harmful, before actually finding themselves in an unexpected situation.
- Constantly re-educate yourself, even in the basics
- Resist falling back on ideas simply because they are comfortable
- Always look for new ways to do business
3. MANAGE RELATIONSHIPS
Mentally tough entrepreneurs are emotionally competent enough to manage the relationships that affect them and their ability to be effective.
If they experience a setback, they know how to keep their emotions in check so they can set the tone for the rest of the organization. Mentally tough leaders do the right thing for the organization and suppress the temptation to cut corners. They know how to make the right decisions for their team.
Teamwork is essential for all law enforcement, and communication must be clear and concise. In addition, FBI agents use interviews more than any other investigative tool in their arsenal which requires them to respond appropriately and effectively to the emotional reactions of their audience.
- Work on communicating in ways that cultivate healthy, enduring, and valuable relationships
- Cut loose relationships that weigh you down or are negative
- Recognize that collaboration is actually a back-and-forth flow of ideas, words, and actions
4. DEVELOP A CHAMPION MINDSET
Mentally tough entrepreneurs have a champion mindset that remains engaged when they are under pressure. They are constantly identifying the opportunities, challenges, and threats to their environment.
A champion mindset looks for new ways to think about adversity, and most importantly, looks for fresh ways to look at problems and roadblocks. Champions look at life with a sense of urgency and respond to the challenges of the changing face of business with innovation and curiosity.
FBI Cases are not given to agents with directions on how to solve them. Each one is a mystery to be explored, which means setbacks and false assumptions are encountered along the way. The champion mindset continues to chip away at a mystery, or problem, until a solution can be found.
- Pay attention to what is going on in the world around you
- Jettison old assumptions about how business operates
- Assume holding onto yesterday’s trend, or solution, is dangerous