An important component of mental toughness is having the self-belief that you WILL be successful in your current endeavour or project. If you are highly confident that the routine or process that you use, overlaid with your own skills and abilities, will produce the desired outcome, then you are less likely to hesitate or falter when you sense danger signs or experience some initial resistance.
If you are 90% confident rather than 20% confident, and realistically not recklessly so, then your mindset will be strong and positive which will be most likely be reflected in your behaviour which in turn determines the outcome more often than not in your favour.
With this premise in mind I enjoyed reading a story by Jeff Goins, entitled ‘Why Some People Succeed (And Others Don’t)’, first published online in the Mission. In the story he talks about the one word that changed everything.
Over to you Jeff.
Do you know what made the difference for all this? What ultimately led to my success? Not a book. Not a motivational poster. Not some hollow cliche.
It was the belief and determination that eventually I would get there — to that place I wanted to be. I suspended any expectations of how long this should take, despite my adolescent impatience with all things taking longer than I’d like them to take.
In Good to Great, Jim Collins calls this the Stockdale Paradox, named after James Stockdale, a US Navy Admiral who was imprisoned in a Vietnamese POW camp during the Vietnam War. Collins asked him who didn’t make it out of Vietnam, and Stockdale replied:
“Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart. This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be… I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”
When I made this realization, I got to work, being honest about the process but also determined to succeed at some point. If I wasn’t successful yet, then maybe I didn’t deserve to be. I’d just have to keep going and keep trying.
Colbie Caillat said this of her experience with getting rejected on American Idol before she went on to become a mega pop star. “They were right to reject me,” she said. “I wasn’t that good.” That rejection, in part, drove her to improve. It made her curious. It made her hungry, desperate to know what she lacked. A similar thing happened to me. I grew frustrated with setting and not meeting my goals. So, instead, I made a new word my mantra: eventually.
Eventually, I’ll make it.
Eventually, I’ll become a writer.
Eventually, I’ll replace my income and get to do this full-time.
But not today. Today, I practice. Today, I get better. Today, I became a little bit more of the self I long to be.
You, too, can make it. But only if you get good enough. Only if you humble yourself to learn the lessons others can teach you, even those you might not want to learn. Only if you are willing to say “eventually.”
Six years later, I am still saying that. I’m not yet where I want to be, but eventually I’ll get there.
And as for today?
Well, today, I practice.
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