Many people assume that mental toughness is quality few people are born with. Mental Toughness is a choice that can be developed as a discipline.
We all face crucible moments in our lives and this is where a person’s mental toughness is both forged and tested. But crucible moments don’t happen every day or even every month. These situations descend upon us without warning and only those who are mentally tough make it through these difficult times.
To prepare for these crucible moments, you need to develop mental toughness just like you strengthen your body with a routine physical exercise. Here are 10 qualities that can develop mental toughness:
1. Emotional Intelligence: In our earlier blog, we had highlighted how organisations value emotional intelligence more than IQ. This is because emotional intelligence (EQ) is considered the cornerstone of mental toughness. A developed EQ helps a person brave the barrage of strong negative emotions associated with crucible moments. Unlike IQ, which is static, EQ is a dynamic skill that you can improve with understanding and effort.
2. Confidence: People who are confident earn higher wages and get promoted easily, a recent study by the University of Melbourne has found. Confidence has a crucial role in one’s ability to succeed and the notion isn’t just a motivational tool – it is a fact. Confident people are far more mentally tough as their confidence inspires others to act unlike those who are doubtful and skittish.
3. Open To Change: Being mentally tough, people are far more open minded and adaptable to change. They understand that fearing change can have a paralyzing effect that can jeopardise a success and happiness. To view change as a positive force, one needs to embrace it. Only individuals with the mental strength can recognise and capitalize on change as an opportunity.
4. Say No: We had highlighted in an earlier blog that those who possess the ability to say “NO” understand the difference between a good idea and a great one. Likewise, research at the University of California in San Francisco has found that people who find it difficult to say “NO” to others, are more prone to experience stress, burnout and even depression. Mentally tough people know that saying no is healthy, and they have the self-esteem and foresight to make their “NOs” clear.
5. Accept failure: To become mentally tough, people need to learn how to accept failure. Mentally tough people know that failures are the stepping stone to success. It is said that the biggest breakthroughs come when you’re feeling the most frustrated and the most stuck. This frustration forces you to look for “creative solutions” – the foundation of innovation.
6. Physical Exercise: A study conducted at the Eastern Ontario Research Institute found that people who exercised twice a week for 10 weeks felt more socially, intellectually and athletically competent. This physical exercise also boosted their body image and self-esteem. Physical exercise is known to release of endorphins – the chemicals boost positivity and confidence – traits which are essential for mental toughness.
7. Sleep: Rest in the form of sleep is said to be the best way for muscles to develop after a rigorous session in the gym. Likewise, our brain also repairs neural connections and stressed brain tissue while we sleep. Our brain needs to get rid of toxic proteins, by-products of neural activity, and this can only be done when we are asleep. Without this sleep detox, our brain function could impair our ability to think.
8. Limit Caffeine Intake: Drinking large amounts of caffeine can trigger the release of adrenaline, our fight-or-flight mechanism. This mechanism sidesteps rational thinking for a rapid response to ensure survival. Caffeine puts your brain and body into a hyper-aroused state of stress and your emotions overrun your behaviour in such a scenario. The people who are mentally tough know that too much caffeine is trouble, and they try to avoid it.
9. Don’t Hold Grudges: To be mentally strong, one must not hold on to grudges and forgive others even before they apologize. Grudges let negative incidents from the past ruin your happiness in the present.
10. Be Positive: Mentally toughness can be developed if a person is positive. Being positive means one does not worry about things they can’t control. They focus their energy on directing the two things that are completely within their power — their attention and their effort. This is a sign of mental toughness.
Finally, here is an anecdote to get you started on the path to becoming mentally tough.
In 1914, Thomas Edison’s factory was gutted in a blaze that destroyed one-of-a-kind prototypes and caused damages to the tune of $23 million.
Any person would have been at their wits end in such a situation, but Edison’s response was: “Thank goodness all our mistakes were burned up. Now we can start fresh again.”
The inventor’s reaction symbolises the mind of a mentally tough person who can see opportunity where others see ruin.
Magnum Opus can help you develop mental toughness through our Executive Coaching and Mindfulness programmes. For more information, contact Magnum Opus at firstname.lastname@example.org or 011-42676768.