What you may not realize about mental toughness, is that even a Prosecco and Perrier-loving introvert who loves fashion and dinner parties can also be mentally tough. People like Beyoncé, Bono and Brad Pitt got where they are because they developed mental toughness. Presentation, personality, work ethic and talent all contribute to success, but it’s not enough. In fact, if you want to do anything interesting at all, you need mental toughness.
So here is what I learned at Special Black Ops training with Ron Harvey (aka his “mental toughness” seminar); it’s about being resilient, having grit and getting things done no matter what — all the things that those other fancy high achievers do.
The truth is this: you (or anybody) can become mentally tougher. This is how Mr. Harvey defines mental toughness:
“The ability to work hard and respond with resiliency to failure and adversity; the inner quality that enables individuals to work hard and stick to their long-term passions and goals.”
Raising the performance level of your team is a matter of working on the 4 qualities that make up mental toughness.
Focus + Confidence + Commitment + Adaptability = Mental Toughness
First a word about my Mental Toughness Teacher, Ron. He’s retired from the Army and used to work with the DOD. He’s spent years training real soldiers to perform at a high level under extreme pressure (like bombs and stuff). Click GlobalCoreStrategies to read more about his company.
Being mentally tough is a lot like working out on a regular basis. It just has to be something that you do, like brushing your teeth, (flossing is good too).
Now you may be thinking, what does Focus + Confidence + Commitment + Adaptability and Black Ops training have to do with communication?
The answer in a word: Everything. (Okay maybe not so much the Black Ops training)
To break it down, let’s start with Focus.
If you want to improve your ability to focus, tell yourself, “Let’s focus on this thing now.” Tell your team, “if you want to get this thing done, you gotta focus more.”
Focus on the task is mission critical. It is also true that every distraction known to man – from people dropping by your office to pings on your cell phone to unexpected fire alarms – are there to keep you unfocused. And before you tell me that you’re ADHD, I’ll just remind you that you can either present your excuses not to perform or you can just do it.
While saying isn’t doing, stating an intention to focus on something for an amount of time plants the idea in your brain. If you tell yourself in the right way, you’ll do it.(Hint to those who’d rather be on the sofa than mentally tough — I’m with you on this — the trick is to make focusing easy for you. Baby steps.)
If you’re rather donate a kidney than focus, there is a solution.
Get rid of as many distractions as you can. Turn off your phone. Set a timer. Go someplace quiet. Stop when your time is up.
Then reward yourself. Starbucks is always a good idea for this.
And, BTW, Ron affirmed the claim that multitasking sounds sexy, but it’s really a tall tale. In his words, “you can only be on one channel at time.”
Like all good qualities, confidence comes from doing, not from thinking about doing. But doing something comes after the right message from your brain. And talking to your brain is communication.
It’s reminding yourself of past successes and that if it’s worthwhile to do, it might not work out exactly the way you would like. In other words, risk is part of success.
With my private coaching clients, we work on building Nobel-Prize Winner Confidence. That kind of confidence comes from doing and saying. Most confidence-building conversations are with yourself and being mindful of the innate negativity bias.
Confidence comes from a certain perspective on life events. Muhammad Ali put it, “If you can back it up, it’s not bragging.”
Let’s play word association. If I say “commitment” what do you think of?
How about wedding bells?
When any two people are married, it’s because a specific conversation took place at some point.
Being committed is also being loyal to your word. It means your saying = your doing.
If you’re committed, you choose words accordingly.
You commit to being your best self. You don’t blather on about being some sort of idiot.
You commit to trying your best. If it doesn’t work out like you wanted, you either try again or change your plan.
You commit to supporting another person. Supporting is encouraging. Supporting is not insisting they do what you want.
You commit to being there.
Change is annoying sometimes. What works for me is to assume that the change will be for the best, even if it seems inconvenient and unappealing. My adaptability mantra is “make it work for you.”
Part of being an amazingly effective communicator means you adapt your message to your audience.
Being mentally tough means you adapt to what is. It also means you accept that constantly adapting to change is exciting and exhausting.
Change means opportunity and either you’re going to take advantage and make it work for you, or you’re going to waste time and energy wishing it wasn’t so.
From the 4 ingredients need for more mental toughness, start with one and see what happens. In the end, being more mentally tough means you do more and suffer less, just like a runner who trains is better off than one who doesn’t.