Is mental toughness inherent? In other words, are we born mentally tough or is it a learned skill? Perhaps the better question is, what does mental toughness look like and how do we become mentally tough?
Much to the surprise of many, mental toughness is a learned trait. We are not born with mental toughness. That’s great news! It means that anyone who wants to learn how to become mentally tough can do so. Learning how to be metal tough is no different than learning how to play an instrument, speak a new language or to become a great presenter.
So why is mental toughness such an important skill to know? Let’s first begin by examining what makes someone mentally tough. It’s all about the 4 C’s: control, commitment, challenge and confidence. Let’s look at each more closely.
1. Control - Being in control is not about trying to manipulate everything so it goes your way. It’s about being in control of your emotions, actions and reactions. Mentally tough people do not allow others to control their emotions, therefore allowing them to remain focused on taking the right action, which yields a specific result. You can say these people are laser focused.
2. Commitment - Having a clearly defined purpose often becomes your life’s passion. Passion provides the fuel that keeps us on track to achieve any goal we set. It will help eliminate internal and external distractions allowing us to stay committed to the most important tasks, which keeps us moving closer towards our goals.
3. Challenge – For me, this step defines the true mindset of the mentally tough. Anyone who has ever set a goal or who has sought to change and improve their life, personally and/or professionally is faced with challenges. It’s like death and taxes...challenges are inevitable! People who have learned to become mentally tough embrace challenges and welcome the lessons. Every time you embrace and overcome challenges, you inherently become tougher, enabling you to be more prepared to succeed. It is what separates those who try from those who do. Which are you?
4. Confidence - What is confident to some, is cockiness to others. We’ve all seen it, that person who seems so sure of themselves. They put out the vibe, “I’ve got this.” But the reality is, they know if they don’t believe in themselves...who will? All success starts with a belief, a belief in yourself!
So there you have it, the 4 C’s of mental toughness. What area do you need to improve on? When will you choose to apply these lessons so you can become the strongest person you know? I encourage you to share this information with a coworker or team. How can your company become more mentally tough? How can you support each other on this journey?
I am curious, who are the toughest people you know and why? A few who come to mind for me are Winston Churchill, Tom Brady and Mother Theresa.