Ever considered why some people thrive in life – experience major success in nearly every area – while others just barely survive? Why some excel and others fail?
Many experts say the difference between those who see success in life, health, and wealth is mental toughness.
Wikipedia defines mental toughness as a measure of individual resilience and confidence that may predict success in sport, education and the workplace.
In other words, mental toughness – sometimes called mental fortitude – is having the positive mental attitude, coping skills, and resilience necessary to overcome life’s challenges. Yet, usually, people with mental toughness don’t just beat the obstacles that cross their path, they beat them down with amazing, positive, results.
Thus, mental toughness is very likely the “X-factor” between those who are smart and successful, and those who experience dramatic, awe-inspiring, results—often despite challenging conditions stacked against them.
In fact, “Research is starting to reveal that your mental toughness — or “grit” as they call it — plays a more important role than anything else for achieving your goals in health, business, and life. That’s good news because you can’t do much about the genes you were born with, but you can do a lot to develop mental toughness,” (http://jamesclear.com/mental-toughness).
Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania, studied West Point cadets who were able to successfully complete their summer orientation toughness tests called “Beast Barracks.” These exercises stretched the limits of these new cadets’ physical, mental, and emotional strength. She analyzed their results along with factors like class rank, SAT score, GPA, Leadership Potential Score (based on extracurricular participation), Physical Aptitude Score (based on a standardized physical evaluation), and Grit Score (which measured perseverance when pursuing long-term goals).
The most common predictor of success in the Beast Barracks was the Grit Score. Those with high Grit Scores overwhelmingly performed better on the Beast Barracks than those who were more intelligent only or who only marked higher in leadership scores. In fact, those with high Grit Scores were 60% more likely to finish – or finish higher – than others. (Duckworth also used this same research standard in several other areas, summarized here.)
So, if you are not yet “mentally tough” – or need to improve your mental toughness – how do you do it?
The good news is that you CAN become mentally tougher, even if it’s not necessarily easy (essentially, sticking with things that are important to you – even when they are not easy – is a key component to mental toughness).
Truly, that right there is the biggest “secret” to improving or developing mental toughness—consistency and persistence.
Studying, practicing, exercising, etc.—all those things can help you get better at most anything. However, there will come a time in nearly everyone’s life when no amount of practice or preparation can ready you for a challenge or obstacle you will face. And you can bet if you are on the road to greatness, you WILL face challenges or obstacles at some point.
This is when many give up, quit trying, or are derailed totally. After all, it’s in these times that goals begin to be questioned—maybe even start to seem “impossible” or out of reach. It’s also the time that separates the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys or women from girls, and the mentally tough from those who are weaker.
It’s at this point when you must learn to push through—to keep going, despite those setbacks, challenges, or obstacles. You keep trying and keep taking action. You continue taking steps to move forward, even if in small ways. The key is you don’t stop. You don’t stop trying. You don’t give up and you don’t give in…
In a future article, we’ll talk about how to do that, specifically. However, again, the first – and most important – step to practicing or improving mental toughness is just realizing you don’t ever give up. Sure, this may seem easier said than done. But it really is that easy… when the going gets tough, the tough get going. To be or become more mentally tough, YOU KEEP GOING. Get that down and success will be imminent.