MENTAL toughness

The researchers Peter Clough and Doug Strycharczyk in their book, “Developing Mental Toughness,” define mental toughness as “The quality which determines in large part how people deal effectively with challenges, stressors, and pressure….irrespective of prevailing circumstances.”. They also describe it as a personality trait which has 4 components :

  1. Challenge: Viewing challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles.
  2. Control: Believing that you are in control of your life and destiny.
  3. Commitment: Having the ability to stick to tasks and see them through to completion.
  4. Confidence: Possessing strong self-belief in your ability to succeed.

The above traits may be applied to many areas of our lives be it our education, jobs, sports and even personal relationships. All these qualities require mental strength and toughness and so it is no coincidence that these qualities are possessed by successful people.

It is mental toughness which divides the excellent from the good. As the key to mental toughness is being consistent and applying the traits of self-motivation, possessing a positive attitude and self control as well as being energetic and ready to accept challenges. Those people who apply these traits will be successful in all their endeavours be it writing a computer program, playing a sport or musical instrument or writing a book.

A person can become mentally stronger and with it more successful by :

  • BEING SELF MOTIVATED – Motivation must come from within a person. The strength and intensity of your drive to perform, is determined by your own level of seriousness to perform well.  The inherent motivation to achieve comes from within an individual and it is these internal forces which drive a person to do better, be stronger and push themselves harder to see how far they can go. Those people who are mentally tough do not think of possible rewards but instead they perceive the involvement and participation in overcoming challenges as a reward in themselves.
  • REBOUNDING FROM SETBACKS – Life is not always positive and successful. So pick yourself up and be ready to bounce back from any setbacks with a new sense of determination. Never be discouraged by any failures or setbacks, instead focus on lessons learned and build a resolve to accept any challenges and concentrate on achieving your goals.  A person grows mentally strong after going through tough and maybe negative experiences. Instead of becoming discouraged and dejected, build a resolve to accept the challenge and focus on achieving your goals.
  • BELIEVING IN YOUR ABILITIES – The major contributor to being successful is self belief. Studies show that the top factor which contributes towards high performance and career success is an unshakable self belief. Those people who possess mental toughness know that they can succeed. Whatever you may be trying to do, be it excelling in sports, losing weight, excelling in your job etc. believing in your ability to succeed is essential to meeting your goals. Stay positive, be self encouraging and focus all your energy on staying optimistic and success will be yours.
  • MAINTAINING FOCUS AND CONTROL – No one has the support and perfect scenario to pursue their goals. Many things are happening at the same time and they all compete for our time and attention. In order to be successful we need to maintain our sense of direction and prioritize our goals. If we feel that we are going off track, reassess and come back to the path we need to follow. Learn to control your thoughts and actions as these are a key component to being mentally tough. Focus on your internal locus of control and believe that you can play an active role in creating your own victories.
  • BEING SELF-DIRECTED – Defining and working towards goals is one of the best ways to reach highest levels of achievement. People who are mentally tough, know what they want to achieve in life, define it in terms of goals and then work towards achieving them, thereby creating the life that they want. It is important to realize that a lot of work has to be put in, which may involve taking small steps every day even if you may feel that the goals are not possible. Self directed efforts help you to define and work towards achievement of the goals.
  • UNDERSTANDING THAT THERE ARE UPS AND DOWNS – We all go through life in good and bad times as life is not always filled by sunshine and roses. So being able to face the good and the bad helps create as well as cultivate a sense of mental toughness in us. It is by having faith in our abilities to accept, adapt and overcome these adversities that help us to survive and come out successful. It is only when one goes through adversity and faces competition that one stands up, accepts challenges and truly knows what they are capable of doing. 
  • STICKING WITH IT – Developing a level of commitment is a major contributor to achieving success. It is those people who are able to push themselves the extra mile who achieve success. The mentally tough are dedicated and focused to accomplish their tasks and even if the going gets hard they stick with it, till done. If you stick with your commitments you learn valuable lessons and experience which help you succeed in the future. You get to know your strengths and also identify areas where you need to improve.

Being mentally tough does have an inherited factor but research has proved that it can also be learned and developed. It can be acquired by making it a daily habit and thereby using it to go through difficult times and achieve our ambitions. We can ask for support and help as well as guidance from friends, team mates and colleagues if required. But with this support it is up to us to work harder and reach our full potential.

AS said by Winston Churchill “ Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”.

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