In this post we’re going to preview our upcoming series – Improving Your Mental Toughness. It will be made up of 6 parts, in which we’re going to address various factors that we believe are essential to developing mental toughness. A very well-known quote comes to mind, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” This series is all about developing ourselves into the type of people who can weather any storm. We are the type of people who understand that we cannot control what happens to us, but we can control our response.
Completing an ironman triathlon is an extremely difficult thing to do. We might see an athlete struggle and give everything they’ve got to get over the finish line and think that they’re mentally tough, but that is in fact physical toughness.
When we talk about mental toughness, we’re talking about not allowing ourselves to be distracted by anything.
“Mental toughness is this zen-like [state]. No matter what somebody does to you, you can’t be flustered. You don’t get frustrated. You don’t get thrown off your game. It doesn’t matter if you’re down by 20 points, it doesn’t matter if you’ve experienced 3 failures in a row, it doesn’t matter if we ask you to do this undaunting task … no matter what happens, you can’t be thrown off your game. That is mental toughness” – Ben Bergeron
We all have goals, and the daily actions we take should move us toward those goals. However, we are constantly faced with the threat of distraction by external stimuli.
There isn’t much difference in the skill and ability of top professional golfers – what separates them is their mental toughness. For example, imagine they were playing in the Ryder Cup, and it all came down to the final hole. If they win it, they win the Ryder Cup! That’s a huge amount of pressure. They could think about the millions of people watching; making a mistake; the consequences of losing, but those are all distractions. Being able to block all that out, to not feel the pressure, to follow the process for each swing as if it were just another hole, takes an enormous amount of mental toughness.
A boxer that gets punched and falls to the floor 7 times but stands up 8 and continues to fight is not mentally tough, they simply have a high tolerance of pain.
The biggest thing we want to highlight as we address each of the 6 steps is that it’s not about the tools, the tactics, or the tricks, it’s about awareness.
Below are the 6 steps that we believe if followed, will lead to mental toughness:
1. Becoming a learner
2. Expect Adversity
3. Set your sights
4. Learn your triggers
5. Kill the critic
6. Seek out practice
Each step builds on the next, and it’s important that we understand the principles to becoming mentally tough. The final step, ‘seek out practice’, is what most people tend to focus on. Running a 100-mile race is the practice part, but the 5 steps that precede the practice are the principles that will ultimately determine whether we truly develop mental toughness or not.
Thank you for reading this post
We hope you are as excited as we are for the journey over the 6 weeks! Next week we will be diving deeper into step 1 – becoming a learner.