Improving Your Mental Toughness, Part 3 – Set Your Sights


“Set your sights is all about realising what’s in your control and what’s not. The scoreboard is not in your control. People getting injured is not in your control … The only thing you can ultimately control is your mind … You could get a severe illness and it could take your body; you can be imprisoned in some foreign country; you could lose your legs; there’s so many things that could happen that’s outside of your control … if those things happen, the thing that’s left that can never be taken from you is your mind … [It’s] your ability to respond to things, it’s your ability to make the right decisions.” (Bergeron, 2020, 00:30:42)

We each have a wide range of concerns – our health, our children, problems at work, the national debt, the current pandemic. From this we could separate our concerns into two categories – that which we have no control over, our circle of concern, and that which we do, our circle of influence. Set your sights is directly related to our circle of influence. It’s having a laser-like focus on the things within our control, and completely ignoring everything else.

Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase. Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weaknesses of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink.” (Covey 2004, p. 83)

A practical step we can take is to make two lists – list one is of the things within our control, and list two is of the things outside our control. Examples of things within our control: having a positive attitude, our effort, our focus, how we prepare, the words we use, how we respond to external stimuli, being kind, having no expectations. Examples of things outside our control: the weather, inflation, what other people say, traffic, a client leaving, if someone trusts us.

Preparation and effort

Are you focused on the right things, or are you distracted? Are you giving your full effort to what actually moves the needle, or are you chasing something else?” (Bergeron, 2020, 00:31:47)

Preparation and effort are both within our control and offer enormous value for our time. We often talk about what we believe to be the 5 principles of health: nutrition, sleep, exercise, mindset and relationships. Imagine if we decided to prepare our menu for the next 7 days a week in advance.  We could purchase the groceries in advance; allocate preparation time for each meal; prepare the ingredients that allow in advance; make sure that every meal is balanced, healthy and nutritious by analysing the nutritional values. Imagine how far we could move the needle on our health if we also showed the same level of commitment to preparation and effort in the other 4 principles!


“Did you really have a bad day, or did you have a tough conversation with somebody for three minutes and let that wreck the rest of your day? If that’s the case, you’re focusing on things that are outside your control … What you do control is your response to those people; your response to those events; your response to those circumstances.” (Bergeron, 2020, 00:34:17)

When we allow a moment, a circumstance, a conversation, or an emotion to ruin our day, we relinquish our power to that thing which is ultimately outside of our control. We have the power to choose how we respond. We literally have the power to choose whether we will have a good or bad day. It’s within our control. We urge you to hold onto that power. Protect it with all that you have.


Another strategy we could use is visualisation. “There are things that are going to go wrong … what I learned from Michael Phelps is you have to visualise it going badly, and then you positively [overcoming it]. That’s the trick … [If you’re] Michael Phelps, you have to picture your suit ripping, you have to picture your goggles filling up with water, you have to picture making the turn and coming out in last place, you have to picture your foot slipping coming off the blocks, you have to picture three false starts in a row. Now, when all those things happen, [you have] a plan for that. (Bergeron, 2020, 00:35:45)

We all face challenging situations – some are expected, and some are unexpected. We can prepare for expected situations, for example, a challenging colleague or relative. We know that we’re going to encounter that person again, therefore, we could use this strategy to visualise how we will positively respond to this person.

Thank you for reading this post

We hope that you found it valuable. We hope that you take this information on board and put it to use. Next week, in part 4, we will be diving deeper into “learn your triggers”.

Reference list:

The 6 Steps to Improving Your Mental Toughness (2020) YouTube Video, added by Ben Bergeron [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 21 May 2020]

Covey, S 2004, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Simon & Schuster, Great Britain [Accessed: 21 May 2020]

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