To hone many of the skills or traits necessary to succeed as an entrepreneur or business leader, the path is somewhat predictable. You enroll in a class, read books or seek a mentor. You attend the right college for accounting to teach you the skills to land a job at the right firm. Or you register for a toastmaster class, developing ease and comfort with public speaking.
If you study diligently, after time, you will show marked improvement. There are, however, some skills or traits required for success that aren't as easily obtained including patience, perseverance -- or mental toughness.
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When considering a candidate for a leadership role, you must be able to check off the box by mental toughness. Leaders face tests daily and will fail regularly. Only the mentally strong are able to bounce back, learn and grow from the challenges they encounter.
Is mental toughness a trait you're born with or a skill that can be learned? I believe it's the latter. Here are four ways to bolster your mental toughness.
1. Focus on what motivates you.
To be mentally tough means to be absolutely focused. We are most susceptible to a lack of resolve when we aren't clearly focused -- or are focusing on the wrong things. It's relatively easy to be mentally tough when things are going right, but when they aren't, the mentally tough focus on what matters most to them.
Defining what you want and revisiting your vision frequently will help you keep the inner fire lit. This will get you past even the toughest times. In other words, focus on what you want -- not what you don't want.
2. Ignore the haters.
There are numerous factors that contribute to mental toughness. Most of them are related to your thinking style and how you process your surroundings. Sometimes, outside influences can have a negative impact. While the cheerleaders in our lives can help propel us in a positive direction, it's the naysayers that drain our mental reserves.
The mentally strong realize that when someone says you cannot do something or doubts your abilities, it's more about their insecurities than about you. Mentally strong individuals don't dwell on or let a negative critique slow them down. They immediately fix on finding solutions and moving towards their goals.
3. Redefine success. Make a pact with yourself to make maximum effort your inner target.
The interesting thing about effort is that you -- and only you -- know when you've given it your all. Accordingly, only you can hold yourself truly accountable. One way to boost your mental toughness level is to up your personal standard for success to 100 percent maximum effort on personally critical tasks. By challenging yourself to have higher standards and to internally monitor your progress, a rise in mental toughness is sure to follow.
4. Take care of your mind and body.
A famous quote attributed to Vince Lombardi is, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." This makes sense. We are most susceptible to giving into our fears when, physically, we are at less-than our best.
As a leader, there's always extra work waiting to be done, but the best leaders realize burning the candle on both ends will only result in a crash a day or two later. Be smart, and rest properly. This will ensure you have plenty of mental strength in reserve for when you'll need it.
Another way to take care of your body is to get a healthy amount of exercise. Consult your physician and a personal trainer on what program works best for you. When you are taking care of your physical health, it's amazing how it can impact your emotional health as well.
Much of pushing yourself physically requires mental strength. Deciding whether to run one more lap or to lift one more rep has as much to do with your mental resolve as it does with physical exertion.
Increasing your mental toughness isn't the easiest goal to achieve. It will be both a challenge and a test in every way. However, the results will prepare you for any obstacles you may face down the road. And that is worth its weight in gold.