You know what I found really inspirational?
That the military elite (SAS, Navy Seals) and Olympic athletes build mental toughness in very similar ways. Of course, what they do is very different – one is required to operate at peak levels in the deadliest of situations whilst the other has to deal with the pressure of competition when then the whole world is watching. However, their approaches to be the best they can be are similar.
The good news for you and I is that the techniques they use are not out of our reach. In fact, in order to be successful in business, we should try, no, we need to develop these skills ourselves.
Mental toughness is a state of mind. It’s about resilience. It’s about being goal orientated, always trying to improve, being dependable and consistent. It’s about working for small victories and being driven by a dedication to self as well as a higher cause.
Mentally tough people do not quit.
My work with clients is not simply business focussed. Much of it is about helping them develop their own mental toughness so they can effectively deal with the pressures of entrepreneurship, leadership, risk assessment, decision making, overcoming obstacles, meeting commitments and living a fulfilled life.
So here are my 4 pillars for building your mental toughness:
- Daily Rituals
Rituals are things that you do proactively – you have to make a decision to undergo a ritual (compare this to habits which are things that you just do). It’s the daily rituals that make mental strength or toughness happen. Here are some examples:
- Talk positively to yourself – your brain believes what you tell it. That’s why it is so important to put good ‘stuff’ in. The focus should be on the positive outcome; the motivation should be not to quit.
- Review your goals every day. Read them out aloud. Your, daily, weekly, monthly and longer goals – keep telling yourself what they are. Set your mind on them. A strong mind will find ways to overcome the obstacles along the way.
- Plan tomorrow before today ends – at the end of every day I make a list of what I’ve got to do tomorrow. I write it down. I put ‘£’ signs next to the ones that will improve my cash flow and the next morning I do these first thing. This makes me mentally strong.
- Every day I spend quiet time with myself – some people call it meditation. I simply find a quiet space and reflect on what it is I want to achieve, what I need to do, my purpose and my affirmations.
- Set clear goals and practice visualisation
I’m sure you hear this a lot. But how many of you actually do both? Properly?
Get in the habit of setting goals. Long-term, medium-term and short-term so that you can focus on one thing at a time. Make sure they are connected to your ethos and aligned with your purpose. Whatever they are, write them down and track progress – nothing builds mental toughness like seeing progress.
Visualise your goals, in great detail.
Every SAS soldier, SEAL, Olympic athlete, Spartan, Samurai and world class Executive has mastered visualisation to super-charge their results.
Build a vision board, generate mental movies of your goals, visualise the environment you will face and how you will deal with it. Having visual goals gives you direction and purpose. Achieving them builds confidence, self-worth and self-belief.
- Take Action
We all have ideas. And so do all our competitors. So what? You’ve got to act on your ideas. If you don’t act, all the goal-setting effort will have been for nothing and your ideas won’t stay strong. This wears you down and erodes your mental strength. Even if the actions you take don’t get the results you want, at least you will be heading in the right direction. So make sure you act on your thoughts, learnings, ideas and discussions.
- Talk to people
Mentally weak people are the ones that try to do it all themselves. So make sure you have someone to talk to, to run decisions by, to ask for help from, to get advice or just to offload onto. Make sure you get yourself a coach, mentor, best friend, networking group etc. If you don’t you’re going to find it mentally tough.
And remember, the rule is ”Train Hard, Fight Easy”. So practice these 4 skills daily and you’ll develop the mental toughness of an Olympic athlete and elite warrior.