Building Mental Toughness

On October 2, 2016, in The Pass It On Podcast, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman
Listen to an audio version of this message.

What is the single greatest factor that can help you face any challenge and take major steps in the direction of any goal? Mental toughness. But what is it? And how can we integrate it into our daily life?

Former Navy Seal, Mark Divine, writes that mental toughness is a skill set that can be learned. In his book Unbeatable Mind: Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level, Mark breaks it down into four ideas, micro-goals, breathing, positivity, and visualization.[1] Let’s explore each in turn.

Micro-Goals involve compartmentalizing your goals into short time frames, “allowing you to create a series of short-term victories.[2]” This is a corollary to Davis Allen’s Two Minute Rule[3], the concept we introduced on June 8th.
• The simple art of mindful breathing is one of the most under rated tools available to build mental toughness. The practice of Box Breathing is a simple method to harness its power. And all you have to remember is the number “4”. Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 4. Breathe out through your mouth for a count of 4. Hold for a count of 4.
• The elements of positivity are: Courage, Trust, Acceptance and Forgiveness. It may feel like acceptance and forgiveness don’t fit into a definition of toughness, but they are essential to manifesting it.
• And finally, Visualization: Our brains are analogous to the flight simulators pilots use to practice for every possible situation. And visualization is how they are programmed. A.J. LeVan, writing in Psychology Today says, “Brain studies.. reveal that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions.[4]” It possible to program your conscious mind for an outcome, pre-playing future events.

Like every skill, mental toughness can be learned through regular repetition of the habits that manifest it. And it’s well worth the work. Creating a mental toughness mindset will give you the capacity to stay centered when the going gets rough, paraphrasing Kipling, “to keep your head when everybody else is losing theirs.”

This is the place where leaders emerge, breakthroughs occur and excellence lives.

[1] Divine, Mark (2014-01-02). Unbeatable Mind: Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level (p. 139). Mark Divine. Kindle Edition.
[2] Divine, Mark (2014-01-02). Unbeatable Mind: Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level (p. 101). Mark Divine. Kindle Edition.
[3] Clear, James, “How to Stop Procrastinating by Using the ‘Two-Minute Rule’, Posted 5/29/13 – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-clear/stop-procrastinating_b_3342758.html
[4] LeVan, A.J. (2009-12–03) Seeing Is Believing: The Power of Visualization https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/flourish/200912/seeing-is-believing-the-power-visualization

 

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