It’s what gets you up in the morning to go to work every day…or look for a job. It’s what you call on to get you back on the wagon after a fall. It’s what you use when you’ve screwed the pooch and need to face the people you’ve let down.
“Knocked down seven times? Get up eight!” That’s mental toughness- or in Black Belt Mindset parlance: Perseverance.
Perseverance and mental toughness can be elusive…at least that’s what people say when they tell me they haven’t got it.
First of all, you are born with every one of these characteristics of Black Belt Mindset. They’re natural. Of course, so is a tomato!
What has a tomato got to do with mental toughness?
Because even though you’re born with it, you’ve got to cultivate it. A tomato plant needs constant attention to produce those plump, juicy tomatoes you enjoy so much. Your mind needs the same attention…even more.
You were born with mental toughness- the capacity for perseverance. Human beings are tremendously resilient creatures; but you’ve got to cultivate that ability or it will wither and will never bear fruit.
You’ve got to practice. Just like you water that tomato plant, you’ve got to find ways to water your mental capacity for perseverance and mental toughness. You do this by exposing yourself to increasing challenges and at times, by adjusting your expectations.
That’s right- sometimes you’ve got to lower the bar. I remember being hit so hard in a fight that I was leaning on the ropes in the corner and I couldn’t pick my hands up. I could see my opponent and I could see the punches coming- but I couldn’t make my arms work. I couldn’t get my hands up to cover.
In that moment- my expectation wasn’t to win the fight. It was to survive this beating!
Doesn’t that happen in real life too? Haven’t you ever felt that way in life? In business?
Sometimes you’ve just got to survive and count that as a victory. Sometimes you’ve just got to hang in there until your arms start working again!
As for the practice part- that comes after you’ve weathered the beating. Now it’s time to adjust and identify some small steps that will help you prepare for the next fight.
How did you end up in that corner to begin with? Did you make a mistake? Were you taken by surprise? Did you train hard enough?
Sometimes you didn’t do anything wrong!
Either way, a little forgiveness goes a long way. Forgive yourself for the loss. Forgive yourself for any mistakes you made. Acknowledge that you were up against a tougher opponent. You might also recognize that this loss is one step in becoming a better fighter…as long as you hang in there.
Any given moment- or any fight, win or lose, is just one step on the way to becoming a better you. Remember that even when you lose, you had the balls to step in the ring in the first place. Some people can’t say that.
“Perfection is not a destination; it’s a never-ending process.”
You hear that a lot around here! People with mental toughness embrace perfection as a process. Turn it from a noun into a verb. Perfection isn’t where you’re going, it’s what you’re doing.
With that attitude, you simply take one more step forward. Every moment you invest making yourself better- of practice and learning and training- is, in and of itself, a moment of perfection.
People always ask me how I managed to keep going as I quit drugs and later as I became a Black Belt. How did I survive poverty and business failure and heartbreak and keep on keeping on?
Because I learned that I’m not unique. I learned that setbacks are an inevitable part of any experience. I learned that everyone faces challenges, but that I could only survive if I chose to embrace those challenges rather than running away from them.
Mental toughness isn’t some unique quality that only the best and brightest are blessed with. You have the capacity for amazing perseverance, resilience and mental toughness.
You’ve just got to practice.
On the other hand…
Remember that quitting is always an option- and it’s the only one that guarantees a predictable result. Stay in the fight and everything is at risk. Quit and you know what will happen…nothing.
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