It’s the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and American gymnast Kerri Strug takes one of her final vaults in an attempt to win gold for her home country. She runs and she leaps, while a nervous crowd watches in silence. They’re holding back cheers but are on the verge of unleashing as soon as she lands jump.
She runs. She jumps. She flies into the air, off the hurdle and thwack! She lands in a seated position, not gracefully on her feet as was expected, and hoped for.
Strug injures her ankle.
This did not go the way everyone wanted it to go. That includes Strug, who in one moment see years of dreams and late nights training dashed.
The crowd thinks it’s over. Strug knows it’s not. Moments after the injury, she vaults again on a broken ankle. It’s a mind blowing spectacle.
And she wins……………..GOLD!
Krug is the definition of “mental toughness“. It’s a term used commonly by sport psychologists and more recently in the context of business.
In the world of sport it’s defined as a “developed psychological edge that helps athletes deal with the demands, pressures and distractions of their sport”. Basically, mental toughness really is the prerequisite if you want to be one of the few that make it to the National or International level.
In the context of business, it’s much the same. You want to win in business? You want to climb the ranks in your company or field? Then, becoming someone who owns this quality we call “mental toughness” is critical. No wait, it’s key.
But what does “developed psychological edge” really mean? And how do you get it.
What does the term “mental toughness” really mean?
Mental toughness is trained like any other skill. It’s a practice of learning how to ‘one up’ the biological barriers and mechanisms – like fear and the negative habits that don’t serve you. What most people don’t consider is that your body reacts to your environment faster than your conscious mind can catch up. This is why we don’t always behave the way we’d like to (ever laid on the couch and watched tv when you knew you should have been working out at the gym?)
When you learn mental toughness skills, you train your brain to take back control. This gives you the ability to move past any emotions barrier that stop you.
So, in the context of business…
If you’ve ever had a moment where you were afraid to speak in front of a large group or to walk into a meeting or make a cold call, and instead of doing what you wanted in that moment you avoided the situation altogether or flubbed up, that’s where mental toughness skills come into play. When you learn how to think objectively – separating your emotions from your reality – and to communicate with influence, you become a master of your environments at all times.
Leaders and teams that train in mental toughness skills work together with more ease, efficiency, innovation, and joy, and they increase their aptitude for success is all areas. Here’s why…
6 Pillars of Mental Toughness Training – What mental toughness training gets you…
Stay relaxed and non-defensive and maintain humor even in the face of upset or challenge. If you fail in your core objective look for new ways to achieve the results, not just the tried and true. Be creative and imaginative. Look at problems from a new perspective. Innovate. Sometimes impending failure demands new thinking to a difficult problem.
At all times remain engaged when a challenge arises. Do not lose focus and be ready to adapt. Watch for, and react to, challenges and threats. Seek to define new trends and react accordingly. Prepare for all possible scenarios and have a backup plan; And have a backup plan for your backup plan.When the scenario changes suddenly, be willing to innovate in the moment. Stay nimble, aware and focused so that nothing throws you off your game.
All champions, especially in business, demonstrate the ability to counteract any force thrown at them. Exert and resist with equal or greater force when under pressure. Use that power to keep going even when the odds seem against you. Develop an ability and endurance to keep going even when it looks like you may lose. Sometimes the victory is not apparent, but can be had in the last moments of a deal, the fiscal quarter, or the last moments of a business challenge. Bringing all your force and effort can snatch a last minute victory from the jaws of defeat.
COURAGE AND ETHICS
Do the right thing for your team and the integrity of the company. Suppress the impulse to take shortcuts.Do not undermine others in an unsportsmanlike manner, simply to come out on top.Play by the rules as the rules are written, knowing you won through perseverance and effort and creativity and strength, and not because of some technicality. This will make your victories all that much sweeter.
Develop a hardiness so you can endure the bad times, difficult matches and ugly moments. Stay optimistic when dealing with adversity and be ready to adapt when the environment changes for the better or the worse. Resolve to embrace challenges even if they are grueling. Figure how to do more with less. Rally when in a deficit position. Jump on opportunities. Love the game even when the deal, the day, or the fiscal quarter, doesn’t seem to love you. These six markers of mental toughness are important to remember in business, entrepreneurialism and/or your work. They are important skills for all business champions to possess, regardless of industry, role, or experience. They serve interns equally as they do the C-suite. And apply to the smallest business owner to the largest corporate performer.
Keep your game face on and play hard. This is a rollover from performance psychology in sports, but it applies to business equally. Don’t let your competitors know you are suffering or struggling. Take the attacks and offensives with grace, and defend and counter attack with a fierce determination. Be humble and gracious when you lose a battle. Be humble and gracious when you win. Support your colleagues, your reports, and your superiors, and fill in as needed, especially when they stumble or fall. It is difficult to win when teams are fighting among themselves. Be cohesive and indivisible.
Want to know more about mental toughness training and what it can do for your company? Email me and I’ll send you some free training materials so you can experience mental toughness firsthand and see how applying these skills make a massive difference. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org