Building mental fortitude
Mental fortitude, or grit as it’s sometimes called, can be the deciding factor in your success as a leader and how you persevere through challenging times. Looking back at my time in the military, basic training was really about testing and strengthening a soldier’s mental fortitude. You are pushed to the edge physically, mentally and emotionally to see what you can take and to show yourself that you are capable of more than you think.
Success is not all about talent and intelligence. People who show strong mental fortitude usually score better on the ACT/SAT, perform better in their jobs and have a higher salary than those that do not.
Control and Commitment
The first two aspects of building your mental fortitude are Control and Commitment. Control relates to your ability to control your emotions and the sense that you do control how you react to an event or situation.
Tips to strengthen Control
- Work to strengthen your Emotional Intelligence (EP 145 – 148)
- Write out and discuss a plan of action with those impacted. (EP 63, Command Skills)
- Expose yourself to mildly stressful and anxious situations to build up your resilience.
Commitment is your level of focus and reliability. This is your ability to set goals and your accountability level to yourself to see it through.
Tips to strengthen Commitment
- Work on goal-setting skills. Build benchmarks along the way to hit towards the goal.
- Build strong connections with others. You’ll benefit from leaning on these relationships during this time.
- Track your progress in a journal, calendar or other daily/weekly document.
Think of Control and Commitment as the resilience half of the equation of mental fortitude.
Challenge and Confidence
The next two aspects of strengthening mental fortitude are Challenge and Confidence. The challenge shows your drive and ability to adapt to a changing environment.
Tips to grow Challenge
- Focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t or what is out of your control.
- Think of challenges and changes as opportunities instead of threats.
- Remain flexible and be willing to change course as needed to meet your ultimate goal.
Confidence is the belief in yourself that you can weather the storm successfully navigate through the event or situation.
Tips to grow Confidence
- Focus on the positive and celebrate small wins along the way.
- Accept the change as part of living life and focus on the next chapter.
- Take care of yourself both mentally and physically. Do some type of physical activity, sleep well and eat as clean as you can.
Drop the barrier to grit
In my experience, the biggest obstacle to mental fortitude is the habit of feeling sorry for yourself. Think about what thoughts go through your mind as you occupy this space.
“I can’t believe this happening to me.” – Focuses on yourself and not your ability to react.
“I don’t deserve this.” – A sense that events happen to you and you have no control over them.
“I can’t do this.” – A confidence destroyer and self-fulfilling prophecy.
When you feel yourself slipping into this line of thought, refocus yourself on the mission of getting through the problem or the circumstance. Think through the factual aspect of the scenario and the tactical approach that you need to take to get through it. Doing these things keeps your mind out of those bad spaces.
Believe in yourself. You are far more capable of getting through tough times than you likely give yourself credit for. You are in control. Put a plan in place and have confidently had the drive to pull yourself through. I believe that you can do it.
Make a better tomorrow.