The One Thing All Successful People Do

A Rigorous Commitment to Reality

“It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”– Carl Sagan

The first key to mental toughness is to commit to facing the reality of every situation of life without flinching.

Have you ever tried to hide from reality?  Have you ever refused to open a bill that came in the mail, because you were afraid to see how much your debt had grown?  Have you ever refused to see your physician, because you were afraid to know what that pain in your stomach might really be?  Have you ever pretended not to notice the distance between you and your mate, because you were afraid to hear an honest answer to the question, “What’s wrong with you?”

Mental toughness demands that you face the truth.  One of the greatest questions you can ask yourself is, “What am I pretending not to know.”   It is staggering to think of how some of the most powerful leaders in some of the highest organizations, pretend not to know certain hard truths.

Mentally tough people have a rigorous commitment to reality.   They don’t ignore problems and hope they will somehow magically disappear on their own.  Mentally tough leaders encourage their subornates to tell them the honest truth about every situation, even if it is unpleasant or discouraging.

How hard is it to make the commitment to reality?

  • It could be as simple as deciding to pay attention to an uncomfortable, nagging feeling.
  • It could be as easy as not looking the other direction when you see something disturbing.
  • It might be as difficult as asking someone for the complete truth when you sense they are holding back.
  • It might be as demanding as setting up a meeting with a disgruntled client.
  • It might be asking yourself, “What am I pretending not to know?” 

First of all, reality isn’t the way you wish things to be, or the way they appear to be, but the way the actually are.   Secondly, the theory states that you either acknowledge reality and use it to your benefit or it will automatically work against you.”  Robert Ringer “Winning through Intimidation.”

In my next blog, I will examine the second attribute of mentally tough people; the refusal to dwell on past regrets or failures.





I went zip lining in Costa Rica last week. I thought I was going to have to “wimp out” as I flew out into space on the first of 7 consecutive zip lines.  I am not afraid of heights and I’ve zip lined before, but never at such heights and speeds.  I didn’t want to go on, but I was with my church group and I refused to let them see me “chicken out.”

Flying hundreds of feet over the jungle canopy while supported only by a skimpy seat harness and a well-worn cable, I began to doubt my rationality.  What kind of crazy man risks his life like this I wondered? No, that’s not quite right.  What I really thought was, “Dear God what have I just done, please don’t let me die.” I was three zip lines into the experience before I began to relax and enjoy the amazing view and the thrill of speeding down the line. Once I got over my initial terror my senses were almost overwhelmed with the beauty below me and the fun of getting as close to personal flight as I have ever been.

Are you going through a terrifying time? Remember you are not alone. Starting a new business, career, or relationship can be scary. But often you’ll find that what waits on the other side of your fear will be one of the greatest experiences of your life.

What did I learn while terrified?
• Once you relax it gets good
• Beauty is available even when you are terrified
• Trust in those who have gone before you
• Use your peer group to propel you past fear
• Don’t miss the experience of a lifetime out of fear

When was the last time you were afraid? What lessons did you learn? Please leave a comment. I’d love to read your insights.