THE ONE CHARACTERISTIC THAT ALL WINNERS SHARE

Mental Toughness:  Relentless Optimism Rooted in Faith

 

Let me tell you a funny story and then a real one to illustrate what relentless optimism looks like.

 

There is the story of the little boy who was practicing his baseball skills.  He was throwing a baseball into the air and then attempting to hit it with a bat.  As he tossed the ball up, he was heard to say, “I’m the greatest hitter ever to play baseball!”  Unfortunately, he missed the first toss. He threw the ball again and repeated the phrase, “I’m the greatest hitter ever to play baseball!”  He missed again.  On the third try, he repeated his positive statement about his ability to hit, but he once again hit nothing, but air.   He stood there quietly for a moment and as he tossed the ball into the air, he was heard to say, “I’m the greatest pitcher in baseball!”

That story gives you a snapshot of relentless optimism.   The challenges of life are many and few people find success on their first swing.  You have to be able to keep on swinging, or if necessary, to be able to switch your efforts in a new direction without any loss of optimism.

Here’s my real story.  In the early days of my career when I was still struggling with the basics, I had devastating failure.  It was demoralizing and embarrassing and I was immersed in negative thoughts.  The enemy crawled on my shoulder and informed me that I should quit.  He asserted that I would never master the requirements to succeed in changing lives.  I was so frustrated and angry at myself that I almost took his advice. But, I can remember shaking my fist at the sky and with tears in my eyes I said, “I refuse to quit! I may never succeed, but I will not quit!”   Forty years later and having impacted thousands of lives through God’s help and power, I am glad I didn’t quit.  What enabled me to maintain mental toughness?  Optimism rooted in my faith.

Optimism (when it’s rooted in faith) contains several key components:

  • A realistic confidence about your talents and skills and how you can put them into play
  • A world view that sees abundance as opposed to scarcity.
  • A belief that God has a “soft spot” for those who just refuse to quit.

I want to encourage you to keep on building your mental toughness. Wherever you are at today, it’s not your final destination.  You can become the man or woman you dream of being and hundreds of lives will be impacted by your determination to relentless optimism.

When were you tempted to quit?  Make a comment below.  I’d love to hear your story.  Also, be sure and subscribe to this blog.  Next month, we will examine the fourth attribute of the mentally toughness, “the refusal to define yourself by the opinion of others.”

 

 

Stop Doing This Now and Start Moving Ahead

Mental Toughness Attribute #2

Refusal to dwell on past failures\regrets

I’ve had some monumental failures in my life. Some are humorous, and some make me weep.
I once asked a woman, whose name I was having trouble remembering, how her mother was doing? She looked at me with a shocked expression and replied, “Well, you performed her funeral service.” Ooops. I felt terrible, how do you recover after that?

Mentally tough people don’t sabotage their present life by getting caught up in reviewing past failures and regrets.

We all have failures in our lives. They range from the trivial, such as social blunders, to life altering mistakes in judgement.

Let me list a few failures:

Social errors:
• Public clothing mishaps
• Falling down on a busy sidewalk
• Getting people’s names drastically wrong
Leadership snafus:
• Making public promises that you fail to deliver on
• Unwise acquisitions for your business
• Hiring someone you later have to fire
Life changing failures:
• Bankruptcy
• Divorce
• Getting arrested

Everyone has something in their lives they regret, but tough-minded people push past those negative memories and move ahead. How do they keep their spirits positive after messing up?
• They accept that they are only human, and that mistakes and blunders are part of everyone’s life.
• They realize the foolishness of wasting the opportunities for a productive future on the lamenting of an irreversible past.
• They have a vision or dream that compels them to get back in the race no matter how devastating their failure.

I knew a Pastor who was helping his church to clear a downtown property for an expansion of their auditorium. When he was asked by the demolition company which building they were supposed to tear down, he pointed to the wrong building. The blunder cost his church thousands of dollars as they had to rebuild the partially demolished structure. He did not quit, but kept on serving his people and his church continued to grow and impact their community. He was mentally tough.

Make up your mind that the past is gone, and you will let the failures contained in it die. Extract any lessons for improvement from your failure that you can, and then put it behind you, and move on.

Success is difficult. Only those who can muster the continued energy to overcome obstacles obtain it. That’s why you need to be mentally tough, and mentally tough people refuse to let past failures and regrets steal their energy for life. Learn from the past, but live in today, and keep dreaming for your future.

Leave me a comment about how you have overcome regret and failure in your life.  I’d love to hear your story.

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.

 

The One Attribute That Will Double Your Success

Mental Toughness

 

If you can keep your head when all about you   

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;   

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: Rudyard Kipling

 Rudyard Kipling

What separates the world class performers from the merely successful?

Mental toughness: the ability to withstand stress and control your mind.

Are you cool under pressure?

A minister I know was praised for how he led his church .  “He might be up to his knees in the fires of controversy and criticism, but you’d never know it when you heard him preach, he was cool as a cucumber no matter the pressure he was under.”  That’s mental toughness.

Are you cool under pressure?

Mental toughness is more important than talent or education. The real battlefield for success is in the mind.  Talent cannot save you if you cave under pressure.  Education will provide information of what to do in a crisis, but it cannot save you if you fold in stressful situations.  One of the arenas where you see this truth played out is professional golf.  You may not like the sport, but take some time to watch it carefully, and you’ll see mental toughness displayed in every tournament.  The pressure of having to summon up a relaxed and graceful putt on the final hole of a championship, with hundreds of thousands of dollars riding on the stroke, is determined more by the mental toughness of the player than by his hours of practice and natural skill.  Watching a player, who has just had a disastrous hole that put him behind in the score, put the bad strokes out of his mind and perform at championship level on the next hole, is a primer for mental toughness.

Examples of mentally tough people:

  • Winston Churchill withstanding the pressures of the near disasters of the early part of the World War II
  • American prisoners of war surviving years of abuse and imprisonment in Vietnam
  • American gymnast Kerri Strug working through the pain of an ankle injury to help her team win a gold medal in the 1996  Olympics 

What does it take to grow mental toughness in your life?

Over the next several blogs I’m going to examine five attributes of the mentally tough and give you tips for strengthening each one in your life.

Here are the attributes we’ll be studying:

  • Rigorous commitment to reality
  • Refusal to dwell on past failures\regrets
  • Relentless optimism rooted in faith
  • Refusal to define self by the opinion of others
  • Regular review of past successes

This will be a series of blogs that can take you to “next level”  success in your life.

How have you developed mental toughness in your life?  I’d love to hear your stories.  Please leave a comment and if you haven’t subscribed to my blog yet, please do so.