For the past few months I have been specially interested on learning more and improving my ability to focus and follow-through. Something I have had for a long time is that I have the ability to come up with tons of ideas. So what typically would happen is that … I get a “great” idea, I start to research, plan how to implement it, get it ready, do some more planning … and … then I get another “great” idea and I also start doing research and planning and … well, you can imagine what happens. Now multiply that many times over. So as a result I would get five or six “great” ideas floating in limbo but none of them actually moving forward. Can you relate to this?
Couple of months ago I read Scott Belsky’s outstanding book Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality (Amazon affiliate link) and it gave me a lot of insights and ideas on how to … well, make ideas happen.
The thing is, I am a very well organized person! I plan my week every Sunday evening; I plan my day the night before … I have a clear plan of the main goals and actions I must get done each day …. so how come I kept falling on the same trap?
I decided to dig deep and identify the reasons why this happened. And among other things I realized that there is one key factor which sums it all up. I am talking about mental toughness or what I consider to be the ability to keep going and remain fully focused on the task at hand in the face of specific distractions.
The concept is usually connected to the world of Sports Psychology. Legendary examples of incredibly mentally tough athletes are Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong among many others. However, I believe that this is not only applicable for athletes or special forces soldiers.
My point is: You need to be mentally tough. Period
At the office, at home, while working on your projects. Everywhere. I do not care how big or small your projects are. Maybe you are starting a diet or a workout program, maybe you are working on a new proposal for a client, maybe you are just cleaning your bedroom. It doesn’t matter, you need to develop your mental toughness if you want to accomplish something remarkable.
But … what exactly is mental toughness? Well, I found many definitions out there, however here you have two that sum-up the topic quite nicely:
1. On his Level III Hockey Coaching Course, Dr. Smt. Jolly Ray a Scientific Officer at the Sports Authority of India, explains mental toughness as:
The ability to consistently sustain one’s ideal performance state during adversities in competition. Performing to one’s potential requires good technique and mental skills. Ups and downs in performance are often directly traceable to psychological ups and downs. Players who create a special atmosphere within them perform consistently. Mental toughness is learnt, not inherited. The ultimate measure of mental toughness is consistency.
2. Dr. Steve Harris defines mental toughness as:
The ability to operate at your highest potential, consistently, despite your circumstances. It applies equally to sport, work, school, relationships and family.
Check out this presentation in which Dr. Harris explains in more detail his ideas on mental toughness. Enjoy!
NOTE: For a more detailed introduction to the subject I recommend you to check out his article: Mental Toughness: A Competitive Advantage
So, one thing I can strongly recommend you is to get interested on this subject and dig deeper into developing your mental toughness capabilities. This is a process that you need to apply to everything you do. I mean, I have started the journey long time ago back when I was an amateur soccer player or more recently when I was a Flying Trapeze artist. The breakthrough is that now I am applying this to my development, not only as an entrepreneur and businessman, but also as a father, husband and friend. And although I know it will not happen overnight, I know that I am on the right track, and I certainly wish you will join me.
Photo credit: Felix Dieu