Mental toughness is talked about in many aspects of life. It could either be through fitness, school, working, or just trying to get through the day. Regardless of what it is that you are up against there is certain fight or flight responses that a person has. Your mental toughness will determine if you are ready to fight or take a flight. My experience in the SEAL teams has taught me that there are 6 main attributes that a person has to cultivate. Cultivating these attributes will ensure your mental toughness is on point to accomplish any task.
Starting from 6:
6) Have a Mantra:
Not really an attribute but it will help cultivate your necessary attributes. Mantra is Sanskrit for mind protection. I remember throughout my career as a Navy SEAL having a mantra of, “you know what to do”. This may not fall into the literal meaning of a mantra but it protected my mind during the toughest situations of my life. I would repeat this again and again during demanding or questionable events. What it did was keep the highest belief in myself, keep my mind active which inevitably helped me find a way. This can serve as a foundational piece for every other aspect of your life, there will be times when you have no idea what to do. But if you assure yourself that you know what to do, your mind will not let you down.
5) Stay Motivated:
This seems obvious, but for most people, this is the hardest part of the whole process. Motivation is another big key to mental toughness, without it, you will not be able to move forward. What motivation does for a person is keep them going when they lose sight or can’t see the next move. You may have been progressing rapidly but now come to an abrupt stop with no answers. These are called tests, so often in life, we have various sized tests that make us think about our decisions. Open up to these tests you may find out something you never knew about yourself or meet someone that will take you to the next level. Motivation will keep you coming back for more and ensure you find what you are looking for. I would never have made it through BUD/s without motivation. The motivation of knowing that BUD/s was a doorway to a bigger purpose made the difficult tasks seem not so difficult.
4) Surround Yourself With Like Minded People:
This can be the hardest part of the whole process, but it is one of the most important. The person you are striving to be has no time to deal with negative people. If you are unsure what I mean by negative evaluate your friends, do they support you? What is the first thing that comes out of their mouth when you tell them your plans? If you tell your friend I’m thinking of starting a business and they say, “That’s too hard” or “Most businesses fail in the first two years”, dump them. If they ask you why you dumped them, tell them straight up and be honest about your feelings toward them. This will do two things for you, it will ensure they understand your drive and passion and give you confidence to move forward. You have no time for negativity; your plans are way beyond what they believe is possible. If you are not willing to cutoff or shut down people that try to shut you down, then we need to work on your confidence. The SEAL team was a place of like-minded people; coming together and getting things done. We also drove each other to achieve great things, and to never settle. Having had this experience with my fellow brothers taught me the importance of surrounding yourself with like-minded people. It may be lonely initially but finding the right people to surround yourself with is an important foundation piece you cannot live without.
3) Keep Your Focus:
Focus ties into everything that has been said before, it is essential. When you are busy accomplishing tasks there are times when things will come up. These things can be partying, recreational activities, watching TV, or just surfing the web. These are all distractions, now don’t get me wrong it is important to let loose and blow off steam. But when these actions consume you or you lose focus of what is important, then these activities are destructive. During my life I have let some of these activities become distractions. Partying for a bit was a crux of mine, I wanted to go out have fun and be seen as a person you could party with, “The Cool Guy”. After a couple years of partying, getting in fights, getting in trouble, being arrested a couple times it finally dawned on me that there was something more important. I had to regain my focus and start to progress on the path I was meant to live. It can be hard to pull yourself out of the trenches of distraction and it may take a couple knocks to the head. But take what you have learned from those situations and put them towards your future. Think of it like this, you have been through the distraction you know what you want and don’t want so move on and focus your energy.
Improvisation is your ability to take a broken situation and fix it. You do not have to be a master improviser and in fact it is important to continuously cultivate this skill. When you are going through your processes and your plan has suddenly changed, it is important to be open to other possibilities. You have to stay positive remember everything you have read up to this point will help you improvise and accomplish. You can do this!! Find another way through the problem. Plans are initial ideas of how you would like it to go, you can plan for days, months, or years and still have problems. You never know what environmental factors on any particular day are going to affect you. Let me assure you as a team member and leader in Navy SEAL platoons, we still ran into unforeseen obstacles. Those obstacles had to be dealt with; we had to improvise so we could continue forward. Through these experiences I grew as a leader and as a person. You learn a lot and find your true strengths from these experiences, cultivate this skill and nothing can hinder you.
1) Have A Sense Of Humor:
This is by far the most valuable tool I had in my mental toughness arsenal. To laugh at your mistakes or find the silver lining in a bad situation is essential in keeping your motivation and focus razor sharp. There were many times I was cold, wet, and tired wanting to go to a nice warm room and relax. So I would make a joke about it, “wouldn’t it be nice to be in your room right now” I would say this to my teammate. It would at least put a smile on our faces and keep us going. Other times when I was tasked with extreme amounts of work, I would joke about my situation with others. Having humor helped me through some of the toughest test’s this world has to offer. You can always recall the humorous events during tough tests to bring a smile to your face. In addition having a sense of humor will help you be happier and clear up any doubts you have. The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. ~Mark Twain.
These are skills that carried me through training, battle, and are carrying me forward in my life today. It is important you understand your abilities and cultivate your mental toughness to get through any situation. You may want to think of these 6 steps differently so they fit your life better, that is absolutely okay. But it is important you take the first step towards Mental Toughness. Remember, without the mind you have nothing.
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