With all things being equal, the mentally tough will win every time.
Almost any athletic team or organization in the world performs extremely difficult and physically demanding exercises that have little to do with a specific sport. For example, many teams now are buying large tractor tires and having athletes flip them over. I do not know of a sport (besides World’s Strongest Man) that ever does anything like flipping tires in competition. But if you ask the coach or trainer why he/she has the athletes perform these tasks that appear to have very little to do with their specific sport, they will most likely tell you that it is to make the athletes mentally tough.
So is mental toughness simply not giving up when our body is exhausted? That sort of makes sense. But if that was the case all a person would have to do to become mentally stronger than another is by doing more physically demanding acts than the other. That sounds more like a physical task, not a mental one. Perseverance when we want to give up is a part of being mentally tough, but that is not what mental toughness really is.
What really is mental toughness?
When it comes down to it, mental toughness is about acquiring skills.
All skills originate in the mind. Even physical skills like throwing a football are developed in the mind through repetition. We call this mental process Muscle Memory. The actual memory is not stored in our muscles but rather a part of our brain that controls our movements. Every skill we develop comes from the mind.
So, where does toughness fit in?
When we are developing skills, practice does not make perfect. The truth is, practice makes permanent. That means that everything we do, good or bad, is reinforced and we become more likely to repeat whatever we did more easily in the future. It requires mental effort and toughness to practice the right way. Learning from our strengths is one example. Another example is learning from our good practices rather than the bad ones. The more mentally tough we are the quicker we acquire skills.
How do we become mentally tough?
We become mentally tough when we learn good mental practices like having a can-do mindset, controlling the controllable, or having an approach mentality. To be truly mentally tough we need coaching.
Why we call ourselves Mental Strength Coaches here at The Fearless Mind
Sport specific coaches teach and give feedback on sport specific skills. Strength coaches teach and give feedback to help individuals become physically stronger and more fit. Mental strength coaches teach important mental skills to help individuals better develop physical skills. They also give feedback to strengthen athletes’ minds so that they can acquire more skills quicker.
Now I want to come back to the idea that mental toughness is not giving up when our body wants to. An important mental skill and key to mental toughness is “focusing on the present” and refers to focusing our mind on what is happening in the current moment. When we perform an extremely difficult physical task that exhausts our bodies our mind naturally drifts to the future. When our mind drifts to the future we imagine that continuing the task will only cause more pain and giving up will give us relief. This is why we want to give up when things are hard. If our mind is tough and we have the mental skill of focusing on the present we wont want to give up. Why? Because the idea of giving up does not have room in our conscious mind. We are fearless.
Mental toughness is all about developing crucial skills to help you be successful.
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