Mental toughness is talked about all the time in sports and business. It’s one thing that people universally believe is a key to success. But, what is it exactly? In a study at West Point by Angela Duckworth she discovered that test scores weren’t the best predictor of new cadets making it through their initial training, called “Beast Barracks”. What she learned was that mental toughness or what she describes as “grit” was the determining factor.
When you break it down mental toughness is all about being able to stay present — and emotionally balanced — consistently focusing on the task at hand even amidst extreme perceived pressure and challenges. We have to put in the work consistently, on an almost daily basis, to create thousands of small wins to build a foundation to withstand the storms (ie a round of layoffs or a huge playoff game) This is built by making commitments, and consistently following through with them — whether or not you are “motivated”. Motivation comes and goes. Which is why we can’t base our work on our feelings. Jerry West said, “if I only worked hard when I felt like it I’d never get anything done”.
It’s consistently putting in the intentional, effective and efficient work over a long period of time that develops mental toughness. When we are training our minds through mindfulness this is the exact skill that we are training. We’re training our minds to be focused on what is exactly in front of us. We’re training our minds to come back to the present, after we get distracted. We’re training our minds to notice the fact that we got distracted. This awareness is everything. When we create this awareness our ability to come back to what we can control increases. We’re not living in the past and we’re not worried the future. We’re fully present and engaged on the task at hand.
At our Point Guard Blueprint Academy and Coaches Skills and Leadership Academy we’ll be teaching you exactly how to build mental toughness by incorporating a practical mindfulness practice into your training or routine. Join us in May.