Mental toughness is an individual’s ability to resist, manage, and overcome any circumstance hindering success. Those who are mentally tough are able to maintain focus on the big picture and not let temporary hardships overwhelm them.
Angela Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, has developed a test that measures an individual’s mental toughness. The “Grit Scale” measures the passion, tenacity, and stamina that allows people to maintain effort toward long-term goals and using her scale, she has been able to accurately measure mental toughness and predict the success of students, athletes, and professionals.
1. Work Harder After Defeat
According to a study by Addison Group, 8 out of 10 employees are likely to search for a new job after one bad day at work. Challenges in the workforce are frequent and, for many, can be mentally debilitating. But for those with grit, challenges and failures are motivation to work even harder the next day.
2. Forego Instant Gratification
Delayed gratification is a trait of the mentally strong due to the intense focus on long-term goals. Rather than rewarding themselves for individual strides in the right direction, people with grit delay instant gratification until they achieve the long-term desired results.
3. Don’t Waste Time Thinking About Failures
The most successful professionals are so active in pursuit of success that they spend no time worrying about failure. People who aren’t mentally strong waste time and energy on worrying about bad outcomes and what others think of them, while those who are mentally strong put that energy toward bettering themselves and their processes. Professionals with grit view failure as an inevitable step in the process of reaching their goals, and get right back to work.
4. Keep Emotions in Check
Emotional balance is key to productivity and staying focused on goals. Negative emotions like worry and stress wear on a professional’s ability to stay focused, while overconfidence can result in impulsiveness and an inability to work collaboratively. Mentally strong professionals are able to identify when emotions are becoming a distraction and maintain emotional stability.
5. Embrace Daunting Challenges
Nothing worth having comes easy. Professionally, success may take months of working overtime, stepping out of comfort zones, and making difficult decisions. When faced with a situation they may not be looking forward to, people with mental strength remain results-driven and will do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.
6. Trust Your Instincts
Mentally strong professionals are able to find the balance between trusting their instincts and being impulsive. Trusting instincts means thoroughly evaluating decisions from every possible angle, and if there isn’t a clear choice, using previous situations and knowledge to come to a decision.
7. Be a Trailblazer
Many people have the ability to be effective leaders when they are empowered to do so with a loyal following, but only those who have mental strength can lead when no one else follows. The ultimate test of leadership is having complete faith in oneself, even when others are doubting.
8. Focus on Details
Even when the details seem trivial, paying close attention to them is an indicator of mental strength—they can easily make or break any task or project. Going over every detail can be mentally taxing, but if professionals are truly dedicated to a successful outcome, they will go to any length to make sure the entirety of the project is well-executed.
9. Practice Kindness
As once stated by Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high.” Practicing mental strength means treating others with respect and kindness, always. Professionals with mental strength can stand their ground and defend their viewpoints while keeping emotions in check and maintaining their professionalism at all times.
10. Always Take Accountability
Taking responsibility for mistakes and working to find solutions is an indicator of mental strength. By avoiding excuses and taking accountability, mentally strong professionals show that they care about a positive outcome more than their ego.