Have you ever wondered what is the difference between a great athlete and a good athlete? A Great Leader and a Good Leader? A Great Parent and a Good Parent?
Why do some people accomplish their goals while the others fail?
What is the reason for this difference?
The general answers that we would get are:
She is brilliant at strategy or he is the smartest person in the organisation or she is faster than everybody else in the team.
However, I am sure you would also know that there must be more to the story than just that.
There has been research done on this and it is starting to show that your mental strength or what we also call “GRIT”, plays a very important, in fact more important, role in achieving your goals… No matter if they are personal life goals, business goals or health goals.
Let me give you a brief outline on a study that Angela Duckworth, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted a while back. It was on the power of GRIT. Duckworth is one of the lead researchers on the power mental strength, perseverance and passion on your ability to achieve goals.
So she studied a total of 2441 cadets at a US military academy, spread across two entering classes. She started with their high school grades & ranks, SAT scores, Leadership Potential Score (reflects participation in extracurricular activities), Physical Aptitude Exam (which is a standard physical exercise evaluation) and Grit Scale (Same as what we have on our website, check here, which measures perseverance and passion for long term goals).
So these cadets who enter this academy have to complete a series of brutal tests during their first summer on campus and this program is internally know as “Beast Barracks”
And what Duckworth found is… It was grit, the perseverance and passion of achieving long term goals, that made the difference. It was not the physical strength the smartness or the leadership potential that accurately predicted whether or not a cadet would finish the course.
You may find it surprising but it was their mental strength or GRIT that predicted whether or not a cadet would be successful… not their talent or intelligence or genetics. And all this while we have been thinking that talent or intelligence or genetics is important for one to succeed. (She has conducted many more researches, on students also, and found that GRIT matters more than anything else in one’s success.
So, how do we develop mental strength?
In my experience these strategies work well
Define what mental strength means to you
In the research by Duckworth, for the cadets mental strength meant finishing the entire course that summer.
For you it might be different…
- Meditating everyday for the next ___ months
- No processed food for the next ____ weeks
- One extra set of each exercise you do in your gym
- No break in your gym routine for the next ___ months
It could be anything but whatever it is, be very clear about it. Mental strength seems to be an abstract/ intangible quality but it is tied to a tangible concrete action. So if you want to become mentally strong you would need to prove to yourself by doing something concrete in life.
And this brings me to my second point…
Always remember Mental strength is built through small physical wins.
You can’t become committed or consistent with a weak mind. How many workouts have you missed because your mind, not your body, told you you were tired? How many reps have you missed out on because your mind said, “Nine reps is enough. Don’t worry about the tenth.” Probably thousands for most people, including myself. And 99% are due to weakness of the mind, not the body.
When we talk about mental strength we always think about how somebody responds to extreme situations. No doubt extreme situations test our courage, our perseverance and our mental strength… however what about everyday circumstances?
Your mental strength is like a muscle. You need to work on it for it to grow and develop. So like at the gym you do that extra rep when it is easier to just stop
or you ask that extra question when it is easier to accept
or choosing to be a creator when it is easier to be a consumer.
All these are small wins that would help you prove to yourself that you have it in you to battle with life. Mental strength is built through small wins. It is the small actions and the small wins that we have daily that help us build our mental strength.
Mental Strength is about your habits, not your motivation.
Remember Motivation is unstable, and willpower comes & goes.
Mental strength is not about getting that incredible does of inspiration or courage. It is about working on building daily habits that would allow you to stick to a schedule and help you overcome the challenges and the distractions that you face over and over and over again.
People who are mentally tough do not need to be more talented or more intelligent or more courageous… they just need to be more consistent. Such people develop systems around them that help them to focus on things that are important irrespective of the obstacles that life may put in front of them. They develop habits that form a foundation for their mental strengths through mental beliefs and this is what sets them apart.
So if you are struggling during these tough times I would suggest that you start working on the 3 strategies listed above to come out stronger.
Also, you can check out your “Mental Strengths Profile” to better understand which areas of your mental strengths you need to work on immediately.
All the best and Stay Safe!!!