The mind is the most creative and destructive force we can control. Despite what you might think, mental strength is not a skill we are born with. As we go through life we need to learn how to view stressful and competitive situations in a productive way; either its at work, as an athlete or in private settings.
Mental strength is the ultimate difference between success and failure. I have seen it in many situations, both as a hockey player but first and foremost as a sports coach and business consultant. If the athletes in a sports team or managers in a company lack mental strength and ultimately dont belive in success – they will quit when facing the slightest resistance.
We can all agree on that the first fight is in our mind. You must first overcome your fears and win the battle inside before handling the actual situation. This is true for any situation, both professional and private. The question then is how.
“Mental strength can be defined as the ability to continue according to plan in line with your values despite difficulty or consequences—to never quit”
1 Be positive and count your blessings
There is constantly an inner dialogue going on in your mind. These thoughts are a mixture of outside stimuli and your own beliefs. You will have to accept the negative thoughts but focus on the ones that make you feel better. Be grateful for the good things in your life and make it a habit. Try to intentionally identifying three things you are grateful for, every day.
It might be hard in the start but you will find that counting blessings instead of burdens will have a major impact on your mindset! If you dont think you will get that lift or score a goal – you will probably fail before you even tried.
2 Find your why and tap into the inner GPS
Simon Sineks TED talk should be mandatory for parents, schools, workplaces and in sports. He talks about the importance of knowing why we do what we do. If we lack a clear motive, a WHY, its hard to be persistent when facing obstacles and hardness. Think of your why as your inner GPS that gives you directions to stay on track towards your goal.
An easy way to stay in a positive state of mind and define your WHY is to create a mission statement. Take the time to consider your reason for working extra hours, hitting the gym, starting up a business, or whatever your goal.
“If you have a sincere reason why, you can make anything happen”
3 Visualize and get in the «Zone»
The power of visualization is something I learned early on as a hockey player. As part of our game prep our coach told us to visualize the game, different scenarios and potential outcomes. To play the game in our mind and prepare for eventualities, how everything feels inside you and even how you will react and think. This technique is extremely powerful and I have used it in many aspects ever since, both on athletes and business managers. Combined with diaphragmatic breathing its also an efficient way to get into «the zone». This will prepare your body and mind for performance by increasing your capacity for focused attention and long term concentration. The cool headed state that will let you perform with ease even under high pressure. Let it be a closure or winning the gold medal in the Olympics.
“Building mental strength is very similar to building physical strength. If you put in a little work consistently every day you will see tremendous results over time.”
Continue according to plan
The goal isn’t to get rid of disturbing thoughts and emotions, it’s the opposite: to increase tolerance for them and help you to continue according to plan despite of them.
It can be tempting to wait until you feel «ready» to make a change. But waiting until you feel a certain way about yourself can easily backfire. Chances are you will remain and feel exactly the same unless you actually make a change. Overcoming tough situations builds confidence in the ability to handle similar situations. A great way to get exposure to negative thoughts and emotions is to start with a CrossFit regime, when coached correctly, you will be trained to continue to work regardless of these negative thoughts and emotions in line with the never-quit spirit of CrossFit. When you experience success and mastery in one aspect of your life – chances are it will transfer to all the others.