Why You Aren’t Mentally Tough

How can we build mental toughness? Some people seem to have it, others don’t. If there is an x-factor, what is it and how do you get it?

I read this article on the seven habits of tough-minded leaders, and it helped to define in my own mind what mental toughness looked like.

Tough-minded leaders typically are/do the following:

  1. They manage their emotions.
  2. They are self-confident.
  3. They choose their associates wisely.
  4. They face their fears and take action.
  5. They say no.
  6. They are self-disciplined.
  7. They do not compare themselves to others.

Here are three common areas where people lack tough-mindedness.

You avoid conflict

Some people avoid conflict like a plague. Others address it emotionally. There is a happy medium.

Avoiding conflict lets it fester. By addressing it head on, you’re able to put it behind you.

Being emotional gives others the upper hand, and could mean you’ll lose credibility.

I like to address issues as I see them because then I don’t have to remember to be mad at someone. I free my mind. Addressing issues head on also allows you to learn how to handle many different types of situations. Since experience is a teacher, this experience means you get better at dealing with conflict.

You don’t plan

I’ve too often heard people say “I just didn’t see it coming” or “how could I know *blank* would happen.” Reality is, a good plan can offset those unknowns. It’s likely you’re not the first, nor will you be the last, to deal with an issue. By planning you aren’t surprised. The enemy to crisis is preparation.

By planning, our minds have already wrapped around those scenarios. By planning and eliminating big surprises, we’re emotionally ready for the next step.

You aren’t in shape

Yes, this includes physically, but also mentally. By practicing, researching, and strengthening those muscles (whether physical or mental), you’ll be more likely to react correctly in the heat of the moment. Self-discipline breeds success, which is why I love this quote:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. – Aristotle


Build the right habits. Plan for the future. Address conflict head on. Those are the x-factors to gain mental toughness.