One of the biggest obstacles I see in our classes is not what you might think. Sure, you need the knowledge and ability, but the secret to succeeding is being mentally tough.
The depth of your resolve
Mental toughness is a bit more recognizable these days, we can point to circumstances and say that person had mental toughness to perceiver and be successful. The Crossfit Games are a perfect example, the shear strength many of these athletes display is one thing, but the mental toughness is the intangible that separates the pack. Mental toughness and strengthening your resolve requires practice, commitment and application. Towards the end of our training days some students are mentally drained and being able to stay focus really determines whether they will be successful or not. Having seen many students struggle it would make sense being mentally tough is tied to being physically tough, but not entirely. I have seen folks who were physical specimens lacking that mentally toughness and vice versa. I will just leave you with this thought and that is the fitter you are, the harder you are to kill.
Clarity of thought
Staying focused on the task at hand when you are tired, sick, uncomfortable or under high stress is something that can be developed over time. I believe the more you are exposed to situations that require you to be mentally tough the easier it becomes. As I watch people consistently perform at the gym, you can see their mental toughness improve. The more physical pain they experience during their journey the easier it is to step outside of their comfort zone. There is something about the unknown that keeps you from performing and staying focused. If you find yourself in more situations that require you to be mentally strong the easier it will be for you to be tough when the time comes. So, practice at being mentally tough seems obvious, but it is the first step.
The forging process
Commitment is the glue that holds it all together. You have to choose to be committed early on and continue to make that choice throughout. I tell this story I “observed” during my Hell Week where one of my classmates had lost his focus, no matter how long the moment lasts the instructor staff smells your commitment wane and they will swoop in for the kill. It’s like blood in the water to sharks. The commitment we made to ourselves and our classmates is what helped get us through what is arguably one of the toughest parts to BUD’s. The commitment I made to my classmates was solid and I relied on it to get me through the tough times for sure, but also to help get others through their tough times. It was this idea of commitment to the program as an individual and class that really began the forging process for mental toughness.
Why do you fall
There is something to be said about riding a bike, you could have forgone riding it for years, maybe decades and the skill comes right back. You got that way because you applied your skills at riding a bike as a kid from sunup to to sundown. It was part of being a kid, that constant application is what gave you the return skill. When you put the effort to apply your skills over and over, it expands your mental toughness through repetition and especially failure.
I believe mental toughness is something that can be developed, that can be strengthened. How well you preform under pressure is based on skill, experience, but the intangible is mental toughness. Stay the course, stay mentally tough.