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Leadership / Leadership Skills

8 Essentials for Developing Mental Fortitude

Adversity is inevitable, but you have to work to develop the strength to get through it successfully.
8 Essentials for Developing Mental Fortitude
Image credit: Tom Werner | Getty Images
- Contributor
Psychologist, Author, Speaker
6 min read

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Mental fortitude is a necessary element of success. Mental fortitude is defined as the ability to focus on and execute solutions when in the face of uncertainty or adversity. If we break under pressure, if we lose patience with the process we're being challenged with, it can easily drive us to quit prematurely. Having the mental fortitude necessary to succeed requires patience, creativity, exploration and execution. When we develop the mental fortitude necessary to stay strong in the face of adversity, we abate the fears of being in it.  

1. Define your win.

Winning should never equal taking the easy way out. Winning is all about competing with the challenge at hand and coming out with the result we want. We have to take on the types of goals which fit well with our beliefs and values. A win is most likely to come when we take a slow but detailed route through the process of exploring the smart solutions to our challenge. To be smart and execute well, we must examine the holes in our plan that our challenge has revealed to us and find the most efficient ways to build a plan that will fill those gaps. A true win in any business is one that is mutually beneficial to all involved.

Related: 2 Simple Steps to Win Clients Your First Week in Business

2. Create efficient procedures.  

When we are in the eye of the storm of any adversity, we must hold our emotional reactions enough to be able to utilize the mental objectivity we need to establish the procedures and strategies necessary to attain our goals. Failure is sometimes the exact thing we need to know what procedures, structures or strategies are missing. The more efficient our foundational procedures are, the easier it is to remain mentally tough, because it is the stability of our procedures that give us something to count on.

Related: 3 Ways to Overcome Adversity and Achieve All Your Goals

3. Set priorities.

It’s hard to possess the mental fortitude necessary to succeed when we lack organization at the base of our business structure. If we don’t prioritize our critical stressors to come first, we act as our own roadblock to success. We can only be accountable and reliable when we tackle our bigger stressors first, and leave the more task-oriented details for later. It is easier to delegate out task-oriented details to others, and it’s wise to do so. This gives us the room to focus on what issues need to be focused on immediately. When fear or failure are present it is too easy to focus on the non-critical details that don’t matter but convince us we’re making progress. Don’t let this be you. Avoiding what is critical because it’s scary will not help you move forward.

Related: 4 Steps to Successful Execution of a Strategy

4. Self-evaluation.

Mental fortitude means we must operate with honesty and integrity. We must take ownership for what is not working properly, whether that is us or something else in our business model. Mentally tough people are not afraid to look in the mirror every day and examine where they have room to improve. To perform well doesn't require perfection as much as it requires the humility to know what is and is not achievable in the moment. If we refuse to engage in self-evaluation, it shows we are not interested in gaining the awareness or information we need to know to assess how well we’re performing or the areas in which we need to show improvement.

Related: Build a Culture of Ownership at Your Company

5. Self-control.

If we want to succeed on any level, we cannot be weak to our more reactive emotions. Mental fortitude is based in skills of emotional intelligence. We must use mindfulness as a way to harness the emotions that control how well we perform. We must learn to manage the degree to which we are always on the edge of losing our mental fortitude to emotions such as fear, anger, frustration or even excitement. When we are effective in managing our emotions, we better prepare ourselves to function at our peak performance levels.

Related: Why You Need Emotional Intelligence to Succeed in Business

6. Prepare for negotiations.

To have the mental fortitude and stability we need to be successful, it is wise to prepare ourselves to have the answers we need. We should always prepare for upcoming meetings or networking opportunities by rehearsing responses for the five most common challenges we face in our industry. When we create the proper communication scripts, we are more confident in meetings and prepared with the intelligent answers to the top questions we will be asked by potential new opportunities.

Related: Mark Zuckerberg Gives a Lesson in How Not to Lead in a Crisis

7. Mental training.

The mind operates like any other fit muscle or unworked lazy muscle in the body. The more we use our mind, the we stretch and challenge it, the stronger it gets. It is important to set up a daily mental workout as a way to dramatically improve our focus, so we can execute with consistency. It’s one of the most effective methods known for keeping our thoughts new and on the cutting edge of what we’re able to achieve. Journal writing is a great way to keep our mind open, active and well-trained. This is a place where we practice self-examination, goal-setting and problem-solving. Sometimes the solutions we come up with in private are solutions we couldn't have explored or discovered in any other way.

Related: 11 Mindsets Learned in Prison Made Me Mentally Unstoppable

8. Relentless optimism.

Success is not built upon negative thinking. To have the mental fortitude necessary to achieve on any level, we must work to replace our pessimistic thinking with hopeful thinking. Attitude is everything, and is a direct result of the thoughts we allow to run through our mind. It’s easiest to stay positive when we approach our solutions one step at a time where any step we take, no matter how small, is considered a critical improvement to our given situation. Focusing on problems only creates more problems. When we set our mind to something, we must find a way to get it done no matter what. With a relentlessly positive and open mindset, we are better disciplined to complete the tasks necessary to make our solutions materialize.  

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