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8 Tough-Minded Traits That Assure Success The best estimate of how successful a person will be is how much they are able to endure and overcome.

By Sherrie Campbell Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Tough-minded people have grit at their core. They are persistent and resilient in the face of failure, loss, success and challenge. They are committed. Whatever they pursue gets their full attention and nothing less. No amount of hard work is too much to capitalize on a worthwhile opportunity. Because of their commitment they feel no temptation to slack. They stay focused, determined and 100 percent resolute in the pursuit of their goals.

To consistently do what you need to do to succeed requires a laser focus and unshakable commitment that is difficult for most. The tough minded are born with the fortitude and temperament to get back up and keep going through all failure or adversity. That is a trait you will need to adopt to become a more successful you.

1. History is your best teacher.

The past is your valuable teacher. It allows you to learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others as you go through change and challenges of business. Once you see the lesson, don't harbor the pain and embarrassment. Make the necessary changes, then let go. Holding onto your mistakes makes you a victim. Each time something bad has happened to you, take the perspective that it was a perfect opportunity for you to learn to something valuable you didn't know before. When another makes a mistake, see it as an opportunity to forgive, to make note not to do the same thing, and to be understanding.

The past doesn't define you, it trains you. It gives you an opportunity not to dwell on what went wrong, but to make sure you and those around you get things exactly right moving forward.

Related: Former Apple CEO John Sculley: You Learn From Your Mistakes, Not Your Successes

2. Success is within your control.

To be successful you must see success as being totally under your control. Luck has very little to do with success or failure. Luck is something you create through persistence, a positive attitude and networking for opportunities. Luck is the gift of never giving up. Like the Cowardly Lion said from the Wizard of OZ "if you stay on the merry-go-round long enough you're bound to catch the brass ring."

Tough-minded successes do not think about luck. The tough minded know if they succeed they caused it and if they fail, they caused it. Resilience and taking ownership of failures and successes are much more useful for success then worrying about when or if luck will strike.

Work hard, stay committed to your dream and all things will fall into place.

3. Prioritize well.

Mental toughness does not come in an unlimited supply. You have to prioritize your energy to those things within your control. In business not every detail is going to be under your influence. Let go of what you cannot control by prioritizing the aspects of your business you can push, promote and monetize.

Smart business people work smart, not just hard, by knowing what is under their power and influence and what needs to be dismissed from useless worry, concern or attention.

Related: The Secret to Prioritizing Your Time

4. Support the success of others.

The tough minded do not entertain thoughts of lack. The insecure believe there is only so much success to go around, so when someone else takes the stage they believe it diminishes their efforts. You must learn to support the success of others and spend the majority of your time around those who are as successful, if not more successful. than yourself.

The tough minded are aware the influence and inspiration of the successful people they spend their time with can only increase their success.

5. Speak the language of success.

The tough minded make no time for "poor me" complaining, whining or martyrdom about how things are so bad in their lives. Words have power. Language is life. What you speak about is what you live. Complaining has never proven to make people feel better or become more successful.

If there is a failure, the tough minded focus on solutions instead of blaming or complaining.

Related: 15 Body Language Secrets of Successful People

6. They compete with themselves.

The tough minded are not out to compete with others, what others have, their job titles or accomplishments. There is no need to one-up another person. The tough minded are goal-oriented and only compete with themselves and the goals they set. Each goal achieved is a competition won.

To compete with others breeds low-level emotions such an envy or resentment. If you waste time in these traps of comparison you weaken you state of mind and perception of yourself. To become a tough minded success you must compete only with yourself and the goals you set. Constantly strive to be at your best.

7. Revisit benchmarks.

The tough minded always review their long-term business and life goals. Reviewing benchmarks reminds them of why they are doing what they are doing and working so hard to do it. As you are succeeding, mental fatigue or burnout can set in. The key is to review tangible reminders of what your longer term goals are to keep you motivated and on course. The tough minded know these reminders can push them though exhausting and seemingly fruitless times in life and business.

Benchmarks act as guideposts along your path.

8. Grateful.

The tough minded take nothing for granted. They know that being intelligent, motivated, healthy and successful is are gifts. They work hard each day but take time to count their blessings. It is easy to get side tracked on what you don't have or how far away you are from reaching a goal, but the tough minded do not get emotionally highjacked into this type of negativity.

Train yourself to focus on what you have, how far you have come and all you have gained. It is this type of thinking that will keep you inspired to succeed.

To become a tough minded success you must delay gratification and put your responsibilities first. Trust that success will taste much better than momentary times of laziness and procrastination. You must believe that all the hard work is worth it. Become adept at overcoming your fears to get done what needs to get done. Strive to be 100 percent committed and determined. Refuse to lose. Most importantly, focus on the good in your life by becoming solution oriented. No matter what, learn from your mistakes and rise higher after each fall.

Never let a failure defeat you. Let all failures inspire you.

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

Sherrie Campbell

Psychologist, Author, Speaker

Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person.   

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