For as long as I can remember, January has always been a time when I set my sights on what the year ahead might have in store for me. What goals will I set for myself? What will I need to do to reach them? But there is always one thought quietly swimming under the surface. "Have I got what it takes to get there?" Do I have the drive to keep me on track when I feel like it's all too much?
All I'm really asking myself is "Are you tough enough?"
Everyday in the world of sport we hear athletes talk about mental toughness, but mental toughness is just as important in the world of leadership. So what is it?
In 2006, Dr Cory Middleton completed groundbreaking research into the characteristics that bring about mental toughness. His research involved interviewing more than 30 sporting champions from across the globe, which provided the scope to learn about mental toughness from the "experts" and for all of us to profit from the sharing of these experiences. The research revealed that there are four critical components of mental toughness. The combination of these components contributes to an elite performer's mindset and beliefs that goals can be achieved through perseverance and patience.
What are the 4 critical components of mental toughness?
The ability to FOCUS. The ability to COPE. The ability to stay MOTIVATED. The ability to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.
FOCUS: This is all about developing a very clear picture on what it is that you want to achieve. Do you see yourself getting a promotion during the year? Do you see a need to improve your conflict resolution skills? Do you need to increase sales? Whatever it is for you, without having a clear FOCUS on the issue it is easy to get distracted by events on the fringe. Stay focused on the real tasks and the results become clearer.
COPING: This is all about what we do when the heat is on. And as a leader it can get pretty hot sometimes! It's pressure, pressure, pressure! Emotion is everywhere in the workplace. And then there are deadlines, meetings and spot fires that flare up. Sizing this up and knowing what to do first is a coping mechanism. It's a skill to remain calm when all around you is chaos, and your ability to COPE with the myriad number of demands placed on you over a day/week/month/year is a strong indicator of your mental toughness.
MOTIVATION: If you can't keep yourself motivated then get out of the driver's seat and let someone else take the wheel. MOTIVATION is the product of our desire to get something and our commitment to the process. Give yourself a big enough reason "WHY" you are doing what you're doing. Continually remind yourself of your purpose... what is at the heart of what you do? And who does it benefit? If you're looking for someone else to motivate you then you're looking in the wrong place.
SELF BELIEF: Henry Ford said "whether you think you can or think you can't, you're probably right". This doesn't come with a guarantee though! You won't always know with 100% certainty that something can be accomplished. But it is 100% certain that it won't be if you never try. Failure is only the temporary loss of success... Failing to try is permanent. So back yourself in. Let go of the fear of not being good enough. Let go of the fear of failure. Let go of the fear of not belonging? BACK YOURSELF... and BELIEVE in your abilities as a leader.
Learn from the Pro's.... Develop the core competencies of mental toughness and take your performance to a whole new level in 2012!
Here's to higher success...
Dean Evans is a Leadership Performance Strategist based in Adelaide, Australia. With more than 10 years of leadership roles in the field of Allied Health he has a wealth of experience in understanding what it takes to operate at peak levels in pressure environments and how to develop individuals to reach their potential. As the Director of Altitude Performance Solutions his passion is equipping new leaders with the people skills necessary to drive the performance and productivity of their teams in today's business world. Whether speaking to groups of people or conducting team trainings Dean will bring great insights and useful tools to help you harness the power of your people. He is also a qualified Performance Coach and an Accredited Consultant in Extended DISC Performance Profiling.