Mental Toughness

I operate from the place of wanting to contribute, being an example of what is possible, and helping myself and my people embrace this life journey with gusto.

I believe that we all have an inner gift, and sharing this gift allows us to flourish. Often, life and our ego get in the way and we experience anxiety and fatigue which make it hard to express ourselves authentically and under pressure.

In order to alleviate pressure and stress, it is vital to lock into the present moment. Why? Because it is just now. You have choices to make within the now. You can choose to focus on things that can go wrong, things that can go well, or you can direct your energies to the task at hand. Being in the now creates possibility, it generates action. As I often tell my clients, being anxious and feeling stress isn’t a bad thing; in fact, it is a good sign that you care. The best way I know to both embrace the hard and the unknown is to channel your fears. When you have butterflies, recognize that as a good sign that you are doing something that matters. Instead of letting those butterflies steer you off course, get them into formation and channel them accordingly.

I just dropped off my 14 year old son, Leo, for the last exam of his 8th grade year. History is on the docket, and he happens to have a fantastic teacher who challenges and pushes Leo to bring his best each and every day. Leo feels prepared for the final but he also knows that Mr. Michaud’s exams are often hard and outside the lines of the norm so the butterflies were flying. It was beautiful to see him amped up but also actively managing his anxiety. When I asked him what his plan was if he gets distracted or feels overwhelmed, he told me that he has a rubber bracelet on his wrist that he knows to snap to get his head back in the game. Along with the snap, the thought, “I am fine — I got this” helps him stay focused. As simple as this might sound, it is brilliant because it is a ritual he is implementing to help him stay on track and perform under pressure. He is learning the internal skills to manage stress and pressure, so that whatever crosses his path, he is able to stay focused and bring his A game.

For most of us, pressure and stress constrict us in our thinking and being. The importance of recognizing this and adjusting is key. Reframing the situation helps shift perspective. Paying attention to self talk — that inner dialogue — is a skill that we all need to manage in order to flourish, especially in hard environments.

Training ourselves to approach life with optimism and a beginner’s mindset sets the stage for becoming mentally tough. Whatever crosses our path, the knowing that we will stay with it and figure it out is everything. There is a desire to learn that fuels the fire to become stronger and wiser, and this desire gives us the courage to move through our primal brain’s modus operandi which is to keep us safe. As Glennon Melton says, we can do hard things, my loves!

Life is going to go wrong in ways and areas that it will go wrong. You can bet on it. But it is in these conditions that we learn! This is where people who are mentally tough emerge. Adventure and walking into the unknown is where we find our potential. As we butt up against the edge of capacity where we are not skilled and lacking in experience, it can be messy and hard. BUT, amazingly, this is where we rise. This is where the rubber hits the road. This is where we grow. This is where we taste what is possible. This is where we flourish.

Nobody should have to do this journey alone. It is about engaging with this life and cultivating our potential while answering the question Who Am I in the process. In order to do this, you need to learn how to embrace stress and pressure, cultivate relationship with self and others, and develop the internal faculties to deal with the highs and lows and in-betweens of life.

We’re all in this together, and we are all capable of shooting for the stars. Love each other up. Challenge one another. Walk the path together. See what is possible. People have your back. Relationships matter. YOU matter. Now, get to work in cultivating optimism, a beginner’s mindset, and the internal infrastructure to rise in this life. Life is hard but you can do hard things. Cheers to becoming mentally tough and pushing to the edge of your capacity — you will grow in confidence, satisfaction, badassery, durability, and wisdom in the process. The road awaits you! oxo