Hustler’s Mantra : Cultivate Mental Toughness
Have you ever wondered what makes someone successful? What makes someone good at academics? What makes someone a top performer? Why do some people achieve their goals while others do not? When we answer these questions, we usually think that their talent and intelligence is what makes them successful but researchers say that talent only accounts for 30% of their achievement. Then what makes a bigger impact than talent? It’s their MENTAL TOUGHNESS.
Mental Toughness is the ability to move towards our goals, irrespective of what the circumstance might be. People who are mentally tough, just don’t adapt well in face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or stressful situations but they also thrive in such situations. Irrespective of whatever the situation might look like, they face the challenges head on and find ways to thrive.
Have you ever heard of astronaut - Chris Hadfield? I’d like to share with you a really fascinating story about his experience during a spacewalk where he exhibited incredible mental toughness. During his first space walk there was contamination inside his suit that got into one of his eyes and stopped it from working but he kept doing the work he was doing with the help of his other eye. Since there is no gravity the tears from the contaminated eye balled up and flowed to the other eye through his nose. Now, his other eye was also contaminated and he couldn’t see completely.
Imagine if we were in this situation what would our reaction be? I bet we would’ve been cripplingly scared and panicked but Chris maintained his calm. Instead of being worried and overly dramatic with the problem he was thinking of ways to try and solve the problem. He says in an interview “In this case I was incapacitated to some degree but I could talk, I could think, I was still fine, I could communicate with everybody, I just couldn’t see.” In the end he did come up with a solution, he opened the purge valve of his suit and let the contaminated atmosphere exit. Once the contaminated air was out, he was able to see again.
He says that there were only two things on his mind in that moment when he completely lost his vision while floating in the outer space. 1) He was thinking about what caused the problem and what the solution could be. 2) He was frustrated because he couldn’t do the things that he was supposed to do. He should be building this huge robot arm on the outside on the spaceship but he was floating uselessly. Even when he wasn’t sure if he’d regain his sight, he was all concerned about finding a solution to the problem and completing his mission. To become successful we need to cultivate this kind of mental toughness – the grit – the perseverance and passion to achieve our goals.
In ordinary course of events, our life holds some good times and some bad times as well. Everybody has to face some stress, challenge, pain and tragedy in one form or another. But the way we respond to such hardships makes a difference. Some people wilt and crumble and quit when things go badly but others seem to consistently rise to the situation, no matter how bad it is, meet their challenges with grace and confidence. The one thing that separates those who weather the storms in their life well and those who are consumed by them is their Mental Toughness.
In the recent months, we all have seen a redefinition of life in an unprecedented scale. The shifts we’re seeing have affected nearly every aspect of our lives, so it’s essential to develop the mental toughness to stay strong and resilient in the face of adversity. We cannot have control over all the difficult circumstances in our life, but we can retain a sense of stability by controlling how we respond to adversity. Feeling strong and balanced allows us to adapt to changing circumstances more readily and find creative solutions to problems, which is important to achieve our goals.