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Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid


For all the time executives spend concerned about physical strength and health, when it comes down to it, mental strength can mean
even more. Particularly for entrepreneurs, numerous
articles talk about critical characteristics of mental
strengthtenacity, grit, optimism, and an unfailing
ability as Forbes contributor David Williams says, to fail
up.
However, we can also define mental strength by
identifying the things mentally strong individuals dont do.
Over the weekend, I was impressed by this list compiled
by Amy Morin. It impressed me enough Id also like to
share her list here along with my thoughts on how each of
these items is particularly applicable to entrepreneurs.
1. Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves.
You dont see mentally strong people feeling sorry for
their circumstances or dwelling on the way theyve been
mistreated. They have learned to take responsibility for
their actions and outcomes, and they have an inherent
understanding of the fact that frequently life is not fair.
They are able to emerge from trying circumstances with
self-awareness and gratitude for the lessons learned. When
a situation turns out badly, they respond with phrases such
as Oh, well. Or perhaps simply, Next!
2. Give Away Their Power. Mentally strong people avoid giving others the power to make them feel inferior or bad. They understand
they are in control of their actions and emotions. They know their strength is in their ability to manage the way they respond.
3. Shy Away from Change. Mentally strong people embrace change and they welcome challenge. Their biggest fear, if they have
one, is not of the unknown, but of becoming complacent and stagnant. An environment of change and even uncertainty can energize a
mentally strong person and bring out their best.
4. Waste Energy on Things They Cant Control. Mentally strong people dont complain (much) about bad traffic, lost luggage, or
especially about other people, as they recognize that all of these factors are generally beyond their control. In a bad situation, they
recognize that the one thing they can always control is their own response and attitude, and they use these attributes well.
5. Worry About Pleasing Others. Know any people pleasers? Or, conversely, people who go out of their way to dis-please others as
a way of reinforcing an image of strength? Neither position is a good one. A mentally strong person strives to be kind and fair and to
please others where appropriate, but is unafraid to speak up. They are able to withstand the possibility that someone will get upset and
will navigate the situation, wherever possible, with grace.
6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks. A mentally strong person is willing to take calculated risks. This is a different thing entirely than
jumping headlong into foolish risks. But with mental strength, an individual can weigh the risks and benefits thoroughly, and will fully
assess the potential downsides and even the worst-case scenarios before they take action.
7. Dwell on the Past. There is strength in acknowledging the past and especially in acknowledging the things learned from past
experiencesbut a mentally strong person is able to avoid miring their mental energy in past disappointments or in fantasies of the
glory days gone by. They invest the majority of their energy in creating an optimal present and future.
8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over. We all know the definition of insanity, right? Its when we take the same actions again
and again while hoping for a different and better outcome than weve gotten before. A mentally strong person accepts full
responsibility for past behavior and is willing to learn from mistakes. Research shows that the ability to be self-reflective in an
accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs.
9. Resent Other Peoples Success. It takes strength of character to feel genuine joy and excitement for other peoples success.
Mentally strong people have this ability. They dont become jealous or resentful when others succeed (although they may take close
notes on what the individual did well). They are willing to work hard for their own chances at success, without relying on shortcuts.

10. Give Up After Failure. Every failure is a chance to improve. Even the greatest entrepreneurs are willing to admit that their early
efforts invariably brought many failures. Mentally strong people are willing to fail again and again, if necessary, as long as the
learning experience from every failure can bring them closer to their ultimate goals.
11. Fear Alone Time. Mentally strong people enjoy and even treasure the time they spend alone. They use their downtime to reflect,
to plan, and to be productive. Most importantly, they dont depend on others to shore up their happiness and moods. They can be
happy with others, and they can also be happy alone.
12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything. Particularly in the current economy, executives and employees at every level are gaining
the realization that the world does not owe them a salary, a benefits package and a comfortable life, regardless of their preparation and
schooling. Mentally strong people enter the world prepared to work and succeed on their merits, at every stage of the game.
13. Expect Immediate Results. Whether its a workout plan, a nutritional regimen, or starting a business, mentally strong people are
in it for the long haul. They know better than to expect immediate results. They apply their energy and time in measured doses and
they celebrate each milestone and increment of success on the way. They have staying power. And they understand that genuine
changes take time. Do you have mental strength? Are there elements on this list you need more of? With thanks to Amy Morin, I
would like to reinforce my own abilities further in each of these areas today. How about you?

2. Defining Moments
We all have those times in life I like to call "defining moments." These moments in time can be glorious or disastrous,
but always shape the direction and path of who we become. We grow and become better or worse for it. The difference
between better or worse is how the situation is perceived.
If something bad happens to you, do you view it as a learning experience and move on, or do you let it tear you up? If
something good happens, do you look back to ask why or write it off as luck? What does all this have to do with strength
training? Everything! -- Dave Tate

3. Turning Pro
Becoming an effective soldier in the war of personal development hinges on your ability to make the shift from amateur to
professional. Pressfield has very specific definitions for these terms, which have nothing to do with whether or not you're making a
living from your "art." Instead, they have more to do with your attitudes and habits. Since being an amateur comes easy to all of us,
I'll show you how to "turn pro" with the following seven strategies:
1. Show Up
Dan John often says that most of success is just showing up. I agree. Even a poor workout is far more valuable than skipping it
altogether. Amateurs naively expect every workout to be a wonderful experience. Pros are grateful for the times they do go well, but
are prepared to go to work in the face of adversity. While the amateur celebrates every minor win, the pro embraces the old
weightlifter's creed, "There is no joy in victory, no agony in defeat."
It's funny how when you just show up, you at least have a shot at being successful.

2. Commit
Malcolm Gladwell has popularized the notion that it takes at least 10,000 hours of "deep practice" (which entails working at the outer
limits of your ability, not simply doing stuff you're already good at) to achieve mastery in a particular endeavor.
This means that if you spend 5 hours a week in the gym every week you'll hit the 10,000-hour mark in about 38 years. By that
steep standard I'm almost halfway there. How about you? What's that? In addition to your 5 hours a week in the gym you also spend 5
hours a week reading and learning everything you can? Congrats, I guess you'll only need 19 years to call yourself a master!

3. Cultivate Patience
According to legends, ancient martial arts masters used to require new students to spend their first year cleaning the floor and
performing other menial tasks. Why? Because the master cannot afford to waste his time on those who hold weak uncommitted
mindsets. Their time is better spent on those committed to success.
Most of us here at T Nation are interested in getting bigger, leaner, and stronger. While these attributes come fairly quickly at first,
before long the "beginner's gains" are all but a fading memory. It's at this point that the pros differentiate themselves from the
amateurs.
Once you're more than say, 5 years in, gains will be slow. At the 20-year mark, you'll be happy to put 10 pounds on your best squat, or
to gain 3 pounds of muscle. If that sounds like too much to deal with, better to quit now because it'll only get worse as time goes on.

4. Impose Structure
The body thrives on routine, and the best athletes know it. Drug and character issues aside, Lance Armstrong was a great example of
athletic structure. Every day was as tightly and carefully scheduled as the corporate CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Armstrong often
said he not only thrived on monotony, he actually reveled in it. That's not to say that your life has to be totally boring in order to be
successful, but a certain level of structure is an absolute requirement.
You can't succeed in the gym if the rest of your life is chaotic. Staying out late, missing meals, forgetting your gym bag, stressing out
from fighting with your boyfriend these are all reliable signs that you're still an amateur.
5. No Excuses
Throughout my career as a strength coach, I've seen lots of great athletes with great attitudes and questionable practices, but no great
athletes with poor attitudes, no matter how valid their habits may have been. The problem with excuses is they're so easy to find, so
tempting to use.
6. Prepare
, I hope you've already noticed the synergy between points four and six: The more structured and organized your life is, the easier your
preparation is.
7. Don't Over-Identify With Your Results
This final admonition is perhaps the most important. Amateurs often fail to develop the previous six habits for fear of failure. Pros, on
the other hand, have no such fear because they realize that they and their work are different entities.
Think about it, if your entire sense of well-being is inexorably hinged on whether or not you succeed at your sport, it'll take a giant
ability to commit to the level you'll need in order to succeed. If you only make a half-hearted effort, you already have a justification
for failure a build-in exit strategy.
Amateurs base their entire self-worth on their results. Pros, on the other hand, simply go to work, day after day. They don't get overly
excited over good workouts and they don't lose any sleep over bad ones, because they know in both cases, they'll still be going back to
work the next day, just as they always have. Ten years later, when asked about their "overnight success," they just smile and shake
their head.

4. The Grind
Having been behind the scenes in the lives of some very successful athletes, I can tell you that the reality is much different from what
most people would imagine. The most successful athletes those who are truly pros are exceptionally devoid of drama. They simply
go to work each and every day.

The best athletes possess a monk's mentality. Every day is the same thing just you and the barbell in a private war of wills. Once
you've gotten past the beginner phase, it's always a grind. Most of the time the bar wins, but on occasion, every so often, you're the
one who emerges victorious. And then the next day, it's back to the grind all over again.
So if you're ready for success, you'll need to patiently commit to the process in a structured and organized way. Prioritize incessant
preparation and never make excuses for your failures, even if those excuses are legitimate.
Finally, training is what you do, not who you are. Create a healthy degree of separation between yourself and your talents. Only then
will you have the freedom to commit yourself fully to your craft. Do all this, and all that's left is to collect your medals.

Teammate Tests Can you...


celebrate for a successful teammate when you are struggling?
give up individual glory for team glory and be just as happy?
compete right through your mistakes and help teammates recover
from theirs?
compete all out for playing time in practice and still maintain
friendships?
stay positive, determined and confident, regardless of the situation?