Finding Your Mental Toughness

“Verbalize it first because if you do, then you can understand what that situation did for you.”

“These things that throttle your life, can make you a killer later in life.”

“If you don’t understand yourself, there is no way you will be able to effectively communicate and work with others.”

“So many people fail to realize that the mental stuff is what limits them. Its not anything physical. Its all in your mind.”

“Confrontation in entrepreneurial life is mandatory. Do not be afraid of it.”

“In your life, you are in control of everything. If you don’t believe that then motherfucker, check your head!”

“Whenever you try to forgive someone, you’re winning.”

Episode Index:

  • Welcome Back: 00:30
  • How We Became Mentally Tough – John’s Story: 3:30
  • How We Became Mentally Tough – Cory’s Story: 10:00
  • Understanding Yourself: 16:00 
  • Self Limiting Beliefs: 22:00
  • Using Mental Toughness To Handle Daily Problems: 29:00
  • Do You Need Mental Toughness?: 34:30
  • Mental Toughness & Forgiveness: 46:50
  • John’s Nightly Struggle: 52:00

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

No one wants to go through hardship. You don’t just wake up in the morning and become automatically okay with all the negativity and problems that are surrounding you. It takes time for these challenges to benefit you. Eventually you reach a point, where you expect things to be tough so you are more prepared when it comes but you never wish it upon yourself. Who in their right mind would? That said, every time you go through something like this you add a notch in your belt, gaining more experience with each difficulty, becoming a better entrepreneur and person for it. It is important to look at the root, to look at the foundation of yourself and understand where mental toughness comes from. When John was a kid, only about 12 years old, he came home from school and noticed his mother was not there, but his grandmother was. An uncommon scenario for him growing up. He realized his mother’s car was parked at the neighbors house and walked outside to go see her. As he was walking out of the garage, two police officers are coming toward him. “Whats going on?”, he asked, receiving no response. The police officer shoved John to the ground and kept moving forward. They later returned with John’s father in handcuffs, escorting him toward the police car. John looked at his father and made brief eye contact before his father buried his head in shame. Upon seeing his mother, John realized that his father had beaten his mother for the last time. She had chipped teeth and a black eye. She told John that, since he was in middle school now and his sibling was in high school that they were old enough now to where she can leave John’s father without it terribly affecting the children. This experience became one of the foundations for the man John is today. This situation sparked a choice for John, he could sit and be mad about his situation or he could use it to develop a thick skin, becoming tolerant of difficult situations. This day was the start of John developing his mental toughness. Life is going to be hard, the choice will be yours as to what you do with the difficulties.

Cory’s parents had both tried multiple businesses, constantly changing jobs, his dad was flipping between being on strike and working as a coal miner. This resulted in Cory’s father putting a lot of value in the lottery. Cory watching his father constantly becoming upset when he didn’t win the lottery left a mark on Cory. As a family, they would all gather around and wait with high hopes, in anticipation of how their lives could change if those magic numbers appeared on the screen. As a child, Cory knew all the intricacies and ways to play the lottery because his dad would spend money to buy in to every game. However, this anticipation always resulted in severe disappointment. Daily, Cory and his family were getting hyped up and then let down because of this habit. In addition  to witnessing his parents fight over not being able to pay bills, but his father is still buying lottery tickets, it took a toll on him. The little things like that helped Cory develop a sense of fiscal responsibility and drive to never put himself or his family in the position his father did.

Everyone has some kind of skeleton in their closet that has formed them into who they are today. Most people don’t want to articulate or talk about these experiences. Not speaking about these things will only make the situation worse. The experiences will haunt you, rather than work toward your long term success. Mental toughness is what gets you through these circumstances. Opening these doors is difficult. It can be one of the hardest things you have to do but the benefits that come from verbalizing it, far outweigh the cost or risk associated.

We are all a product of what happens to us as kids. Then we have the ability to form it as we become adults. There is tremendous value in understanding yourself. Understanding why you are the way you are, not only helps you personally but enhances your relationships and ability to work with others. These difficulties are the things that shape our lives the most, but when we hide from them, we are disabling ourselves. It hurts going back in time and feeling that shit, but there is so much value in it. Going back and examining your life is how you break through. Part of being tough is continuing to look inward even though it hurts.

Cory hit a ceiling when he started making money in the low six figures. It was almost as if he felt, he wasn’t worthy of making any more than that. Of course this was not true, he was putting this limitation on himself because he had never really seen anything more than that. The way he was able to break through this was by consistently asking himself, “why not me?” So many people fail to realize that the mental stuff is what limits them. Its not anything physical. Its all in your mind.

John used to believe that every issue needed to be met with confrontation. Not just confrontation but intense confrontation. Introspection has helped him realize that it is not necessary and he is able to better handle situations in which he used to fly off the handle. He still feels comfortable in confrontation but is much more calm and level headed. Likely, because it is his comfort zone. Because he grew up around so much of it, it has become what he knows best so when there is a moment of confrontation he feels right at home. Prior to doing some self-reflection on this issue John would be reckless in confrontation, but not anymore. Confrontation in entrepreneurial life is mandatory. Do not be afraid of it. That being said, confrontation does not mean yelling and arguing. It simply means to confront someone. It is to bring someone’s attention to an issue that you are having. It does not have to be aggressive.

The mental toughness that was developed at the early stages in life is used to look at current situations and say “hey this isn’t that bad. If I can get through all that shit from early on, this is no problem.” Its about preventing your brain from thinking that the sky is falling because the sky is never falling. No matter how much it may seem like it, you are always in control therefore you have the ability to fix your situation. No you cannot control what your boss does, but you can control how you interact with them. This gives you control over the situation.

There is a short litmus test you can do to see if you need more mental toughness. If you are the type of person who says, or thinks that they are in a bad mood and then proceeds to treat other people poorly, using ‘being in a bad mood’ as an excuse then you need more mental toughness. So many people believe that if they are having a bad day, they can take it out on the world. If that is how you operate then you have no mental toughness. Everyone gets in bad moods, but a better way to handle it is to give people a fair warning. Let your loved ones know that you are frustrated with X, Y or Z and apologize in advance in case you are rude, or short with them. Everyone has bad days. Those who handle these days with maturity and responsibility are the ones who win in the long run. There are wins and losses every day but it is all about how you work through them.

Everyone has different ways of putting things into perspective and motivating themselves to pull themselves out of a hole or rut they may be in. Cory thinks about his friend who was diagnosed with terminal cancer who chooses everyday to put on a brave face and live each day to fullest. Viewing every day as gift. Sure he could sit in his bed and cry all day but what good would that do for him or his family. John thinks about a friend of his who was killed in Iraq. John thinks about this friend and all the other people serving in the armed forces overseas and immediately calls himself out on his bullshit. Asking himself “why are you being such a bitch!?” This pulls him out of whatever funk he is in. It doesn’t matter what you do personally, as long as you can find what works for you. Find what pulls on your heart strings and let it work for you. This promotes mental toughness.

No matter how vile or vicious someone or something is the ability to TRY and forgive them requires mental toughness. Whether you are successful or not, the willingness to try is a tremendous show of mental toughness. For John, such an instance came about with his father. Knowing that this man was responsible for many of the difficulties in John’s childhood, he was able to look at the man and attempt to forgive him. While it hasn’t happened fully yet, the forgiveness is pending a sustained change in his father’s behavior. Mental toughness doesn’t always come in the form of ‘look how tough I am’, oftentimes it is displayed by being the bigger person.

Nearly everyone who has had success has been through some serious adversity in life. Whether it was early as a child or later on. Trials and tribulations like those experienced by John and Cory seem to be something of a prerequisite for sustained success. So when you are going through it, know that in the long run you can be better for having experienced it, should you choose to be.

If you are struggling with a bad habit or are trying to change behavior, put together a list of the things you will potentially lose from engaging in a certain behavior as well as a list of the things you have gained by not engaging in that behavior.

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