Insight, Inspiration, Motivation

Mental Toughness

 I have recently been reading Steve Siebold’s books on mental toughness. Steve Siebold is a ‘mental toughness’ coach, who believes that successful people are tough on themselves, stop blaming other people and circumstances for not achieving their goals and do whatever it takes, to succeed. Got me thinking about what it means to be ‘tough’ – besides the will to succeed, of course.

Here is what I came up with: True mental toughness is:

  • Making the right choice – This may mean suffering a financial loss. Johnson and Johnson pulled Tylenol off the market at the cost of over 100 million dollars in 1982. Although they lost millions immediately, they gained it all back eventually. They also gained credibility and will forever be cited for their excellent public relations. It may also mean looking like a fool, when everybody else is doing something different. Whoever said peer pressure works only on teenagers?
  • Being able to say ‘No’ and hear ‘No’ – Nobody can really do everything that is ever asked of them. Anybody who tries will only end up failing. Either you will say yes and then disappoint the other person by not being able to deliver or you will do what you say at the cost of other probably more important things that you need done for yourself or somebody else. The flip side, of course is, accepting the fact that when you ask something of somebody, they have two options – yes and no. Both answers are right,and it should be based on their assessment, not yours.
  • Knowing that not everybody in this world is going to think the world of you!- in other words, being able to take criticism well. Different people criticise you for different reasons. Often, there may be at least some truth to the criticism. If there is one, learn from it. If not, it may still help to reflect on what is said, because it shows you another perspective.
  • Being able to face the challenges in life without complaining – Life is often not fair. Some people seem to get a far worse deal than others. It is impossible to understand why. As Viktor Frankl said in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning‘,  if suffering cannot be avoided, then some people find meaning in accepting it with dignity.
  • Facing up to emotional responsibility – When a man’s wife gave birth to a child with a missing arm, many of his friends avoided visiting him for almost a year – they just did not know how to face him! A family physician avoided telling a patient that he had metastatic cancer – instead simply referred him to a specialist, with the news that he had a lesion on his liver. Those were really sensitive and caring people – but just did not know how to handle the pain.
  • Accepting responsibility for one’s life – and the events that occur in it – When we blame anybody else for our problems, we lose the power to make a difference in our own lives. Only when we take the power back can we actually take action and therefore make a difference.
  • Making an apology with no ‘but’s – An apology should not be followed by any kind of qualifier or further explanation. That would imply a shifting of the responsibility and thereby invalidate the apology completely.
  • Staying on track – even when every fibre of your being wants to quit – Either due to exhaustion or due to discouragement – Napolean Hill tells the story of the man who gave up mining for gold and sold his machinery when he could not find any. The new owner of the mine found it just three feet away from where the first man had stopped mining! When we reach the point when we want to give up, success could be just around the corner.

February 6, 2011 - Posted by | Personal Journey, Psychology, Self Improvement


  1. Great thoughts on mental thoughness! I could also call it: mindsets.

    I can add: make goals that start from where you are right now.
    If you have a goal to make a million, the simplest thing to do is: start with what you have, let’s say: $50 and double it. That’s your goal. Then, once you double it – double it again.Every new goal starts with where you are right now.


    Comment by Tsvetanka Petrova | February 6, 2011 | Reply

    • True. Its called baby steps.
      Thanks for your input, Tsvetanka.


      Comment by kindlelife | February 6, 2011 | Reply

  2. Got a new boost of energy and assurance to get rid of any doubts in my mind about a few things that i have been deliberating on.. thanks for the write up on mental toughness.. cant wait to read more 🙂


    Comment by Meena Mullur | February 7, 2011 | Reply

  3. Sometimes semantics can lead us into a direction that may not be the most useful; for example, the phrase “mental toughness” has an antagonistic, unyielding sense. I think of the qualities you are espousing here from what may be a different direction: elasticity, resourcefulness, divergent thinking, positivity and so on. Sometimes tough people err on the side of stubbornness. I suggest that there are other qualities which can direct toughness in what may be a more useful direction than the word itself suggests.


    Comment by Doug Hill | February 10, 2011 | Reply

    • True, Doug,
      I guess, I should have qualified further – what I intended was to contrast this against those that pass off stubbornness and unyielding behaviours, as well as lack of compassion as toughness – although I did not go so far as to say it. I appreciate the negative connotation that creeps in – guess it depends on the perspective. I’m actually on the lookout for a better term, since this term was used by Steve Siebold.


      Comment by kindlelife | February 11, 2011 | Reply

  4. Hi Dr. Menon, I just wanted to let you know that this read came at a really good time for me to jump start a positive begining…again… the past 7-8 mths have been tough on a personal level and Ive let this consume me. To a certain degree Ive let myself fall by the wayside and forgotten that although many things in life that happen are by no choice of our own BUT how we choose to view, accept,and deal with them are completely our own choice. Thanks for the reminder! Shawna


    Comment by shawna | February 23, 2011 | Reply

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