We live in a world that is constantly battling for our minds.  A weak mind is no match for that kind of exposure.  Mental fortification is a must if we are going to thrive—let alone survive—in today’s world.

Mental toughness elevates your game.

Is talent important?  Yes, but that’s not the key.  We all know talented people who have gifts and charisma, but who lack tenacity and persistence.  They aren’t tough-minded.  They don’t follow their good intentions—often starting things without finishing them.

The truth?  People don’t receive rewards and recognition, or personal satisfaction by how they began.  It’s how they end.  Beginnings are important.  But endings trump beginnings.  All is well that begins well.  Yet even better is all is well that ends well.

Here are 5 things to note:

  1. Persistence is really a term that means strong-minded. Persistence is about having a strong mind that gives you the energy and endurance to face challenges.  Being tough-minded gives you the courage to grow from the stresses you experience.

  Blessed are the persistent, for they shall be heard —- eventually.

  1. Tough-mindedness is different than hardheadedness.  Hardheaded people might at first appear tough-minded.  Hardheaded folks cut themselves off from learning.  They are right, “and that’s the end of the debate.”  No learning takes place.  And more than anything, the ego is in the way, usually in the form of pride or fear.
  1. Tough-minded people seek out feedback and input.  In fact strong-minded people do not have weak egos.  They will change if there is a better way.  They will openly embrace failures as valuable learning tools.  They aren’t interested in “being right.” They are interested in “being better.” Hardheaded folks are close-minded. The mentally tough are open-minded.
  1. Being tough-minded doesn’t mean we are mistake free.  Some mistakes we even grieve.  But being tough-minded means we don’t allow grief to become our lifestyle.  The mentally tough mourn, whereas the mentally weak moan.  There is a difference between weeping and A loss can deepen us, but should not define us. It’s an aspect of our maturity, but not our identity.
  1. Talent is a gift to us, but don’t rely on talent to carry the day.  Tough-mindedness includes…

Tenacity       Commitment       Courage       Conviction     Humility

These attributes connect your beginnings to your endings. Tough-minded people learn along the way.  And here’s a side effect.  People always follow the tough-minded.  This is a major quality of a leader.  Even though they avoid hardheaded people, having a strong mind lets people know you are serious.

Are there failures and setbacks along the way?  Of course!  But isn’t that the reason we need to be tough-minded?  It tells others you are a contender, and everybody loves a contender.  It tells you that you are a winner. Finishing strong is the end, but playing to win is the means to that end.

Extra effort is the differentiator.

Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, put it this way:

Nothing in the world can take the place of being tough-minded.  Talent will not—nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.  Genius will not—unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not—the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination are alone omnipotent.

The difference between a winner and a quitter is that one has a strong will, and the other has a strong won’t.

Is luck involved? Of course. But don’t embrace it. Luck is a fair-weather friend that shows up once in a while when it’s convenient.  Yet it is quick to abandon you.   It’s like the wind—here one minute, and blowing on someone else the next.  Tough-mindedness is the game changer, not luck.

Tough-mindedness means that you use failure as the fertilizer for future growth. When we get to the threshold of our comfort zones, we get tested.  This is how we learn in the lab of life.

Talent lights the flame.  Persistence keeps the flame burning.

So here’s a personal challenge. Quiet your mind and challenge the beliefs you hold about yourself that are holding you back.  What is beyond your grasp that you need to reach?  Bring your personal self-beliefs to the surface so you can challenge them.  Go ahead and step over the threshold of your comfort zone.  Expand your territory.  That’s called “the extra mile.”

And in the words of the late Wayne Dyer…

“It’s never crowded along the extra mile.”

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