By being aware of every present moment experience, we can grow as leaders. Anchoring ourselves to the present helps lead us to discover new capabilities, skills and talents within ourselves. We can use these new discoveries to achieve our most important goals and priorities.
Mental toughness is the cornerstone used to create self-aware leaders. Mental toughness in business is defined as the ability to rebound from setbacks and disappointments. Mentally tough leaders deal effectively with stressors, pressures and challenges regardless of the circumstance or situation.
Mentally tough leaders draw on the quality of psychological preparedness. It’s this toughness that gets them through even when they feel they are close to folding under the pressure. This toughness pushes them through hard “bumps in the road” and helps them to respond intentionally, decisively and confidently to sudden and unforeseen challenges.
Mental toughness is a learned skill developed over time through experiences, intention and awareness. The more you know about yourself as a leader, the more effectively you can perform your job.
Here are the seven action steps toward building mental toughness as a self-aware leader. Graduating from one step to the next helps you grow in awareness of how your inner self and public personality can benefit from demonstrating mental toughness in your leadership role:
Action 1: Create a goal-directed life with a sense of purpose.
You do this by asking yourself, “What do I want?” State it in the positive and clarify your answer, see it in your mind’s eye, feel it, set milestones, and have a well-formed outcome. As journalist Lester Louis Brown said, “Shoot for the moon; even if you miss it you will land among the stars.”
Action 2: Believe you can achieve it.
Believing in yourself gets stronger and more powerful with each action step you take that gets you closer to what you want. David J. Schwartz, PhD, author of The Magic of Thinking Big, writes, “The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief.” Ask yourself, “What do I believe about myself?”
Action 3: Set high expectations for yourself.
When you do this, you are telling your mind to function at a higher level. A higher expectation gravitates to an improved self-esteem, higher self-worth, and turns desires into action.
Conversely, low expectations seek out compromise and poor self-image and tell your mind to function at a low capacity. I understand if you are hesitant to set high expectations. However, each milestone you achieve moves you closer to achieving your goal; in so doing, your hesitancy to develop high expectations gradually diminishes to be replaced with resolve.
Action 4: Prepare yourself to achieve your goal.
You do this by first deciding you want to grow in awareness in the first place. Self-preparation leads to the next horizon, which is your personal development mentally, spiritually, and emotionally of becoming what you want to be, want to have, and want to do. Any personal and professional change begins in the mind.
Action 5: Stay focused and never lose sight of your ultimate goal.
Keep a clear line of sight between your goal and expected outcome. This means you believe in your goal, you are committed to it, and you know what to do to achieve it. Always move toward accomplishing something.
Action 6: Be a lifelong learner.
Learn something new about your craft daily and intentionally practice it. Practice the new skill and apply the new knowledge until it becomes part of you. See all results as learning experiences, not failure. Abstain from being among the idle thinkers who think the skills they have now will be the same ones they will need when they achieve their goal.
Action 7: Practice self-reflection.
Self-reflection is at the core of how we manage ourselves and how we develop ourselves. When we reflect within ourselves, we have many assumptions of who we are and who we want to be. There are three reasons we should self-reflect:
- To know ourselves means we can plan and adjust to change, make changes, and take informed actions.
- We have a better sense of self, of how others see us, and how we see ourselves and can change our opinion of ourselves.
- We lead from within to stay grounded in authenticity and have the ability to cope with the demands of life as they come.