One of the things that most people say they want is to be successful and one of the common mistakes most people make is to believe that if they could just find the right strategy, then everything else would fall into place.
What we’ve learned is that it rarely is the strategy that makes the biggest difference in terms of your success. What matters most to your success is your ability to self regulate.
What do I mean by self regulate? What I mean is your ability to manage the thoughts you have, manage the feelings you have and manage the actions you take for your highest good and for the highest good of the people around you.
The challenge that most of us face is that we never learned how to develop an intentional mental model to use when we become emotionally challenged. Instead, we often use modeling that we learned from a very young age with mixed results. I am going to share with you the model I used to not only become a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, but that I still use to help me be successful at home and at work.
So there I was sitting against a wall of our dojang on December 11, 2015 gasping for breath. We had just went through 2 hours of demonstrating 13 forms, displaying 12 combos and sparring 5 people in 2 minute rounds each. In addition to ripper 60’s of pushups and situps, we were demonstrating why we should earn our black belts. At that moment, I was feeling defeated. I just felt that I didn’t have it anymore: the energy, the focus, the drive … it was all gone. I was spent and I still had a 5 station break to do. (A five-station break is breaking 5 boards with a different hand or foot technique without stopping and in sequence.)
I just didn’t feel confident and I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to fail in front of all of those people. I had come so far… I battled back from injury to be in this moment and I was embarrassed and ashamed of myself. I was seriously considering quitting. But I just couldn’t, I couldn’t back down after investing so many years of struggle to get there. I couldn’t back down now with my family watching and cheering me on, and as I was going back and forth on what I should do, when they called my name up. You could say my brain wasn’t focused on winning, my brain was focused on ending the struggle.
But I responded as I had so many times before. I stepped up onto the mats and went through the motions. Training does that to you. Even if your mind says I don’t know, your body will show you the way if you have trained well. I focused on my breath and cleared my mind as best I could. The thought I had right then was I need this — I NEED to do this. “How can I go home empty handed now when the end is in sight. I remember thinking, “Here we go…”
The first two breaks were fairly easy and I was encouraged by the momentum of the first two. But when I hit the third – a simple, spinning back kick, I couldn’t break it. So I go a second, third, fourth, fifth time. And I just can’t believe it, right? After all this time and effort, one of the easiest breaks to do and I can’t break it?!
I looked at our head instructor with disbelief and all he said was, “Finish it.” What happened is that I got angry and when you get angry, you can access some personal power. I wasn’t going to let this kick defeat me – not on this day. So I gathered all the strength I could muster and went off. I blazed through the last boards and I emerged victorious. But the funny thing was, it wasn’t the strength of my body that helped me get through it. I had struggled to the very threshold of physical exhaustion. What got me through was my resolve – it was my commitment and it was my decision that I wasn’t leaving the mats till every one of those boards was broken.
Success is 80% mindset and 20% skill set, and yet, we spend more time focusing on the strategy we need than in training our minds to handle doubt and disappointment— Christine Jeffrey
That kind of mental discipline doesn’t just happen, it is trained into you and it is a skill that you can develop. So I have put together the process that worked for me and my hope is that it will work for you, too!
HOW TO GET MENTALLY STRONG
- Connect to why you must do it – Who needs to see you win? Why do you want to do this goal in the first place? What is it that will make you persevere even when it gets hard? For me, it was my family watching and my self respect. What is it for you?
- Recognize how strength feels in your body – When you train hard physically, you are able to recognize your strength, because it is tested every time you participate in that activity. But how do you know what emotional strength feels like? Create physical equivalents. For example, hold your arms up. Now keep them there. Keep them there and notice when your muscless start to feel heavy and you’ll want to drop them down. Don’t do it. Don’t give into that feeling. Notice that. That is your pereseverance muscle. The more you practice it, the stronger it gets. Once you recognize it, you can use it when you need to, because you know what it feels like.
- Set the intention to focus on the task at hand – This is what meditation practice is for. You direct your attention to that task and you concentrate on that task. The more you practice the better you get at focus.
- Allow no distraction to pull your attention off task – When you feel your attention being pulled to something else,like doubt or disappointment, reengage your focus. Remember when I started running through the different consequences if I quit my black belt test? My focus was reengaged when I got angry and decided I wasn’t going to be defeated by a simple kick. What could you do to reengage your focus when you experience doubt or disappointment? The more you practice reengaging your focus, the better you get at it controlling your attention.
By using these 4 steps and practicing them, you can develop the mental focus and stamina you need to take back control of your mind and make it go to work for you. Try this process for yourself. The more you practice this model, the better you get at it. Repetition makes you good at something, but more importantly, repetition helps you automate the process. When you automate the process, you can cue your mental strength on demand.
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I want to encourage you to apply. The questionnaire, itself, is a great self discovery tool and may help you think more clearly about who you are and how you are showing up in the world. As always, if you are the type of person who is a good fit for the program, you will get the strategy session to try it out for free.
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Thank you so much for reading and until next time,
Remember, you are so much more than who you believe yourself to be!