One of the things most people say they want is success — they believe that if they could just find the right strategy, then everything else would fall into place.
But is it? Is it really another strategy that we need to get what we want?
What I’ve learned is that it rarely is the strategy that makes the biggest difference in terms of your successes. What matters most to your success is your ability to self regulate.
SELF REGULATE: The ability to manage the thoughts you have, to manage the feelings you have and to manage the actions you take is the secret sauce of success.
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.
CASE IN POINT:
So there I was sitting with my back against the wall of our dojang on December 11, 2015 gasping for breath. We had just completed 2 hours of demonstrating 13 forms, 12 combos and sparred 5 people in 2 minute rounds each. In addition to ripper 60’s of pushups and sit-ups, we were proving why we should earn our black belts. At that moment, I felt defeated. 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, and yet, I also didn’t want to fail in front of all of those people. I had come so far… I battled back from an injury to be in this moment and I was seriously considering quitting! What was wrong with me? However, I couldn’t back down after investing so many years of struggle to get there. Could I? 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, 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. Instead of focusing on fatigue and doubt, I focused on my breath and cleared my mind. 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. 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 couldn’t believe it! After all this time and effort, I can’t break it?!
I looked at our head instructor with disbelief and all he said was, “Finish it.” That’s when 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 that I wasn’t leaving the mats till every one of those boards was broken.
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.A Challenger said this
That kind of mental discipline doesn’t just happen, it is trained 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?
- 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. Notice when your they start to feel heavy and you’ll want to drop them down — BUT DON’T! Don’t give into that feeling. Notice that. That is your perseverance muscle. The more you practice it, the stronger it gets.
- 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, re-engage your focus. What could you do to reengage your focus when you experience doubt or disappointment? The more you practice re-engaging 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. The more you practice this model, the better you get at it.
If you enjoyed this article and want more, subscribe to my email list and each week you will receive my latest blog post with free tips, tools, and strategies that get you more clarity, help you develop more courage, and inspire you to step out in your life in a bolder way.
And if you want even more, I still have 1 spot left in this round of high performance coaching. You can click this link to Learn more about High Performance Coaching. 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.
Thank you so much for reading and until next time, make the most out of the time you have!
With love and respect,