Facing Challenges? 14 Things that Mentally Tough People Do

You have all heard that Success is a Journey. Sometimes however (many times actually) that journey towards developing a successful career or business is riddled with obstacles, challenges and otherwise seemingly insurmountable adversities that can be a knock out blow for most. It’s during these times that the journey doesn’t feel quite like a success or even an enjoyable experience.

What is the difference between those that succumb to these setbacks and challenges and those that overcome? Jon Gordon in his book Training Camp outlines some keys to handling such adversities. These may not be all the answers but here are 14 things mentally tough people do, that others do not:

1. When you face a setback, think of it as a defining moment that will lead to a future accomplishment.
Most people, when they experience a bad setback, or something that throws them off course and knocks them down, simply fizzle up and end things.

Instead, what the strong-willed and mentally tough do is use that setback as a learning experience and as motivation. They see the challenge and setback that they are experiencing and allow it to guide them in a different direction.

Typically, this will come in the form of a bad failure.

A person tries something, and fails miserably, and instead of thinking of it as a horrible loss that proves God is out to get them, the mentally tough see it as an opportunity to learn something about themselves and about life, and allow it to guide them in a direction that will eventually produce an accomplishment.

Success is a journey with many setbacks; So view these setbacks as defining moments on your journey.

2. When you encounter adversity embrace it; think of it as a detour to something better.
Similar to the first principle, you can’t fight adversity. It will come your way in all shapes and forms and if you try to avoid it and ignore it, it will simply bite you in the butt.

Instead, accept it and learn to use it to the best of your ability.

If you find yourself going a little off course from your original plan or vision due to adversity, perhaps it is a short detour that is helping you change directions of your vision to something more prestigious.

3. When you face negative people, remember the people who believed in you and spoke positive words to you.
Anyone who is striving for something great is going to encounter many nay-sayers along the way.

Whether it’s out of jealousy, bitterness, or regret, some people are just going to get enjoyment out of cutting you down and trying to stomp all over your dreams. This is inevitable and the farther you get along your journey and the closer you get to success, the more negative people you will face; and the stronger their words will get.

So when you hear some words these nay-sayers and they try to cut you down, you’ll be tempted to second guess yourself and your goals. Negative people are at finding logic inwhy things won’t work.

When you face negativity, think back to the people who believe in you and encouraged you along the way. For every person who doesn’t believe in you, there is someone who does.

Focus on the person who does believe in you. Spend a lot of time with those people, and think back to their words of encouragement when you are in times of doubt.

4. When you face critics, tune them out and focus on doing your best.
Along your journey to success, you’ll face a lot of critics who will not only produce negativity, but will also pressure you and expect things from you that you may not be ready for.

They try to push your journey at a faster pace than you want, hoping you lose some wheels and stumble down. But it’s important to tune out all these critics. They are only outside gossipers and they don’t actually have a tangible influence on the outcome; as long as you don’t let them.

Ignore them, and they won’t have any affect. Just do the best you can day in and day out, and you will be the best.

5. When you fail, find a lesson in it; then proceed to think about a past success.
More failure. Are you seeing a common theme here with this mental toughness stuff?

When you fail at something, which you will often, look at the situation and experience and find something you learned. Find one thing you will take into your next experience and one thing that will help you be more successful in the future.

Then forget about the failure as soon as possible, and focus your mind on a previous success.

Too many people beat themselves up over a failure, but you should try not to waste energy on those thoughts. Instead, visualize a past success, and think about what you did to create it. Feel the confidence that success visualization provides.

6. When you feel all is impossible, know that with God all things are possible.

After all you are distinct, one of a kind, created for a purpose. That knowledge alone should give most of us the fortitude to overcome almost anything.

King David said “..and I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt. ” Psalm 139:14 CEV

7. When you are going into the game, visualize success.

As Jon Gordon advocates, “What we focus on we attract in our lives”.

Focus your mind on exactly what you want to accomplish and see yourself accomplishing it.

8. Focus your energy on the present moment and stop worrying about the past or the future.
This is something I’ve heard and read quite a bit about. When we spend our time thinking about the past, we are losing energy that could be focused on working hard in the present moment.

Life is lived in the present moment. Success is created by hours and hours of focus on the present task at hand.

Yes, you should spend time visualizing, and thinking about what you want. And yes, thinking about a past success is necessary at times to retain confidence during times of failure and rejection.

But the majority of your energy should be focused on the present moment, and the task that is going to move you a little closer to your end vision.

“Focus on the moment…with an eye on your vision” -Jon Gordon

9. When you feel lost, pray for guidance.

If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

10. Don’t complain, find a solution.

Who likes a complainer?? When’s the last time you came home and said, “I met the coolest lady today. She complained to me for an hour about how crappy her life was.”

Mr. Gordon has another book called “The No Complaining Rule”. Instead of focusing on complaining about problems, we should focus on finding a solution for that problem.

Someone who is productive, successful, and happy has plenty of problems to deal with. But they don’t look at them as severe problems that will ruin their day (or their life). They are temporary bugs that need to be dealt with.

And that’s what mentally tough people do.

They don’t have time to sit around and complain to others and to themselves about their problems. they are too busy fixing the problem and moving on the more crucial aspects that need to be dealt with…like growth.

You won’t have time to grow if you are too busy complaining about your current problems.

11. When you feel lonely, think of the people who helped you on your journey and continue to love & support you.
The journey to success can be lonely.

At times you will feel like you are the only one who cares and that what you are doing doesn’t mean anything to anybody else. It’s not true.

You have high goals, and big dreams….much bigger than most people. But there are always going to be plenty of encouragers and people who will give you support and unconditional love at all times.

Turn to your family and your close friends at times of loneliness and ask them to remind you why you are doing what you are doing. Are they are close enough to you, they will know exactly how to pick you up.

12. When you feel tired, do what it takes to finish what you start. Never, never, never give up.

Finish strong. See it through. Their will be times when you will feel exhausted and tired and want to give up.

In these times, mentally weak people throw in the towel and call the quits. It’s too hard.

But mentally tough people dig within themselves and find every ounce of motivation to finish the task at hand. It doesn’t mean they won’t take a break afterwards, but before they throw in the towel, they give it every ounce of energy to finish what they start and get the job done.


13. Focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t.
This one is always tough, because it gives me so much trouble personally.

Why is letting go so hard?? I’m not really sure why, but for some reason, human nature hangs on to the past and focuses way too much on things that don’t matter.

Better yet, they focus on things that are out of their control. How crazy is that?? (We humans are insane at times, but hey..you gotta love us!)

We should all strive to spend as little energy as possible on thinking about uncontrollable factors and instead focus that energy on things we can control.

We need go places where we can make difference, and avoid places where we will not make a difference at all.

This is a tough one, but mentally tough people have become masters of emotionally and physically letting go.

14. When you are under pressure, have fun and act as if you have nothing to lose.

Finally, everyone’s favorite. When you experience that nasty pressure (public speaking anyone?), and feel like you must perform with elegance or you are doomed, remember why you worked so hard to get where you are.

Remember the fun you had on your journey and that the outcome is not nearly as important as the process. Handling pressure is another part of the process, and you should try to enjoy it as much as possible.

Don’t focus on the outcome, just relax and enjoy every moment of the journey.



Closing Thought

“When your mind says give up, hope whispers one more try.”

Next time you are tempted to give up and throw in the towel, make the conscious decision to give it one more try.



Thanks to Jon Gordon for the continual insights in this area and for the original inspiration. Excerpts From: Gordon, Jon. “Training Camp.” John Wiley & Sons, 2013-04-26. iBooks.

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