Mental toughness and running a small business

perseverance and mental toughness in businessWhat is mental toughness, you may well ask?

It's one of those qualities many of us are able to readily recognise in our sporting heroes - whether it's tennis, football, soccer, basketball or athletics. They embody the ability to hang in there and persevere, even though they're being out-scored or out-pointed by their competition.

We admire them for their tenacity to keep on fighting, despite "the odds" being against them. They have that mental toughness to avoid letting any thoughts of defeat or despair take hold. They steadfastly refuse to allow any fear of failure to paralyse them and prevent them from whole-heartedly continuing to compete.

They continue to push themselves to the limits of their capabilities - consistently striving to find ways of improving their performance.

Business and sport share much in common
Running a small business and playing competitive sport both require you to be aware of your competitors. Your success will be measured not just by the quality of your own decisions and actions - but also by how these compare to those of your competitors.

You enter the game with a goal and a particular strategy in mind .... But circumstances can change, the playing conditions can turn out to be quite different to what you'd anticipated - and so you you've got to be able to adapt.

In sport, we've seen numerous instances where the player with more heart beats the player with more "natural ability". In business, we've seen the same dynamic where the entrepreneur with greater "grit" achieves more success than the one with more so-called "intelligence"

Sometimes, you'll make mistakes ....... You make the wrong decision - or your execution on part of the plan was flawed. ....... Yep, even the best players will sometimes get it wrong - and so too have business people like Steve Jobs and Walt Disney and Richard Branson

But the one's with mental toughness bounce back. They learn from their mistakes - and then start moving forward again.. 

And when you're running a small business, like when you're competing in sport, you've got to be able to "read the game" and be willing to change your game-plan when it proves necessary ....... You've got to be able to admit when something's not working - which takes some humility - before you can begin to turn things around  ........Not everyone can do this. By the way, you might be interested in some tips on related topics like Self-Motivation and also Focus

So, what are some keys that can help you to develop your mental toughness? Here are seven ....

  1. Decide what you need to focus your attention upon - clarify your goal or your priority. Avoid letting distractions get in the way and diverting your attention from what is important
  2. Expect there will likely be some set-backs along the way - but view these as temporary. Remain optimistic that you can turn things around by learning, growing and improving. When problems arise, focus on finding a solution rather than becoming immersed in the effects of the problem 
  3. Identify in difficult situations what is within your control - and what is beyond your control. Don't waste time and effort worrying about those things outside of your control
  4. To be successful in business, like sport, you need to be well trained. And then learn to trust your training, trust your process, when the pressure is on. So ensure that you've invested time and effort in regular and consistent training that develops your business skills over time - and which in turn will help to foster your self-belief
  5. Motivation can sometimes wane - but developing good business routines, systems and self-disciplines leads to consistency of performance. Mental toughness is developed by consistently doing the things that you know you should do
  6. Avoid allowing your mind to dwell on mistakes - by all means you've got to learn from them - but then it's about drawing a line in the sand and moving forward
  7. Remind yourself of some of your achievements, so as renew your faith in the strengths and capabilities that you posses, that will enable you to get through any difficult times
Here's a short video clip that offers tips for athletes on how to develop mental toughness - offering some good insight into how your mind can be either a friend or a foe and affect your performance.... . I think ALL of the tips are equally relevant if you are running a small business  See what you think ....


About the author
Brian Carroll is the founder of Performance Development, a training business in Melbourne, Australia.  He is an experienced management coach with a passion for helping people achieve their goals in life and business. You can find out more about Brian at his Google + profile

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