I (Elizabeth) used to think mental toughness had no place in my life as a clinician, educator, and researcher. That it was all about ultra-runners like David Goggins, extreme sports people like Jessica Watson, or elite athletes like Christine Burns.
Why would I need that level of mental toughness, when working with people, organisations, funding bodies, or systems?
I have discovered this is not true. Every one of us needs this higher level of resilience and can build and grow this, when we know how.
Don’t get me wrong. I was incredibly determined, resilient, and tough. Like the 6 months in 2010 when my closest brother died, my new work contract was pulled two weeks before I was planning to move countries to start the job, I had given notice on my home so was about to be homeless, I had given notice on my job – about to be jobless, and then my beautiful nephew died at age 25.
And I got through these. Relatively unscathed, even praised by one of the managers at work, for how impressed she was at my ability to continue doing my job and still support people in my role.
I had resilience, I had grit, I had determination! But over the past 10 years, I have discovered a whole new level of mental toughness that I can create that I never thought possible. And experienced the benefits of having this grow and develop every single day.
The way I have developed this is through consciously choosing my emotional, physical, and psychological state every single day. By realising the things I CAN control (as explained in our first blog on mental toughness this month), and learning to let go of the things I cannot. For me, this includes a meditation practice daily to deal with the high levels of stress in my life and the constant level of alert my body was facing internally.
I have begun moving and exercising every day – not because of those external things that tell us we “should” do this, but because I am purposefully and consciously cultivating my mental toughness (as described in last week’s blog).
I have never been sporty, and for me to achieve and enjoy physical activity, I had to change my mindset and instigate my abilities to follow through with action, on every single goal I set. I have long-term goals and work towards them every day, not fixated on the intended outcome so that I tie myself up in knots about it, but so I can head towards my laser focused goals.
FACT 97% of people do NOT have long-term goals.
They are reactive, performing for this year, or next year only, but not working towards long-term goals. I have set my end goals with passion and purpose, and then focus on my short-term goals, review these every week, and have a coach to help me set my mindset to achieve these – no matter how tough, uncomfortable, or tricky they may seem.
The beauty of living life with mental toughness that I CAN CONTROL, is enormous. I get to rise above the events of our time, I get to rise above the situations that rock me personally, I get to rise above the pettiness of hierarchy, narcissism, inequality, and discrimination – BECAUSE I CHOOSE TOO!
Mental toughness is ESSENTIAL for everyone in STEMM to develop. Don’t miss out on this number 1 skill that we can help you with.