At the 2016 Summer Olympics, North Korean weightlifter Om Yun-Col, the defending champ, broke the men’s world’s record in the 56-kilogram weight class.
He managed 372.5 pounds in the clean and jerk. Amazing … and short-lived. Within minutes, Long Qingquan of China cleared 374.7 pounds to take the gold medal.
Obviously, both those men had tremendous physical strength. But they also had mental strength. They were focused, tenacious and determined.
Mental toughness isn’t reserved for athletes. It’s effective even outside the Olympic Games to help find success in many aspects of life.
Here are 8 simple reasons as to why you need mental strength to become successful:
1. Control Counts
Successful people act like they’re in control even when they’re not.
This isn’t like Secretary of State Alexander Haig unilaterally — and mistakenly — declaring he was in charge of the White House when President Ronald Regan was shot. It’s about remaining calm and collected even in the face of adversity.
Don’t depend on luck.
It may or may not show up at the right moment. Luck is quirky that way. Mentally tough individuals keep striving, no matter what stumbling blocks show up. Step around them, over them, kick them out of the way. Do whatever works.
2. Whining Wastes Time
When you’re striving for a goal, you don’t have all the time in the world.
You have a window of opportunity. It could be small, could be large, but it’s not infinite. People who are mentally strong, therefore, spend most of their time acting, not reacting. Setbacks happen to every achiever. A constructive response gets you back on track.
That means no whining, complaining, or criticizing. Don’t spend valuable time and energy grumbling. Go ahead; take a moment to acknowledge the obstacle. Okay … done! Now focus on overcoming it.
3. Mistakes Are Manageable
News flash — you’re human. Everyone is. That means everyone makes mistakes. However, not everyone lets them interfere with success. Dwelling on mistakes, reliving them and worrying about them won’t help you get ahead.
Neither will ignoring them.
Trying to hide a blunder makes matters worse when it eventually gets noticed, and it always gets noticed. The cover-up is inevitably worse than the slip-up.
Find the middle ground. People with mental toughness examine their errors, learn from them, adjust their behavior and move on. You can’t change the past, but you don’t have to let it define you. Let it guide you, and you won’t make the same misstep in the future.
4. Trust Is Total
Successful people are sure they’ll reach their goals in the end, even though mistakes and failures are bound to happen along the way.
This self-confidence takes mental strength. If you believe in your abilities, you’ll have the perseverance to push through when the going gets tough. You know you’re up to the task.
A big part of being self-assured is surrounding yourself with people who also believe in you. Naysayers chip away at confidence and can derail success. It’s easier to remain strong with supportive friends, family and colleagues.
5. Innovation Is In
Successful people see many options. Some of those roads are less traveled and even a little scary. It takes mental toughness to push past the uncertainty, leave familiarity behind and blaze new trails.
Achievers don’t say, “Well, we’ve always done it this way.” They look for fresh options that lead to improved practices and solutions. The status quo is a starting point, not a finish line.
Being in uncharted territories is often uncomfortable. Without mental strength, you start doubting yourself.
You may even choose to double back and return to the well-worn path. That’ll only take you as far as everyone else has gone. It won’t get you ahead. To be successful, you have to step away from the ordinary and put your toes on the cutting edge.
6. Willingness to Work
Success requires time on task — a lot of it.
Mental strength helps you stay on target and put in the hours needed to reach your goal. If you’re realistic, you know there’s no such thing as an overnight success.
Being tough lets you stay focused and determined after other people would have given up.
Without hours and hours and hours of practice, those Olympic weightlifters would never have made it onto the podium. They accepted that condition and persevered. Successful people aren’t always looking for the easy way out. Truly valuable shortcuts are few and far between.
7. Empowered to Give Back
Most people who feel moved to ‘give back’ to their communities are people who feel empowered enough to make a difference. The initiative to give back improves mental strength through positive efforts.
For instance, volunteering can help you gain self-confidence, feel more socially-connected and help you become less susceptible to feeling isolation or depression. The feeling of gratitude you gain from helping out helps you reach another level of mental strength.
8. Blocking the Noise
Texts, email, video, news-feeds, even real live conversation — the day is full of potential distractions. To achieve your goal, you need to block out interference. It’s not easy when you’re being bombarded with electronic input.
That’s where mental strength comes in. It’s what lets you turn the ringer down on your phone and quiet your text message alerts. It keeps you from overdosing on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest when you’re bored.
Even hardworking, successful people need breaks. Stepping away from a task is a good strategy to get you recharged and refocused.
Mental toughness, though, brings you back from recess when time is up. It doesn’t let you stay out on the electronic playground too long. Ten minutes of surfing for cute kitten pictures, a brisk walk, a chat with friends, then it’s back to business.