Developing Mental Toughness in Your Work and Life

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“When you face adversity you need to be mentally tough.  What’s holding you back?  It’s all mental.”

Former baseball player Matt Phillips remembers hearing about mental toughness as he was developing his athletic career.

“I often found myself asking what does that mean?  What do I need to do to mentally push through that?”

Looking back, Phillips said he realized there was a gap.  He didn’t know how to harness the mental side and improve his self confidence.  He started a Colorado based company called Pro Athlete Advantage which is focused, at the core, on helping high school, collegiate, and professional athletes understand what mental toughness tools are — and how to take that power and apply it to your sport.

Phillips has since expanded beyond working just with athletes.  He now teaches mental toughness to business leaders as well.

To Phillips, mental toughness consists of four things: confidence, focus, control and perseverance.

Confidence is being able to look into the mirror and be proud of who is staring back at you.

Focus is not allowing distractions to take us away from what is most important.

Control is all about keeping emotions in check.  Phillips is a believer that in sports, and in business, emotions should be kept in.  “Emotions are fuel, they are fire, they are passion.  But it is all about how you channel them,” Phillips says.  “You could be angry or frustrated and that could hold you back.  You could also be extremely happy and that can hold you back.”   He likes to ask people how they will channel all of those emotions into those things that will move them forward toward achieving specific goals.

Perseverance, quite simply, is the ability to get back up when you get knocked down.

Phillips cites Derek Jeter as a great example of mental toughness.  “His mental approach, the way he would prepare for games, control himself emotionally, you can look at him and see his confidence and focus.  He doesn’t let the little things bother him.”

“When you think about achieving success,” Phillips says, “you have to continue to take action to move forward.”