One of the places that nearly every single player can build is mental toughness. I often refer to James Clear who writes amazing articles on finding personal greatness. Here is what he has to say on this topic of Building Mental Toughness.
Grit: A Brief Guide on Building Mental Toughness
by James Clear
If you want to become more mentally tough, then you'll want to read this article.
Grit is one of the hottest concepts in psychology right now. Researchers are talking about how athletes can develop more grit and mental toughness in their training, how teachers can foster greater grit in the classroom, and how individuals like you and I can build grit into our daily lives. In this short round up, I'm going to lay out a summary of what grit and mental toughness are and share a few of my best resources on the topic.
What is Grit?
First, let's define grit. In technical terms, grit is the perseverance and passion to achieve long–term goals. Sometimes you will hear grit referred to as mental toughness. Angela Duckworth, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the leading researcher on grit, suggests that grit is a strong predictor of success and ability to reach one's goals.
Duckworth's research on grit has shown that…
• West Point cadets who scored highest on the Grit Test were 60% more likely to succeed than their peers.
• Ivy League undergraduate students who had more grit also had higher GPAs than their peers — even though they had lower SAT scores and weren’t as “smart.”
• When comparing two people who are the same age but have different levels of education, grit (and not intelligence) more accurately predicts which one will be better educated.
• Competitors in the National Spelling Bee outperform their peers not because of IQ, but because of their grit and commitment to more consistent practice.
If you'd like to dive into the details, I wrote about Duckworth's research here.
For a video explanation, you can watch this short TED Talk, which explains the concept of grit and how it helps foster mental toughness in our everyday lives.
How to Be Mentally Strong
As a quick primer, let me lay out three simple steps to develop grit and become more mentally strong.
Step 1: Define what grit or mental toughness means for you.
For you, it might be…
For you, it might be…
• going one month without missing a workout
• delivering your work ahead of schedule for two days in a row
• calling one friend to catch up every Saturday this month
Whatever it is, be clear about what you’re going after.
Step 2: Build grit with small physical wins.
So often we think that grit is about how we respond to extreme situations, but what about everyday circumstances?
Mental toughness is like a muscle. It needs to be worked to grow and develop.
Choose to do the tenth rep when it would be easier to just do nine. Choose to create when it would be easier to consume. Choose to ask the extra question when it would be easier to accept. Prove to yourself — in a thousand tiny ways — that you have enough guts to get in the ring and do battle with life.
Step 3: Build strong habits and stop depending on motivation.
Grit isn’t about getting an incredible dose of inspiration or courage. It’s about building the daily habits that allow you to stick to a schedule and overcome challenges and distractions over and over and over again.
Mentally tough people don’t have to be more courageous, more talented, or more intelligent — just more consistent.
Grit comes down to your habits. It’s about doing the things you know you’re supposed to do on a more consistent basis. It’s about your dedication to daily practice and your ability to stick to a schedule.
Read more: How to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones
Examples of Grit
• Mentally tough athletes are more consistent than others. They don’t miss workouts. They don’t miss assignments. They always have their teammates back.
• Mentally tough leaders are more consistent than their peers. They have a clear goal that they work towards each day. They don’t let short–term profits, negative feedback, or hectic schedules prevent them from continuing the march towards their vision. They make a habit of building up the people around them — not just once, but over and over and over again.
• Mentally tough artists, writers, and employees deliver on a more consistent basis than most. They work on a schedule, not just when they feel motivated. They approach their work like a pro, not an amateur. They do the most important thing first and don’t shirk responsibilities.
3 Articles on How I Develop Grit
If you'd like to see additional resources like the best books to read on grit and mental toughness as well as a complete list of the articles I have written on these topics, then check out the grit category page here.