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Mental Toughness: Tips to Control the Crazy and Enhance Performance

Mental Toughness: Tips to Control the Crazy and Enhance Performance

A year or so ago I purchased a mental toughness book, and I am so glad I did. I knew I’d need to build my mental muscle, but I had no idea we would experience a pandemic in Q1 of 2020.

To say that I was prepared for the rapid change we’re experiencing daily, the rising statistics associated with death, unemployment, etc. is a stretch. What I will say is that some of the principles I’ve applied within the last 18-24 months have definitely helped me manage day to day.

The reality is, building mental strength for women is different in comparison to our male counterparts. Amy Morin, mental strength trainer, author, and speaker whose TED Talk, The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong, has 12M views, cites three reasons for this:

  • Cultural expectations and gender norms.
  • Societal pressures.
  • Girls are raised differently than boys from childhood.

Before we can even begin to build mental strength, we have to first acknowledge and understand the power that lies in our thoughts. An interesting article by author Darrin Donnelly says that 40% of our thoughts focus on the future. Of those thoughts, 90% of them dwell on worrying about future concerns that never happen.

Everything follows your mindset. In knowing this, we as women have to make our mindsets work for us instead of against us.

So, what exactly is mental toughness? By definition, it is:

The ability to manage and overcome doubts, worries, concerns, and circumstances that prevent you from succeeding or excelling at a performance outcome you set out to achieve.

This is important because our thoughts shape our reality, and they definitely impact our performance.  If you’re going to control the crazy and exceed performance expectations, now is the time to consider these five tips.

1) Organize your mind.

Whether it’s a goal or a problem, identify the what, the why, and the how.

  • What is the goal or problem?
  • Why is this important?
  • How do I achieve the goal or desired outcome, or bring resolution to the issue?

[Related: You Are What You Think]

2) Think BIG.

You’re thinking anyway, so you may as well think big! Possibilities are limitless and so is your potential. This is true for yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Be fearless: No one knows everything, not before the coronavirus and not right now. Your expertise is needed more than ever, so focus!

By focusing on a single task and avoiding distractions, your brain becomes focused on that task alone. As a result, you’re able to complete the task more quickly in comparison to multi-tasking.

You also provide better quality and decrease mistakes, as your mind is dedicated to the task at hand. Might I add, your creativity is also sparked and new ideas are generated?

3) Embrace mistakes.

My coach once told me, “You learn in the doing,” and I’ve found that to be true. When you make mistakes:

  • Own them – no one is perfect.
  • Remember, mistakes help you gain perspective you wouldn’t have otherwise.
  • Learn from them and allow them to make you better.

[Related: The Biggest Mistake I Made in Business]

4) As you control the crazy, think win-win.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How does this decision help the organization?
  • How does this decision help clients and colleagues?
  • How does this decision help further my career?

5) Look for opportunities and seize them!

  1. Make a list of the top five opportunities identified by your organization and relevant to your role.
  2. Within 24 hours, make a decision to move forward on one of them.
  3. Incorporate strategy, take a calculated risk, and then demonstrate competence and confidence.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:

Nothing external to you has any power over you.

I am a firm believer that success is an inside job that always begins with a thought. Do yourself a favor and allow mental toughness to work for you, not against you.

[Related: Stop Being a Dutiful Student at Work]


Ericka Spradley is the Chief PowHer Officer/Founder of Confident Career Woman, which is the premier consulting firm for corporations and the mid-career professional woman who wants to advance, better manage her career, and go further faster. She is an advocate who partners with clients to help women ditch perfection, play bigger, and make PowHer Moves by: identifying their next role, creating a career strategy, offering ongoing career guidance, and coaching clients to master interviews. For additional information, visit:

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.

Community Discussion
Erin Keefer
Erin Keefer

This is clear and applicable. I'm organizing some ideas around how to support employees to "Show Up" with their best selves right now (if they are able to, of course), and this article helped get my thoughts straight. Thank you, Ericka!

Thursday, May 7 7:50 AM EDT