In a corporate environment the journey from the bottom to the top requires grit, determination and perseverance.
Fears are faced and tough decisions are made. We push past failures, recalibrate realities and manage focus whilst keeping our eyes wide open to the opportunity that exists outside the perimeter of the comfort zone.
Having the right ‘pit crew’ to keep you mentally tough and on track is key to continued success. The thing is this: mental toughness defines the leadership success game – of business and self.
For many, the higher up the ladder you go the lonelier it can become and those that survive are the mentally tough. Why? Because;
- Your network around you evolves as everyone wants to be your friend but few get access to your calendar
- Naysayers appear out of the woodwork
- Dream stealers attempt to shatter dreams
- Saboteurs attempt to squash plans
- The tall poppy syndrome runs rife
- Tension kicks in as attempts are made to slow you down, to keep you safe
- Conversations encourage you to do less, to be less, to learn less.
When the tension kicks in you need to dig deep and find that determination to keep going. You need to remain strong to keep the focus bright and the vision clear despite challenges along the way. You need to pull on your ‘Pit Crew’ to stretch, to push, to support, to leverage your future success, to work that mental toughness muscle.
In the report ‘Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals’, Angela Duckworth, an American psychologist, shares the story of cadets joining the US military academy at West Point and being put through their paces in the “Beast Barracks” initiative program – a program designed to test physical, emotional and mental strength; to find the best.
Whilst you would expect the bigger and smarter cadets to succeed, Duckworth found that it wasn't strength, smarts or leadership potential that saw cadets succeed - it was their grit and perseverance, their determination, their mental toughness.
In her TED talk “The Key To Success? Grit”, Duckworth says, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day-in, day-out. Not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years. And working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Your success requires mental toughness to navigate the complexities of growth as you zig and zag along the journey to success. Your success requires the support of a ‘pit crew’ of supporters, a network of strength, a team of believers to keep you focused and on track.
You need the teachers that will continue to help you develop mastery and knowledge, pushing you to know more. You need a crew that will keep you true and on track, nurturing and connecting, ensuring that you are ok, preventing emotions from getting the best of you. You need a team of promoters that will pull you towards your future dreams, making noise about potential possibilities and inspiring you to become more.
You need butt-kickers who will accelerate your journey, pushing you to do more and holding you accountable for your actions.
This pit crew will help you remain focused despite difficulties along the way; it will give you the tenacity to learn from mistakes and to quite simply keep going, because you can. They will help you be more emotionally resilient, pushing you to go further and harder, building belief and fuelling dreams.
Mental toughness defines whether you finish the leadership game on top or at the bottom. Make sure your ‘pit crew’ is right there beside you supporting you all the way to the finish line.
Janine Garner is the CEO of LBDGroup and author of From Me To We – Why commercial collaboration will future-proof business, leaders and personal success (Wiley).
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It can be a lonely journey as we climb the ladder of success.