5 Ways Mental Toughness Improves Productivity
Say the words “mental toughness” to a room full of business people and most likely they wouldn’t visualize themselves.
Some may picture sports figures, such as ace pitchers, marathon runners or championship quarterbacks. Others may envision great leaders, famous innovators or people with indomitable spirits who weathered war, natural disasters or other terrible hardships.
No, they most likely wouldn’t imagine themselves as mentally tough. Why? Because their perception may be that mental toughness involves amazing individuals in extraordinary times. Not everyday business folk. But maybe this thinking should evolve.
In today’s digitized world, where information gushes at us through mobile spigots we hold in our hands, who needs a tougher mentality than a business person? After all, technology enables us to work together from any place, anywhere around the globe, at any time. Any hour of any day can become an opportunity to collaborate in today’s business environment —a situation that confronts each of us with the challenge of being productive on a daily, if not hourly, basis.
From this perspective, mental toughness isn’t just for a few bold souls enduring the roughest or darkest of times. Being mentally tough is for anyone preparing to make the most of a conference call or web meeting.
What is mental toughness in a business context?
In his column for Forbes, emotional intelligence guru Travis Bradberry writes that “mentally tough people set themselves apart from the crowd. Where others see impenetrable barriers, they see challenges to overcome.” Bradberry identifies 15 habits of what he calls “mentally strong people.” Here are five of those practices that lead to more productive business interactions in person, on the phone or online:
How mental toughness improves bunisess meetings:
1. The Mentally Tough are Relentlessly Positive
Bradberry believes mentally tough people “focus their energy on directing the two things that are completely within their power—their attention and their effort.” And as we’ve mentioned previously, positive colleagues bring the energy to inspire, the drive to motivate and the bearing to earn mutual respect to meetings.
2. Mental Toughness Allows You to Embrace Failure
In his post, Bradberry quotes Thomas Edison, who, after his factory burned to the ground in 1914, destroying unique prototypes and wreaking $23 million in damage, said: “Thank goodness all our mistakes were burned up. Now we can start fresh again.” Bradberry calls Edison’s reaction the “epitome of mental toughness” because it shows positivity and resilience. He writes that frustration is what forces us to think differently. Trials and errors are what “pave the way” to eventual success.
3. No Dwelling on Mistakes
Mentally tough people don’t fixate on problems they’re facing, according to Bradberry. “When you focus on actions to better yourself… you create a sense of personal efficacy,” which improves performance for individuals and groups.
4. The Mentally Tough Manage Negative Emotions Well
As pointed out in a recent blog post, “Discord among teammates, discontent in the wake of business decisions and disappointment with policy changes or new directions are among the ‘emotionally charged conversations’ that may arise during meetings.” And because, as Bradberry emphasizes, mentally tough people understand that emotions such as anger and frustration can “fuel the chaos,” they manage facial expressions, eye contact and gestures in meetings to help clarify complex issues, articulate nuanced positions and demonstrate emotional support.
5. The Mentally Tough are Comfortable Saying “No”
Mentally tough people “say no with confidence,” Bradberry writes, because they understand that “saying no to a new commitment honors their existing commitments.” This posture, in turn, affords them—and their colleagues—the opportunity to successfully fulfill existing commitments. Finishing what’s started thoroughly and completely is, perhaps, the essence of productivity in any setting.
In sum, Bradberry captures the nature of mental toughness best when he says it’s not an “innate quality bestowed upon a select few.” He stresses that it can be “achieved and enjoyed” by every business person every day in any interaction.