Successful Leaders Need Mental Toughness And This Is Something Anyone Can Learn

Unit cell of the diamond cubic crystal structureImage via Wikipedia

My last post said that with practice you can learn to think positively and confidently about making changes.  You   can develop a resilient mindset.  This post takes this further and offers help!

People with inborn talent may be good at what they do—but experience shows that only the mentally tough reach the highest plateaus in their field.

Mental toughness is something anyone can learn.

Director of mental training for the St. Louis Cardinals and a top-tier executive coach, Dr. Jason Selk knows everything there is to know about developing mental toughness!

Inspired on the vision of legendary basketball coach John Wooden, Dr Selk has developed a program that is as simple as it is effective.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

You will have to put effort in if you are serious about being successful.  
But this is a great way to build up your mental “muscles.” 

Dr Selk provides hands-on daily exercises for breaking old, self-defeating patterns of behaviour.  You can replace them with the can-do attitude and positive behavior that would make Coach Wooden proud.

ExecutiveToughness outlines the three fundamentals for attaining high-level success:

  • ACCOUNTABILITY—admit to mistakes, correct them, and, most important, learn from them
  • FOCUS—on your strengths, on winning, on reaching your goal . . . for only 100 seconds per day
  • OPTIMISM—don’t just believe you can succeed, know you can succeed

Executive Toughness takes you through the steps of making these critical behaviours part of your everyday routine.

Practice your accountability, focus, and optimism!

Then,you’ll be on the path to attaining your goals!

Make them part of your mental “DNA” and there will be no turning back—ever.

ExecutiveToughness could be your workout for success in your career and in your life.
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Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Writer. 

She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review

You can contact Wendy at  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

Related articles

  • Becoming A Leader Today – What to give up! (
  • Are you a resilient leader? (
  • Business: Change Your Performance Mindset (

The Resilient Mindset – don’t let a fixed mindset defeat you.

Don’t change – stay right where you are”!

Nobody said change was easy.  Personal change is hard, so is changing an organization.  It is uncomfortable and risky.

That is why most of us don’t change until change is forced on us.

We don’t change; even when making a change could make a huge and positive difference for us and those about us.

Most of us have a mindset that favours staying put right where we are – a “fixed” mindset. And fixed mindsets lack resilience.

Standing still and staying where we are, can present far more danger and risk in the long term than making a change.

Changing that mindset

So how do you develop a resilient mindset?

You need to learn to challenge your own thinking.

Your fixed mindset will chatter away in your head, if you let it.  It will fill your head with negativity and erode your confidence.

The nasty fixed mindset will tell you that even if you wanted to change, you can’t do it!  You’re not bright enough! Your team isn’t strong enough!  You don’t have the brains or the talent!

This time you are going to answer back. 

“Well I’m certainly bright enough – if I see the need for change, I’m bright enough to do it.  I can learn and I can find people who can advise me.  I can learn and my team can learn!”

You fixed mindset will probably answer – “But what happens if and when you fail?

So here is your defence.  “Everyone fails sometimes.  But I’ll do it well and I’ll manage the risks – so I’ve got every chance of success”

“But” says your fixed mindset, “if you don’t make the change, you can’t fail.”

“No, but, if I don’t try, I’ve failed already!

Now your fixed mindset sneers and becomes cunning.  “Oh so it is going to be easy for you then!”

You smile wryly.  “No it isn’t going to be easy.  Nothing worth having comes easy. I’m going to do it”

Back into the shadows!

If you keep beating it back, at some point your fixed mindset will slink away into the shadows.  It won’t be dead.

It may emerge occasionally when you are feeling tired or frustrated.

But you have the upper hand now.  You know you have to find the energy to take up your sword and beat it back into the shadows again.

With practice you can learn to think positively and confidently about your change.  You will develop a resilient mindset

You can do it! You can make the change you desire – it is time to start believing. Reach for your sword and begin practicing.

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Writer. 

She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review

You can contact Wendy at  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114


  • Becoming A Leader Today – What to give up! (
  • Are you a resilient leader? (
  • Business: Change Your Performance Mindset (

The ability to bounce – coping with life's problems

Bouncing Boy
Image via Wikipedia

Losing your job can be a major blow to your self confidence and it can be difficult to bounce back.  This can be much worse if you are someone who has found it difficult to cope with life’s problems in the past

Coping with life’s problems successfully needs you to have realistic expectations. Psychologists call these expectations, and the judgements you make based on them, ‘appraisals’.  Things that happen to us aren’t a problem unless we judge them to be.

Life is never perfect and problems, including losing your job these days, are a part of normal, everyday life. If our judgements (appraisals) are realistic, we’re much better able to deal with them and not let them throw us off-balance.

The appraisals we make come from our belief system. If we hold unrealistic beliefs, then our judgements may not be the best for the situation.

Sometimes we have unrealistic beliefs about what we must or should do.  We want to be “perfect”.  “Everyone must like me “or “I’ve got to be good at everything” for example. If you think about these for a minute, they are irrational beliefs. Who do you know who could really achieve them?

Another approach!

When you are aware of this, it is possible to substitute an irrational judgement with something more positive?

If someone treats you rudely, you could think what a rotten person they are.  Or you could think “See, everyone does dislike me!”  But another view could be.  “I wonder what happened to that person today to make them behave like that?”

But it is important to follow up these ‘primary appraisals’!  We need to ask ourselves afterwards if there’s anything we can do about a particular event that has caused distress – a “secondary appraisal”.

If we feel helpless to change things, or incompetent when facing challenges, then we’re less likely to come up with a suitable way to handle things.


People who have a confident belief that the responses they make to life’s challenges have a meaningful effect (self efficacy), are able to face problems with energy!  This means they bounce back easily.

But how do you develop this belief?

Self-efficacy comes from life experiences and being with others who already have the belief. It’s built up over the years by responding to challenges with action, flexibility and persistence.

But how can we increase our self-efficacy?  Well here are some suggestions:

  1. Set some goals for your life. If we don’t have goals, how can we succeed? Set some goals for your life, and give yourself credit when you achieve them.
  2. Make your goals challenging but realistic enough so you’ll be able to reach them. Set some simple goals to start with, that are fairly easy to achieve and then build on them.
  3. Find some good role models. They don’t have to be someone you know, but find someone you admire and you could learn from.
  4. Talk yourself positive. Take time to observe how you think about yourself.  Start praising your success in your own mind and make a decision to stop putting yourself down.  Admit that, like all of us, you have faults and stop belittling yourself for them.  Instead build yourself up for the smallest successes.
  5. Remember it takes energy and effort to succeed.  Be like an athlete, train yourself to win


People with a good support system are more successful at overcoming life’s problems.

Are there people you can count on to listen to you when you need to talk? Can you speak to them frankly, without worrying about what you say? And are there people in your life you can count on to support you in major decisions?

Why not arrange to see old friends and family members.  You will find most people will take an interest in you if you show a real interest in them first.

Don’t wait for things to get better, take the first step – taking action gives us an increased feeling of competence and self-esteem. Taking action raises our self-efficacy!

Are you a resilient leader?

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity.  We need it in our personal  lives and we certainly need it at work! It means we can “bounce back” from difficult experiences.

Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. People usually show resilience but that doesn’t  mean they don’t experience difficulty.

Resilience isn’t necessarily something you are born with it – you learn how to show it.  Relationships that create warmth and trust, that provide role models, and offer encouragement and reassurance help bolster a person’s resilience.

Several additional factors are associated with resilience, including:

  • The ability to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out
  • A positive approach and confidence in yourself
  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving abilities
  • The ability to handle your own emotions

Not everyone reacts the same way to challenges.  An approach to building resilience that works for one person might not work for another.  A person’s culture probably has an impact on how he or she communicates feelings and deals with adversity

But here are some strategies for building your own resilience and encouraging it in those you lead.

  1. Develop strong connections with others!  Good relationships with other people mean that you can support each other.  This is particularly important in organizations going through difficulties – sometimes it is only team work that can pull you through!
  2. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You may not be able to change what has happened but you can change how you respond.  As the leader, this will affect how others respond. Keep your eye on the bigger picture and look beyond the present to how future circumstances will be better.
  3. Accept that change happens. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
  4. Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic and short term goals and start to move towards them.  That will inspire confidence in your ability to move towards your bigger goals and towards a time beyond the present problems.
  5. Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can and take decisive actions.  Don’t let people detach completely from problems and just wish they would just go away.
  6. Encourage people to look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves in difficult circumstances and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of the challenge.  Many people who have experienced difficulties have reported better relationships, a greater sense of strength (even while feeling vulnerable) and an  increased sense of self-worth.
  7. Encourage people to nurture a positive view of themselves. Developing confidence in their ability to solve problems and trusting their instincts helps build resilience.
  8. As the leader keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you and them to expect that the good times will come back.  In turn that probably will speed the time it takes to resolve the problem.

I am Wendy Mason and I work as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger.  I have worked with many different kinds of people going through personal  and career change. If you would like my help, please email me at or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439.  I will be very pleased to hear from you.