Yesterday, during practice 87 with a team grappling mostly with themselves, we talked about building mental toughness together. Mental toughness, in a nutshell, is ones ability to control the human stress response. In essence the mentally tough control themselves. Yesterday we heard from a few brutally honest teammates that they lack control of their mind. This is difficult to admit to oneself, much less to fifty of your closest friends, colleagues, and fellow competitors. Admitting to ourselves that we have a problem, however, is a biggish step itself. In fact, it is the root of what may become deep, lasting change.
None of us is Spock, friend. None of us is an emotion free zone. Thank God. Emotions are meant to move us and without them our rational mind would just keep looking for one more rationale before deciding to do anything. We want our athletes, teammates, and ourselves to find the sweet spot where our two minds, if you will, are in perfect harmony – not over thinking things (ruminating) and not under thinking stuff either (knee jerk reacting). Our job, leaders, is to help those around us figure this out for themselves and to keep making them do what they can, by stretching, not settling.
Yesterday we esteemed a few in our attempt to build their sense of belief. This is good. However, leaders, giving the team your esteem is not enough. You see, nothing builds strength within like you esteeming you. Build this one, friends. Nothing controls the human stress response quite like a humans strong sense of self. Fact. You control your stress response. This is a learned skill and it starts with you admitting to yourself that you too experience being overwhelmed and on tilt. Once you admit this, you can start to see your triggers for allowing your emotions to overwhelm your rational mind. Breathe. The human stress response is controlled by you. Start by controlling your breathe and watch the body follow suit. Mental toughness is a skill. Build this now, please.