Mental toughness.

November 4th, 2009

“Mental toughness is to physical as four is to one.”
~ Bobby Knight ~

In case it’s not obvious, I’m the ‘thinky’ type. In my line(s) of work, being smart and intellectual is like being athletically gifted and skilled in sports.

But being athletically gifted, and even being highly skilled, aren’t enough to dictate success on the playing field. The best competitors, regardless of sport, are those who have the best combination of athleticism, skill, and other qualities — psychological qualities — to help them succeed.

Sometimes, great physical attributes come together with great mental attributes, and you get Pele or Tiger Woods or Donald Bradman or Pete Sampras. But many of the greatest sports heroes were notable more for their mental attributes — especially tough-mindedness — than for their physical gifts. (Case in point: Jerry Rice.)

The more I travel through this life, the more I come to believe that talent is a shallow attribute. Great, the kid is a talented Little Leaguer. Great, the marketing VP is really smart. It doesn’t mean much until you see how those talents play out — how the person puts them to use — and that relies much more on mental approach to the task than it does to talent for the task.

So, for now I’ll just say that I’m working on my mental toughness, and doing it methodically. In a later post, I’ll spell out my approach.

What do you think? Is mental toughness as important as I make it out to be?


(Photo source.)

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