I have been self-employed and an entrepreneur almost my entire life. There are many challenges that come with being self-employed, but one of the greatest benefits is the mental toughness and stamina it nurtures. It is a fact that sheer tenacity is a surefire way to reach our potential and beat out the competition, and entrepreneurs represent the epitome of grit and determination. Many have taken plenty of hits yet manage to get up and dust their shoulders off repeatedly, and that is the pivotal sweet spot where wisdom and resilience flourishes.
Some entrepreneurs are born, others are made. In fact, most entrepreneurs I talk to can remember being resourceful and industrious as children. Many were budding little business owners as children, running their own lemonade stands, having yard sales, and selling candy at school. However, entrepreneurial traits can be learned if you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone. Whether you are an entrepreneur, want to be an entrepreneur or have no desire to ever run you own business, the skills you can learn from an entrepreneur can improve just about every aspect of your life. Here are a few of my personal tips that apply to anyone looking to improve their mental toughness and perseverance -regardless of your industry.
This is a huge one. Of course, we’re always hearing about how we need to stay active, but there’s a big difference between working out for fitness and working out to condition not just your body, but your mind. Sure, you can go to the gym and run on the treadmill for 30 minutes and get on with your day, but all you’re doing is burning calories. If you want to get a real mental and physical workout, do a really challenging activity that pushes you beyond your limits. Think of fitness as a way to strengthen your mind as well. My preference is martial arts, because it involves training your mind as well as your body, but many people enjoy Crossfit, Tabata, boot camp, and plyometrics. Whatever workout you do, make sure it kicks your butt and takes you beyond what you thought you were capable of. This makes you incredibly mentally and physically strong, and that will roll over into everything else in your life.
No, I don’t mean by base jumping or doing something irresponsible, I mean challenge yourself with something that sets off the fear of rejection, failure, or embarrassment. Push the envelope and get uncomfortable. If you’re not taking risks and scaring yourself regularly, you will stay at about the same point. You will not grow. It’s only when we dare to try something uncomfortable that we can make huge progress. Also, when you scare yourself and face your greatest fears of failure and rejection and you realize it didn’t kill you, it makes you unstoppable. Once you’ve looked adversity straight in the eye, you become bolder, smarter, stronger, and ultimately more successful.
I’m serious. More and more studies are being released about the alarming health consequences of not getting enough sleep. Not only can exhaustion cause you to make poorer decisions, but it reduces your creativity and quality of work, and it can prematurely age you and cause weight gain. It can also make everything seem catastrophic. Have you ever noticed how everything seems like a much bigger deal when you’re tired? Have you ever met a more unpleasant person than a grump who is over-extended and exhausted? The most rational mind is a rested mind. Your body and brain needs to rest. You can’t expect to have long-term physical and mental stamina when you don’t give your body the downtime it needs.
Dirt Off Your Shoulders
Yes, as in the Jay-Z song. Go ahead and add that to your playlist. Here’s the thing; if you’re at all different, stepping out of a societal comfort zone, or challenging any sort of norm (which most people who accomplish incredible things do) you’re going to deal with some “haters.” Most people who have reached their potential have dealt with negative people at some point, and the more successful you become the more you may deal with it. People have so many opinions, and ironically you’ll find the more insecure and the more they are not living their own dreams, the more critical they will be of everyone else. Please, please do not let these negative people get under your skin. The problem they have is with themselves; it’s not about you. Just keep your head up, keep doing your best, and do not let these people affect your confidence. There is no need to retaliate or take yourself down to their level. In fact, take it as a cue to do even better when you encounter negative people.
Always Be Learning
The day we think we know everything is the day we stop growing. The truth is, none of us know everything. Not even the smartest people in the world know everything. Historically humans have made many mistakes and many advances, so no matter how smart we think we are, there is always more knowledge to be gained. Be humble, open-minded, and always be willing to listen and learn. The more knowledge you have in your toolbox, the more you have to offer. Whether it’s listening to podcasts, reading, or taking online courses, expand your mind and skillset. This will help keep your brain sharp and add to your confidence in your abilities.
Action, Action, Action
I’ve said this so many times, but I’ll say it again: it’s inaction and procrastination that causes the most stress, not taking action. One action leads to another. Most of us have a laundry list of things that need to get done. When we look at our to-do list as a big stressful mass of responsibilities rather than individual executable tasks, it makes getting things done much harder. Taking action makes you stronger and more motivated. It doesn’t matter how small the action is, it gets the ball rolling and builds confidence. So, start taking action right now. Nothing is too small to get you started.
photo credit: RondaRousey.net
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