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Mental toughness, fortitude and resilience…are these necessary for great leadership?

This blog begins with some questions to get you to think and reflect on your leadership.

  • Do you have the mental fortitude to succeed as a leader and in business?
  • Do strong leaders need to be mentally ‘tough’
  • Can great leaders be mentally tough yet empathetic?
  • Is mental fortitude more important than aptitude and attitude? 
  • If you are the most talented (aptitude) and you have the best, most positive attitude yet you have low mental toughness, can you still be successful?  Most likely not…fortitude is a necessary part of the success formula.

Fortitude is the courage to persevere in times of adversity or failure.  With it comes resilience and the ability to bounce back and learn from failure or a challenging situation.

  • Have you ever worked with someone who seems to be able to keep going and stay motivated when everything seems to be falling apart?   That person has mental fortitude – the strength to remain focused on the goals and to start over if necessary in order to achieve the goals.

Are you thinking “I wish I was more mentally tough”?  The great news is that we are not born with fortitude, we develop fortitude.   We are able to improve our mental fortitude just like our physical fortitude or our physical strength can be improved by working out, lifting weights, focusing on our fitness, our mental fortitude can also improve with consistent workouts of our ‘mind’.

4 Ideas to Help Improve Your Mental Fortitude

1. Have Courage

  • To build mental toughness you need to have courage, the courage to face your fears and endure those challenging and at times uncomfortable situations.
  • This is where your attitude comes in – you need to believe that you can overcome the challenge and when you do you need to reflect on how you felt at the time and how great you feel now.   To have courage you need to be prepared to fail and to learn from that failure.
  • Time shift your thinking (envision yourself in the future) to what you will feel like when you overcome the challenge and your fortitude improves.

 2. Be Determined

  • To have fortitude you need to be determined and focused on your goals and vision.resilience
  • Setting your goals and vision will help you to keep your eye on what is most important to you and to prioritize where you focus your energy and determination.

 3. Be emotionally self-aware & calm

  • Spend some time becoming aware of your emotions and how you feel in certain circumstances.  What actions or behaviours of others make you feel uncomfortable, strong, confident, upset?
  • By identifying these situations and how they make you feel will help improve your self-awareness – of your feelings and body language.
  • The next step is being aware and controlling your emotions in these situations.
  • Being calm under fire is an important trait of great leaders – this helps build the trust of your team.
  • Remain focused and in control and aware of your emotions are key to having mental toughness.  Now I am not saying to be void of emotion and cold or unapproachable in challenging situations – showing emotion is an important characteristic of strong work and professional relationships but being aware of your emotions and the impact you are having on others is an important leadership quality.

 4. Work hard at building fortitude and be accountable

  • Just like you may hire a personal trainer or start a fitness program to lose weight or become more fit and have more physical strength/fortitude developing mental toughness and becoming resilient takes work.
  • Building fortitude takes time so be patient and look at it as a learning process
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself and find someone; a trusted friend, colleague or coach to hold you accountable.

A great outcome of having fortitude and mental toughness is that you will develop resilience.  You will be resilient.  In challenging times or times of failure you will be able to bounce back and remain productive and focused on your goals.   Your leadership will be strengthened and you will be able to support your team.  Acknowledging that we are not perfect but yet can still be confident and have a positive attitude is a great feeling.  You will make mistakes but you can have the toughness and fortitude to not let these mistakes stop you or derail your plan to achieve your goals.

Resilience is the outcome of having fortitude.  This resilience will keep you on the path to your success.