The Science of Developing Mental Toughness in Your Health, Work, and Life

Have you ever wondered what makes someone a good athlete? Or a good leader? Or a good parent? Why do some people accomplish their goals while others fail?

What makes the difference?

Usually we answer these questions by talking about the talent of top performers. He must be the smartest scientist in the lab. She’s faster than everyone else on the team. He is a brilliant business strategist.

But I think we all know there is more to the story than that.

In fact, when you start looking into it, your talent and your intelligence don’t play nearly as big of a role as you might think. The research studies that I have found say that intelligence only accounts for 30% of your achievement — and that’s at the extreme upper end.

What makes a bigger impact than talent or intelligence? Mental toughness.

Research is starting to reveal that your mental toughness — or “grit” as they call it — plays a more important role than anything else for achieving your goals in health, business, and life. That’s good news because you can’t do much about the genes you were born with, but you can do a lot to develop mental toughness.

Why is mental toughness so important? And how can you develop more of it?

Let’s talk about that now.

Mental Toughness and The United States Military

Each year, approximately 1,300 cadets join the entering class at the United States Military Academy, West Point. During their first summer on campus, cadets are required to complete a series of brutal tests. This summer initiation program is known internally as “Beast Barracks.”

In the words of researchers who have studied West Point cadets, “Beast Barracks is deliberately engineered to test the very limits of cadets’ physical, emotional, and mental capacities.”

You might imagine that the cadets who successfully complete Beast Barracks are bigger, stronger, or more intelligent than their peers. But Angela Duckworth, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, found something different when she began tracking the cadets.

Duckworth studies achievement, and more specifically, how your mental toughness, perseverance, and passion impact your ability to achieve goals. At West Point, she tracked a total of 2,441 cadets spread across two entering classes. She recorded their high school rank, SAT scores, Leadership Potential Score (which reflects participation in extracurricular activities), Physical Aptitude Exam (a standardized physical exercise evaluation), and Grit Scale (which measures perseverance and passion for long–term goals).

Here’s what she found out…

It wasn’t strength or smarts or leadership potential that accurately predicted whether or not a cadet would finish Beast Barracks. Instead, it was grit — the perseverance and passion to achieve long–term goals — that made the difference.

In fact, cadets who were one standard deviation higher on the Grit Scale were 60% more likely to finish Beast Barracks than their peers. It was mental toughness that predicted whether or not a cadet would be successful, not their talent, intelligence, or genetics.

When Is Mental Toughness Useful?

Duckworth’s research has revealed the importance of mental toughness in a variety of fields.

In addition to the West Point study, she discovered that…

  • Ivy League undergraduate students who had more grit also had higher GPAs than their peers — even though they had lower SAT scores and weren’t as “smart.”
  • When comparing two people who are the same age but have different levels of education, grit (and not intelligence) more accurately predicts which one will be better educated.
  • Competitors in the National Spelling Bee outperform their peers not because of IQ, but because of their grit and commitment to more consistent practice.

And it’s not just education where mental toughness and grit are useful. Duckworth and her colleagues heard similar stories when they started interviewing top performers in all fields…

Our hypothesis that grit is essential to high achievement evolved during interviews with professionals in investment banking, painting, journalism, academia, medicine, and law. Asked what quality distinguishes star performers in their respective fields, these individuals cited grit or a close synonym as often as talent. In fact, many were awed by the achievements of peers who did not at first seem as gifted as others but whose sustained commitment to their ambitions was exceptional. Likewise, many noted with surprise that prodigiously gifted peers did not end up in the upper echelons of their field.
—Angela Duckworth

You have probably seen evidence of this in your own experiences. Remember your friend who squandered their talent? How about that person on your team who squeezed the most out of their potential? Have you known someone who was set on accomplishing a goal, no matter how long it took?

You can read the whole research study here, but this is the bottom line:

In every area of life — from your education to your work to your health — it is your amount of grit, mental toughness, and perseverance predicts your level of success more than any other factor we can find.

In other words, talent is overrated.

What Makes Someone Mentally Tough?

It’s great to talk about mental toughness, grit, and perseverance … but what do those things actually look like in the real world?

In a word, toughness and grit equal consistency.

Mentally tough athletes are more consistent than others. They don’t miss workouts. They don’t miss assignments. They always have their teammates back.

Mentally tough leaders are more consistent than their peers. They have a clear goal that they work towards each day. They don’t let short–term profits, negative feedback, or hectic schedules prevent them from continuing the march towards their vision. They make a habit of building up the people around them — not just once, but over and over and over again.

Mentally tough artists, writers, and employees deliver on a more consistent basis than most. They work on a schedule, not just when they feel motivated. They approach their work like a pro, not an amateur. They do the most important thing first and don’t shirk responsibilities.

The good news is that grit and perseverance can become your defining traits, regardless of the talent you were born with. You can become more consistent. You can develop superhuman levels of mental toughness.


In my experience, these 3 strategies work well in the real world…

1. Define what mental toughness means for you.

For the West Point army cadets being mentally tough meant finishing an entire summer of Beast Barracks.

For you, it might be…

  • going one month without missing a workout
  • going one week without eating processed or packaged food
  • delivering your work ahead of schedule for two days in a row
  • meditating every morning this week
  • grinding out one extra rep on each set at the gym today
  • calling one friend to catch up every Saturday this month
  • spending one hour doing something creative every evening this week

Whatever it is, be clear about what you’re going after. Mental toughness is an abstract quality, but in the real world it’s tied to concrete actions. You can’t magically think your way to becoming mentally tough, you prove it to yourself by doing something in real life.

Which brings me to my second point…

2. Mental toughness is built through small physical wins.

You can’t become committed or consistent with a weak mind. How many workouts have you missed because your mind, not your body, told you you were tired? How many reps have you missed out on because your mind said, “Nine reps is enough. Don’t worry about the tenth.” Probably thousands for most people, including myself. And 99% are due to weakness of the mind, not the body.
—Drew Shamrock

So often we think that mental toughness is about how we respond to extreme situations. How did you perform in the championship game? Can you keep your life together while grieving the death of a family member? Did you bounce back after your business went bankrupt?

There’s no doubt that extreme situations test our courage, perseverance, and mental toughness … but what about everyday circumstances?

Mental toughness is like a muscle. It needs to be worked to grow and develop. If you haven’t pushed yourself in thousands of small ways, of course you’ll wilt when things get really difficult.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Choose to do the tenth rep when it would be easier to just do nine. Choose to create when it would be easier to consume. Choose to ask the extra question when it would be easier to accept. Prove to yourself — in a thousand tiny ways — that you have enough guts to get in the ring and do battle with life.

Mental toughness is built through small wins. It’s the individual choices that we make on a daily basis that build our “mental toughness muscle.” We all want mental strength, but you can’t think your way to it. It’s your physical actions that prove your mental fortitude.

3. Mental toughness is about your habits, not your motivation.

Motivation is fickle. Willpower comes and goes.

Mental toughness isn’t about getting an incredible dose of inspiration or courage. It’s about building the daily habits that allow you to stick to a schedule and overcome challenges and distractions over and over and over again.

Mentally tough people don’t have to be more courageous, more talented, or more intelligent — just more consistent. Mentally tough people develop systems that help them focus on the important stuff regardless of how many obstacles life puts in front of them. It’s their habits that form the foundation of their mental beliefs and ultimately set them apart.

I’ve written about this many times before. Here are the basic steps for building a new habit and links to further information on doing each step.

  1. Start by building your identity.
  2. Focus on small behaviors, not life–changing transformations.
  3. Develop a routine that gets you going regardless of how motivated you feel.
  4. Stick to the schedule and forget about the results.
  5. When you slip up, get back on track as quickly as possible.

Mental toughness comes down to your habits. It’s about doing the things you know you’re supposed to do on a more consistent basis. It’s about your dedication to daily practice and your ability to stick to a schedule.

How Have You Developed Mental Toughness?

Our mission as a community is clear: we are looking to live a healthy lives and make a difference in the world.

To that end, I see it as my responsibility to equip you with the best information, ideas, and strategies for living healthier, becoming happier, and making a bigger impact with your life and work.

But no matter what strategies we discuss, no matter what goals we set our sights on, no matter what vision we have for ourselves and the people around us … none of it can become a reality without mental toughness, perseverance, and grit.

When things get tough for most people, they find something easier to work on. When things get difficult for mentally tough people, they find a way to stay on schedule.

There will always be extreme moments that require incredible bouts of courage, resiliency, and grit … but for 95% of the circumstances in life, toughness simply comes down to being more consistent than most people.

1. Thanks to my good friend Bryan for writing about toughness and sparking my interest on the topic.


  1. It seems like mental toughness is what you have to rely on when motivation and willpower are lacking. I also like to use the term “doggedness” because it sounds extra tough to me.

    I’m looking forward to hearing how other people develop their mental toughness because this is definitely an area where I can struggle.

    Great article, James!

    • Doggedness — I like that phrase too.

      And I think we all struggle with mental toughness from time to time. The important thing is that we do our best to get better and consistently push ourselves in small ways.

      Thanks for reading, Jennie!

  2. To my surprise, nothing has strengthened my discipline and mental toughness than finally maintaining a consistent workout schedule. I go to my kickboxing gym every am for a 6:30 class. When I’m on the road (sometimes 3-4 cities in a week), I hit the hotel gym no matter what time it is – I’ve been on the treadmill at 11 pm some nights. While it is about looking better, it’s more about proving that I can be consistent. And if I can do that, I can do anything. It’s changed my life and I’m convinced its a habit that is here to stay. No more New Year resolutions to work out more!

    • Diana — first, congrats on your success. That’s an awesome habit to have built. Keep up the good work.

      I’ve seen similar things from my experiences with fitness and athletics. Pushing yourself physically on a regular basis is one of the best ways to develop toughness mentally.

      Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts. It’s great to have you in our community!

  3. Still rocking it James.

    “Ivy League undergraduate students who had more grit also had higher GPAs than their peers — even though they had lower SAT scores and weren’t as ‘smart.’ ” Wow – that is totally me, and I never realized it.

    On this same point, one thing that matters in mental toughness for me is engagement. In University, I did exceedingly well despite not being that smart because I was so engaged in what I was studying – I thought about relationships between variables I was researching on my way home from class, I dreamt about it.

    In that respect, it is important to choose activities that you are engaged and invested in, and this will automatically forge grit for you. Basically, follow your dreams. People in my life didn’t want me to go into Biogeochemistry in University because it wouldn’t make the big bucks later on, but I couldn’t help myself – I was devoted to it. That made it a lot easier to have grit when things got tough later on.

    Other than being engaged, full commitment forges grit. I make myself commit using self-experiments (the experiment is compromised if I don’t follow the plan for it). Also, there is nothing like being above a piece on a lead climb at the edge of your abilities to make you commit, calm your emotions, and do what you need to do – it’s practice for life!

    Thanks again for your advice, I love how this community sparks ideas that we can all ponder on, be inspired by, and run with.

    Be Well,

    • Moose — awesome examples, my man.

      I couldn’t agree with you more about the engagement. I think comes down to some version of this: you have to care about your goals. It sounds simple, but it’s really easy to start living a life were you simply do things as they are expected of you rather than doing things that you really care about.

      It’s something we all struggle with from time to time (I know I do).

      Keep rocking man. It’s great to have you sharing your thoughts here.

  4. There is always a way to even the playing field and rise above to a level we never expected to be at. The way I practice mental toughness is to always strive for becoming better and not settling for small improvements.

    Would you say mental toughness can make up for physical fitness in terms of living a happy and healthy life or is there a balance that everyone should achieve?

    Keep up the good work!


    • Glad you enjoyed it, JKthrizzle.

      I could be wrong, but I don’t feel like mental toughness can make up for physical fitness since they are different things. But I do think they feed off of each other. Pushing yourself physically can reveal what you’re made of mentally. And having a strong mind can help you overcome certain limitations of the body.

  5. Seems to me that every example comes back to consistency. To me, consistency always comes back to commitment. I’ve never thought about it as “toughness”. If I consider things like consistency of training or studying then I’m not surprised that consistency beats talent or IQ, but is there any difference? Is this semantics or am I missing something about toughness?

    • Brian — good points. I think it is semantics in some sense. Toughness, consistency, and commitment all share many qualities in common, so it’s possible that people are talking about the same thing and using different words.

      Regardless, I think the important thing to realize (and the point that I was hoping to make with this article) is that it’s easy to claim that people achieve success because of talent, intelligence, or genetics. But in truth, most successful people reach the top because of their consistency and commitment to their habits. The impact of these qualities are so significant, in fact, that they predict success more than things like talent and intelligence.

      In other words, time spent debating who is the most talented isn’t time well spent. Meanwhile, the people who spend time building better habits are more likely to succeed.

      Hopefully that drives my point home. Thanks for reading! It’s great to have you here.

    • Brian, you make a good point. We can always breakdown causes into yet another core cause…consistency requires commitment and commitment requires a bunch of other stuff like purpose and belief etc. That’s why I like the emphasis here on “small wins.” I was watching Batman Begins with my 7 year old son today and recalled the super hero line, “It’s not who I am inside that matters, but WHAT I DO that defines me.” We live in a world full of good intentions and great ideas…its daily execution that’s lacking. I think there is a great opportunity for Mental Toughness to become associated with many other aspects of our lives. MT makes one think of boot camp, overcoming tragedy…but what about the little things that make a HUGE difference? Reading with your child…EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, splicing up your paycheck every two weeks and saving, etc…these things require Mental Toughness. I like that…never thought of it that way before. I’m not as mentally tough as I thought.

  6. James!!! Outstanding post, man. I really dig how you managed to use the word consistent 18 times in this article. Toughness and success rely so very heavily upon it. Walking, writing, guitar practice, etc all happen everyday come hell or high water. I continue to get faster and better at these things because I stay on schedule.

    • Ha — at least I was consistent in my use of the word consistent.

      And you hit the nail on the head: stick to the schedule and most of the results will figure themselves out.

  7. Many people around me like to talk about how motivated I am, and how they could never do all the things I do or keep up with me. What they don’t seem to understand is that I’m just a human being – I have my off days too. But as you said, it’s all about being consistent. I never miss a swim practice. Even when I’m not feeling well, am too busy, or just plain don’t feel like it, I make myself go to the pool. I try to apply this to other areas of my life as well, but of course I have a long way to go (like keeping my house clean)!

    I also try to use adversity as a way to pump myself up. When the going gets tough, instead of feeling down or sorry for myself, I try to get pumped up about the challenge ahead, and excite those around me. I love rallying others to a challenge. I think attitude is a huge part of mental toughness.

    • Thanks for sharing, Jessica. It’s great to hear about your experiences.

      And I agree — attitude is a huge part of mental toughness. Maybe I’ll have to write about that soon.

      Thanks for reading!

  8. “Talent is overrated”, Great one James!

    I remember thinking if only I can get motivated enough everything will fall into places: “Eye of the tiger” will start playing the background and I’ll go training over and over “Rocky” style. Too bad the song lasts like 3 minutes and then it’s time to show how bad you really want it :)

    On a side note, I think motivation and motivating yourself still has it’s place but not the one that we often imagine.

    One more thing I’d like to discuss: I think it’s important to mention one more characteristics of mental toughness – ability to walk away. To make the hard decision, honest evaluation that f.e. that relationship is not working out or the job that you thought is awesome is becoming your grave.

    There are a lot of people who are consistent with going to work they hate 9 to 5 Monday to Friday not because they are mentality strong, but because they are afraid to admit they were wrong, that they made a bad decision and it’s time to cut the losses.

    I think that’s the key difference between mental toughness and consistency.


    Anyhow, really enjoyed this article, a lot to think to about, Thank you!


    • Darius — I really like that distinction you made.

      “There are a lot of people who are consistent with going to work they hate 9 to 5 Monday to Friday not because they are mentality strong, but because they are afraid to admit they were wrong…”

      Fear of failure and mental toughness are not the same thing, but it’s easy to convince yourself that you’re being “mentally tough” when you grind out things that you don’t enjoy doing. There’s a lot to think about in that short sentence.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  9. I have always considered myself weak and I didn’t think there was anything I could do about it. Well, now I know I can. I don’t expect it to be easy and I do expect I will fail sometimes. But I know now I can get back up and succeed. Thank you for telling me something about myself that I should have already known but didn’t. I can succeed. I can be consistent. And I have already begun……………

    • Rebecca — I’m happy I could help.

      And don’t worry about failure. We all fail. I’ve flopped and stumbled and screwed up too many times to count. (In quite a few cases, I cost myself thousands of dollars because of failures and stupid ideas.)

      But I can assure you, it’s not avoiding failure that makes you mentally tough, it’s overcoming it.

      Keep up the great work! Thanks for reading and being part of our community!

  10. So much greatness here James! Thanks for the inspiration! I’m taking you up on a number of suggestions under heading 1. Define….

    Don’t miss a workout (cycling), do another rep, cut processed food, connect with a friend, etc.

    I’ve been getting there. Far, far beyond where I was just a year ago. And you know why? Because I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. And getting fed up, ticked off, and desiring change above all else, feeds a grit that ain’t gonna back down!

    Thanks for the push as usual James!

    • It’s awesome to hear about your progress, Garry. Keep up the great work. I’m looking forward to hearing about even more of your success in the future.

    • Excellent point, Moose! It is so much easier to consistently do something that you enjoy. I think that is something that is overlooked a lot and we focus on things like running on the treadmill for 30 minutes when running is something that we hate doing and it is always just a chore. That time could be much better spent doing something we would enjoy like rollerblading, swimming, lifting weights, etc and would still be forging the mental toughness for working out. It would ultimately be easier to do since it’s something we would enjoy instead of something we see as a chore.

  11. Hi James and everyone, I just joined up.

    It’s just dawning on me how much I’ve been brainwashed from “child abuse.” How confusing, disheartening, mind-warping, and deluding. So, it’s really refreshing to find information written in a clear, easy to understand and warm style, without judgement.

    I’m embarrassed and ashamed of my life. I’m no genius, but I’m blessed to have intelligence enough and although I don’t yet have the belief in my abilities to make a clean start (guess a messy start will have to do) I really appreciate all the time, effort and competence James and those commenting have put in here. Even though I don’t quite ‘get it’ yet, you are making a difference in my life and I’m very appreciative.

    I’ve yet to make a schedule and I am stumped on the type of identity I want, but I guess, I’ll start really small while I figure that one out. James, you’re spot on in your other writing. There’s so much information, so many options… I really like the comment about engaging what you enjoy as part of your schedule.

    I believe we’ve all struggled, it’s the way of the world, but for those one in four who’ve experienced abuse as children it can be really confusing. Inconsistency is a common theme, control and forcing things, enjoyment is punished/ruined (used for control) and your identity as ‘bad’ at your core — lazy, dumb ass, useless, ugly. So much brainwashing, so untrue, so intrinsic, but I’m betting so beatable, even though I haven’t yet worked out a way.

    This is the year I greet my parents after over 20 years of alienation with an intention of self-preservation and a big love. Doing what I can to make something good out of something bad. I doubt they’ll understand or be “helpful.” So today and this week I’m going to make a list the things that make me happy — feeding the lorikeets, rollerblading, biking, appreciating nature and flowers, throwing mud and making mud pies — making lemonade out of lemons, out of mud. How I’ll put that into a schedule I don’t know yet. It’s tricky, because pleasure and pain are so related for me. I hadn’t considered doing weights, but maybe it could be good.

    Thanks, not just for the inspiration and clarity of the information, but for the place to “hopefully” be received even while most likely misunderstood. (Unless your in my shoes, how could you know…)

    • Braeden — thanks so much for saying hello and sharing your story. It’s great to have you in our community.

      I’m sorry to hear about your abuse. You’re a good person and you don’t deserve that.

      I can’t say that my writing is the cure for your struggles (or any others), but I’m happy to help however I can. I’ll do my best to continue sending great information your way.

      In the meantime, keep up the good work, develop a small schedule, and stick to it. There will always be time to build up and increase the intensity. For now, just start proving your ability to yourself in small ways.

      Thanks for reading and for having the courage to share with us.

      • Thanks, James. The effort you put in here is really making a difference because I’m acting on it. And that means it’s rippling out in my little circle and making a difference in other peoples lives too. It’s very early days for me, I’m just a beginner and thats exciting. I can prove my ability to myself and I will exactly as you say – in small ways. Thanks mate. Warmest Braeden

  12. Consistency and grit. This is something I’ve struggled with and just hit a huge stepping stone, 2 years at my current job. I vowed to stay at my current job for at least one year, regardless of the challenges, and here I am 2 years later.

    This journey started with the intention to transition into the Legal Field with no prior legal experience. This was my first big lesson in consistency and mental toughness, as I generally tend to shy away from things I consider too hard. At first, I thought I would barely last through my unpaid internship, but low and behold here I am, fully employed and finding the job easy. “Things don’t get easier, you just get better!”

    I know one of the only reasons this was accomplished was a commitment to a whole slew of other small things, going to the gym at least twice a week, committing to a sleep schedule, and making the effort to do healthy food shopping weekly, cooking at home, (not an easy feat when you are car-less in San Francisco). Unfortunately, law is not for me, but I am proud of the accomplishment nonetheless, and more than anything have undoubtedly sharpened mental toughness.

    To touch on another point above, I do however feel that now is the time to step up my game and put in place some more proactive additions my “consistency” routine which include some of James’ great points above. To address my identity and make a plan to make strides towards a clear goal. It’s time to invest every day in something that will be fulfilling long term. I am inspired by the post. I know it will take a bit of grit everyday, but I am up for the challenge! Thank you!

    • Lianna — thanks so much for taking the time to read and share your thoughts here. It’s awesome to have you in our little community.

      Good luck with the career transition and keep up the great work with everything else (going to the gym, eating healthy, etc.).

      If you ever have questions or need a little boost, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message. I’m happy to help however I can.


  13. James this is incredibly well written. It is simple and concise. Undoubtedly effective. Thank you for sharing your insights. I think the Idenity aspect of habit forming has been largly ignored by other Habit Experts”.

    • Thanks Mark! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      I don’t think anyone is a true expert on habits (or any subject for that matter), but I’m doing my best to learn and share good ideas.

  14. I’m a college coach and work insane hours during the season. For example, in the office at 5:15am and leave from 11:30pm – 1:30am. Usually I force myself to workout for at least 45 minutes from 9:45pm-10:30pm. I would say that is how I build my mental toughness. However, the fact I work insane hours without a day off for three months at a time would also be a way I build my mental toughness.

    I have always valued mental toughness (to me it was the x-factor that leveled me with the more talented athletes) and absolutely LOVE what you are doing. I couldn’t be more excited about this website! You’re doing a great job!

  15. Loved this — it hit that little ‘spot’ in my brain that needed a nudge! I’m printing out this article to read to my kids (and file to read it to them again when they’re older and can probably digest it better.)

    I’ve also followed you on Twitter so I can keep constantly inspired by your motivations and wisdom.

    Awesome blog! Thanks.

  16. Great article. I’m doing a skydive next month, cos I have a fear of heights! lol I thought to myself ” If I can accomplish this, I can accomplish anything!”. I am scared, but to me , the benefits and rewards will be excellent.

  17. Thanks for sharing this awe-inspiring article. I have never heard of something like this till date. Thanks a ton.

    Personally, I am appreciated for my writing skills and my performance at work as a writer. I won some awards at work. However, I could never extend it to my other goals – writing fiction. I always knew I could do it as I have my own copies of half-baked novels. Now, I know how to get it done. I need to cultivate the habit of consistency with my other goals also, the way I do at work.

    You have given me the magic pill. I hope to make best of this new-found knowledge. Thanks again.

  18. Thank you for what you’ve inspired in me and others. This is my first time hearing and reading this. As you’ve said “I will take action on my mental toughness” and it has already begun. Thank you.

  19. Great article. It reminds me of a quote by Winston Churchill: “Consistency of effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential”, or words to that effect. Any time in life I’ve applied those words, I’ve achieved well.

  20. I have found this post very enlightening. Between exercising and studying for some exams, I need to find a way to hit my goals while holding down a 3rd shift position.

  21. What a well-written article! My middle school-aged son is an athlete, and he recently asked me how he can develop more mental toughness. This article was the first one I clicked on when I googled a search for developing mental toughness. There is NO magic bullet, and this article beautifully explains how grit, consistency, and hard work are the keys to success. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject. Very helpful indeed!

  22. Hi James,

    I love what you say about mental toughness. Ultimately I think it is the characteristic that separates the winners from everyone else. I love two aspects in particular that you say:

    1. Mentally tough people don’t have to be more courageous, more talented, or more intelligent — just more consistent.
    2. You can’t think you way to be mentally tough – you can only act your way into doing so.

    I’d say that so many of the challenges we face would dissipate if we could only work on our mental toughness.

    Thank you for sharing,


  23. Thanks James.

    I was a professional tennis player and I can definitely agree with the fact that talent is worthless unless you have grit and determination. I was a very talented tennis player, but in the end I just wasn’t mentally tough enough to take that next step in my career while I saw so many others who were less talented than me succeed.

    It was a life changing experience for me though, and I have tried to apply what let me down in my tennis career in every other area of my life.

  24. Thank you James for another inspiring article. This post came at a right time for me and I finally understand what mental toughness means.

    Thank you for letting me know that it is OK to not be perfect (in everything I do) as long as you persevere in maintaining certain form of small scale habits.

    I find it to be similar to your example of eating processed food. When I stop eating processed food for 1 day, I will work harder to ensure that this continues the next day and the day after. Until I achieve a 7 day goal. Will attempt to try that on myself. I have tried so previously, but I haven’t been consistent.

    I have also been working to quit coffee for more than half a year. But of late, I picked up coffee drinking again to test and observe on whether I can still tolerate caffeine. The first time, it was OK. I felt more energized and healthy. And then, the second and third time occurred (weeks later), and it is all back to square one. I am determined to give up coffee for good but I won’t do it so drastically. I am currently switching to tea and hopefully slowly reducing them until it become like ‘leisure drinking’ kind of thing.

    I really hope this kind of small ways in pushing myself for both caffeine drinking and processed food consumption will help me to develop the mental toughness as you described. And also in other areas of my life.

    Will definitely keep reading (or reread) all of your posts to help to motivate myself! :)

  25. Hi James, thanks for this great post.

    Thought I would write you a quick note to say how much I enjoy your posts.

    Gino :-)

  26. Another Inspiring article, James. I LOVE it! I have made “Sisu” my new focus word. My goal is to build my “identity” as a trader therefore I will repeat this: “I am the type of trader who consistently sticks to my rules.” You are absolutely right, “toughness simply comes down to being more consistent than most people.” Keep up the great work James!!!!

  27. Well, this seems to be one of those articles, that do more to you than just inspiring and motivating. The best part about the article is that it brings you back to a reality which seems a bit forgotten, but it gives you the tools and makes you realise that no matter what, we all can.

    Well, I am 21. Currently, I am at a position, where I am actually waking up to realize my calling and preparing to go for it. After reading this, I do plan to be consistent and raise the power of my grit, with practice.

    There is one question however… Say, a person knows what he or she wants to excel in, but what if a pathological/ inherent need to be heard, appreciated or simply to be known is also tied to it? What if both excellence and fame are priorities? Would concentrating on fame over here, act as a negative catalyst? Would doing that be somewhat similar to focusing on the performance, rather on practice? If yes, then how should a person try to differentiate between the two and work on them individually? If no, then should modifications be made in the tactics mentioned above, to associate them together and work towards the united dream?

    I know, I might be less mature than most of my friends over here… but, it’s never too early to be clearer about things that matter to an individual.

    Thank you.

  28. Don’t have never will. No matter how hard I try I always walk away when things get tough. No matter what routine I try at the gym, new work project, etc. I always give up. This may work for some but not for me. I have proven it to myself enough.

  29. Braeden,
    Awesome to have you sharing. Trust us, you have already started just by being here and reading!

    You are right on, no one in the world can understand your unique path. At the same time, one of the cool things about a community like this is when you can share your stories like you have done, it gives us all something to think about and be inspired by to make positive changes in our unique lives, so thanks.

    Your story of child abuse reminds me of a podcast I listened to recently, I would highly recommend it. Here is the link:
    The bit of information in this podcast that made me link the two stories is that the guest, Drew Canole, was abused as a child. He shares his story and some of the methods that he used to grow as a person, the main one being moving beyond just forgiving his father, but also thanking him for bringing him into this world. The change in mindset changed everything for him. I know a podcast can’t do justice for a story like that, but I thought I would share because it may somehow help in your personal journey, or at least give you ideas to ruminate on that may grow.

    Thanks again for sharing, it helps us all to grow.
    Be well

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