The Six Rules of Mental Toughness

Underlying all success is the resilience and mental toughness to overcome defeats, losses, problems, obstacles, mistakes, the critics, the naysayers, the pessimists, the complainers, and those who say it can’t be done.

Guercino (1591–1666): Atlas holding up the celestial globe

Essentially, this is a characteristics of all great people. And you might say that it is an important element in not becoming a victim and not sliding into the depths of learned helplessness.

When times are tough, it’s important to remember Winston Churchill’s famous saying, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” 


“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” – Kennedy Family Motto

“Fall seven times and stand up eight”– Japanese Proverb

“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work though difficult problems.” – Gever Tulley

“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” – Bill Cosby

“Remember, anything worth doing is going to be difficult.” – M. Johannsen, Advice to future entrepreneurs

The Six Pillars Supporting Mental Toughness

“My father once told me that I was too dumb to quit and this would ultimately be my the secret of success.” — Murray Johannsen

Take Action: Get On the Dual Track

This is a video trailer that looks at developing mental toughness, perseverance and resilience.


This does not mean being rigid in doing the same thing the same way, despite the fact that is no longer working. This is managerial insanity-something you see frequently in government and the corporate sector. One also does not want to undertake a mission impossible (unless you happen to be Tom Cruise).

• Turning goal setting into Vision: Making Goals More Compelling

• Accessing More Resourceful States of Mind: The implications of locus of control, learned helplessness and optimism

• Overcoming the “Monkey Mind:” The importance of Mindfulness to focused attention and concentration

• Enhancing Resilience: Rebounding in the face of adversity by not playing the role of the victim

• Employing Self-Talk to stay positive and stay motivated

Stress Control: Options for dealing with anxiety and the stressors in life

Can You Instill Mental Toughness?

As the article states, “To be mentally tough is to resist the urge to give up in the face of failure, to maintain focus and determination in pursuit of one’s goals, and to emerge from adversity even stronger than before.” 

Doesn’t sound easy. But here is the interesting part of it, can it be taught? This article talks about a program run by Martin Seligmann out of the University of Pennsylvania. This story is a application of how one can toughen up the military, but the general principles apply to any organization. 

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How Can I Help My Child Be Mentally Tough

This article is a little different. It takes the view of a parent and then asks what might one do to install mental toughness in a child. The author also provides a list of associated skills, none of which are that easy to teach. For example, being in control of ones emotions is something most adults can’t do. Still, the best advice is for parents who have children competing in sports.

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Jones, G., Hanton, S., &Connaughton, D. (2002). What is this thing called mental toughness? An investigation of elite sport performers, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14 (3), 205-218.

Lehrer, Jonah (2009). The Truth About Grit., August 2.

Teitelbaum, Daniel (1998). Ultimate Guide to Mental Toughness: How to Raise Your Motivation, Focus and Confidence Like Pushing a Button, Peak Performance Publications.

Leadership Skill Development