What does it mean to be tough?
If I were to say to you, “My father was tough.”, what image would that conjure?
What if instead, I said, “My grandmother was tough.”? What image comes to mind now?
“My boss is tough.” Same word, completely different mental image.
What is toughness?
The toughness I am talking about here can also be called resilience. If I replace the word tough with resilient in the phrases above we get a completely different mental picture.
“My father was resilient.”
“My grandmother was resilient.”
“My boss is resilient.”
This is what I mean by “be tough”, develop the capacity to overcome and recover from difficulties. When we are tough, we face challenges with a new attitude. We have learned from our past experiences that we are able to overcome challenges and fears. We are able to accept that we may fail, but we will overcome that failure and be tougher.
Tips to develop toughness
Toughness can be developed. It requires action. Here are some methods to develop toughness.
- Set challenging goals – If what you are trying to achieve is not challenging then it is not a goal. By setting challenging goals we have introduced the possibility of failure. We have put ourselves in a situation that is going to make us uncomfortable and require us to stretch to achieve the goal. When we achieve the goal our toughness has increased. Think of the first time you accomplished something difficult. Was it just as hard the next time?
- Get back up – When you challenge yourself, you will have situations that make you want to quit. These are the decisive moments in your life where your toughness will be put to the test. When you get back up and put all you have into overcoming the challenge before you, your toughness grows.
- Exercise toughness – Find ways to exercise your toughness by putting yourself in situations that require you to be tough. Go hungry by fasting. Do things when you don’t want to, especially when you don’t want to.
- Create routines – I make the bed every day, every single day, no matter what. I learned this at Navy boot camp in 1989. Through our routines, we can develop toughness. The way this works is some days I don’t feel like making the bed, but I do it anyway. When we create routines and stick with them in the face of challenges we are developing our toughness.
Being tough will give you the capacity to overcome the challenges you will definitely face. Being tough will eliminate excuses. Being tough will make you a better person.
Further reading and resources
How to Develop Mental Toughness: Lessons From 8 Titans – Tim Ferriss
Heather Dorniden GET BACK UP
Make your bed – Admiral William McRaven