10 mental toughness is living with the highest persistence, resilience,
tenacity, and grit possible. Think about the toughest mentally prepared people
you know when facing a difficult life task. How did they do it?
Why can some people push through very tough situations while others cannot?
Some researchers spend their entire lives seeking the answer to this question. I've lived in a mental toughness laboratory for most of my career, seeing up close and personal those who develop extreme mental toughness and those who do not.
I have also spent time with some of the most mentally strong people in the world who want to find ways to break long-standing barriers on and off the track.
For example, I visited the Sub-two hour Marathon lab several years ago in Dallas, Texas. The lab and the sub-2-hour project aimed to find physical and mental ways to break 2 hours in the marathon.
Many people thought a sub-2-hour marathon was impossible at the time, just like those who believed a sub-four-minute mile was unthinkable years ago. Under very controlled and perfect conditions, the sub-2-hour marathon happened.
I wrote a story about why I thought a sub-2-hour marathon was possible while reading other people's articles, which looked at the same data, saying it was likely impossible.
Like Eliud Kipchoge, who broke the sub-2-hour barrier, says, 'no human is limited". I share his faith in what's possible based on my life experiences.
There are natural laws you can't break, but most people have so much more inside of them waiting to be untapped than they know. There is enormous potential residing and waiting to be released and tapped in every person.
What are some essential traits of those who push through what seem to be impossible barriers to reach their God-given potential? Here are a few of them.
1. All significant breakthroughs begin with belief. How can you accomplish the goal if you don't believe something is possible? As Olympic champion Bill Mills said, God has given me the ability. The rest is up to me. Believe. Believe. Believe. All outstanding accomplishments start with believing you can accomplish the task at hand.
2. Find your unique motivation for your goal. What will inspire you to accomplish what you've never done before? Every person's motivation is different. You can't copy what motivates others; you must discover your unique motivation.
For some, it's dedicating what you are doing to God, and for others, committing a significant breakthrough to a family member or friend. For example, read what motivated me to do my best at one of the most challenging one-day races ever created, The Original Ultimate Runner Competition.
Every person has different motivating factors when going after a big goal because every person is unique. We all have different DNA for a reason.
3. As I've mentioned before in different articles, every person likes to hear encouragement during a race that is meaningful to them. Some people want to hear something like, "You have three people close behind you; you need to pick up the pace and move ahead of at least three more people."
Others are discouraged by these comments. Some like to hear, "close the gap," while others feel this is demotivating. The list goes on and on.
The key is exploring what motivates you, not how others are motivated. By telling coaches and others who care about you what uniquely inspires you the most, you are already halfway to your goal.
We started writing down meaningful words for each person in race situations and challenging workouts years ago while coaching runners. The words we tell others in the heat of a race or key training workouts are heartfelt attempts to assist each person in reaching their God-given potential in ways that are meaningful to them, not what is significant to us as coaches.
Think of meaningful motivation this way by using a business example.
All runners on any team are the coach's customers. You always try to do what's best for your customers if you care about people and world-class excellence in customer service.
Doing what's best for the person under your care in coaching means finding out what motivates each person to attain the best version of themselves. That's love and care in action. Finding out what motivates others is life-changing if you uncover what is truly important to the person.
If you are an athlete, tell your coach what meaningful motivation is to you. Coaches should always help you to the best of their ability by customizing strategies and tactics, including mental toughness strategies for each person.
In summary, one size does not fit all in motivation. Reaching Level 10 mental toughness requires close collaboration between runners and coaches with tactics and strategies that are meaningful and unique to each person.
If you find what meaningful motivation works best for you, you'll go places you thought were impossible at the beginning of your journey.