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7 Mental Toughness Tips From a Former Navy SEAL Trainer

If there’s one thing an entrepreneur must master, it’s the art of resiliency. These tips from a former special agent will help you raise the bar on your mental toughness.

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BY Marla Tabaka - 10 May 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

This former Special Agent has protected members of Congress, governors, heads of state, and celebrities. He's tough and resilient, but it hasn't always been that way.

"Growing up I was easy prey. I was the fat kid and cry-baby who attracted the attention of bullies, to whom I would always cower," recalls Andrew Wittman. But the kid who cowered taught himself to bounce back and be strong. So much so that grew into an adult who one day would be contracted by the State Department to train Navy SEALS, Marines, Rangers, and Special Forces for high-threat diplomatic security assignments.

"Resiliency allows you to bounce back from failure and face pain, challenges, and even temptation, head-on without drawing back," says Wittman. "It's a skill that can be used in your work life, in your love life, in friendships, and for raising your kids."

As an entrepreneur, resiliency and mental toughness are a critical ingredient to long-lasting success. If you don't think of yourself as tough, you may be able to shift your perspective today. Wittman sees resiliency as a skill, not a personality trait; one that anyone can attain--yes, that includes you.

Now the CEO of the Mental Toughness Training Center, Wittman teaches Fortune 500 CEO's how to embrace resiliency like he did. Here he has shared his seven key steps for leaders to strengthen their mental toughness muscle.


1. Do the Things You Fear--A Lot

The thing that causes trepidation quickly turns to trite if you do it enough. In the case of a teenager learning to drive on the interstate, it's extremely frightening at first. But let them drive the six hours to Grandma's house and they're over the fear an hour or so into the drive. Soon they will become bored enough that they will fiddle with the radio just to stay awake.


2. Have A Hero

Making your first million dollars is the hardest, but not for the reason most people think. It's hardest because before you do it, you aren't really sure it can be done. Once you do it, it's easier to do it again because it's already been done. Choosing a role model and hero who has accomplished the kind of success you would like to have makes it easier to believe you can do it as well. It's already been done. What one person can do, another person can do.


3. Maintain A Trusted Inner Circle

When I say, trusted inner circle, it goes beyond people you believe won't betray you by not putting out your dirty laundry on the street. You need an inner circle that holds you accountable and then helps you clean your dirty laundry before it becomes a real (public) problem.


4. Tell Your War Stories Proudly

Telling yourself, out loud, about all the times you overcame adversity, affliction, and calamity focuses your mind and emotions on your victories. Your conscious mind is reminded that you have a track record of handling difficulties and if you've done it before, it's easier to do again. It's already been done, just like the first million dollars.


5. Never Say I'll Try

Trying is lying. Have you ever invited someone to a party you were having and they said they would "try to make it." Did they show up? Chances are they didn't. Why? Because humans use the word "try" to give ourselves wiggle room--and then we take the wiggle room. As Yoda said, "Do or do not, there is no try."


6. Be the Pig, Not the Chicken

On the breakfast plate of bacon and eggs, the chicken is involved but the pig is committed. Commitment is the bedrock of the resilient minded, without it, humans will cut and run as soon as the going gets difficult. Hernan Cortez, in the 1500's faced overwhelming odds in his quest for Aztec gold. He got his troops to go all in and be committed. How? By giving moving and inspiring speeches? No, by burning the boats and making victory the only way home for the troops. It worked. Six-hundred troops defeated a world super power with over 30,000 troops.


7. Have Courage & Never Give Up

Courage isn't the lack of fear. It's the choice to override the fear. Couple that with the quality that refuses to give up and the battle is nearly won at the onset. Courage and persistence are like the Batman and Superman of resilience. If you are courageous enough to face adversity and persistent enough to find a way to stay in the fight long enough, a solution almost always presents itself.

What do you fear doing the most? What areas of your life are you not all-in-committed? Study them for the perfect opportunity to begin your resiliency training now.

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