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Mental Toughness

Originally published: 10.01.13 by Terry Tanker


Over the last several months we’ve discussed the critical components of leadership necessary for running a successful company. In July, we examined “motivating the man in the mirror ” — not always an easy task. However, finding the key(s) to what does motivate you will impact the rest of your company. In August, we analyzed being honest with yourself and having ethics in all that you do. And last month, we took a look at “class” and how it separates you from the crowd and makes people want to follow you.

This month, I want to touch on the importance of a positive mental attitude. When I was in high school, this poem hung on a large poster on a wall in the athletic wing. Underneath it was a quote from Arnold Palmer, the professional golfer. “This poem has hung on a plaque in my office for many years. I am not aware of its origin, but consider it a pertinent guideline for one to peruse in life and toward specific goals as well. It has always provided an energizing thrust to my career in golf.”

Sports analogies are probably the easiest to demonstrate how accurate this poem is. In

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virtually every sporting event, announcers touch on how  “mentally tough” an individual athlete is or, in certain circumstances,  how mentally tough the entire team is. Mental preparedness and mental toughness go hand-in-hand and give individuals a big edge before an event even begins.

Mentally tough individuals who come to mind include Mike Tyson. Other heavy-weights were simply afraid to get in the ring with him, and many of them — now years later — freely admit it. Tiger Woods had it, and I think is trying to find it again. But earlier in his career, all the other players knew they were playing for second. Last month in the women’s U.S. Open Tennis final, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka squared off in a test of wills that lasted several hours. Williams finally won.

These are all individuals we’re familiar with, and I use them as examples only to demonstrate my point. I’m sure within your company, circle of friends or family, you recognize individuals with these traits.  You can train yourself to be “mentally tough,” too.  How? It’s not just one thing — it’s everything we’ve been discussing over the last three months. Goal setting, practice, preparation, discipline, organization and wanting to be better.
I’m glad these articles are helping — keep the emails and comments coming. They motivate me!  n

Whether You Think You Can or Can't You're Probably Right

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think that you dare not, you don’t;
If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t,
It’s almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost;
For in the world you’ll find
Success begins with a fellow’s will.
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise;
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.

Author Unknown

From Howard Ferguson’s book The Edge

Terry has over 23 years of experience in the advertising and publishing industries. He began his career with a business-to-business advertising agency. Prior to forming Hutchinson Tanker Ltd. and HVACR Business in January 2006, he spent 20 years with large national publishing and media firm where he was the publisher of several titles in the mechanical systems marketplace. 

In addition to his experience in advertising and publishing, Terry has worked closely with numerous industry-related associations over the years including AHRI, AMCA, and ABMA. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the American Boiler Manufactures Association (ABMA) and as chairman, for both the Associates Committee and the Marketing Communications Committee of ABMA.



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