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October 27, 2017

6 Ways to Increase Your Mental Toughness

By Michael Hughes

I admit that I have an unquenchable thirst to know more about pretty much anything that I take an interest in. For those of you who train regularly with me, you know I like to stay fairly up to speed on the following:

  • Space X rocket launches 
  • everything Tesla
  • housing and land use in our city 
  • the finer points of a perfected golf swing
  • anything related to raising an 8 month old daughter

My wife fondly refers to me as a nerd… I say she says it fondly because I know she shares the same desire to “geek out” and learn everything about something she’s interested in. 

Because we share this trait, we are always in the middle of an audio book we save for long car drives. The one we’re listening to now is “Living with a SEAL”, by serial entrepreneur Jesse Itzler. It appeals to me because not only do I greatly admire Navy SEALs, but I’m also curious about their mental training. The book is about a wealthy entrepreneur who has plateaued, and so he hires the “toughest man on the planet” to live with him for 31 days and be his in-home personal trainer. The stage is set for hilarity and it doesn’t disappoint. Through all the laughs we’ve had at the predictable culture clash of a trained SEAL with an adrenaline junkie business owner, it has inspired me. 

There is something truly magnetic about pushing yourself to new heights. Beyond the repetitive, single plane exercises, SEAL has the author performing at all hours of the day. What inspired me most is the process of instilling the kind of mental toughness that almost requires a re-wiring of the mind.  

I observed several things:

  1. Avoid the Path of Least Resistance: As humans, we instinctively take the path of least resistance. We find the shortcut and we take it. But to succeed beyond what’s normal, we have to resist this urge and break away from the mindset of doing what’s easiest and rather do what’s best. 
  2. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: When you invest and pay to become disciplined, you are more likely to succeed. Part of the reason Jesse Itzler made it through the 31 days, is the money he spent getting his new housemate trainer. He couldn’t back down because it was already paid for. This is part of the reason we have members pre-pay for the month. It increases the likelihood for follow through. 
  3. Success is Pushing through Discomfort: To be successful, you have to push through discomfort. Otherwise, it’s just plain luck, and you cannot rely on that. Everything worth having takes work; even our health. Anyone who has been successful in achieving success can tell you that it was hard. But they did it. They did it consistently and they kept pushing through the discomfort. If it came easy, we would not be in the fitness business. 
  4. Focus on the Goal: We are more successful doing something uncomfortable when we have a defined goal. One of the goals the author had was to run an ultra marathon. That particular goal crept back into his psyche during his most difficult workouts. If we have something to strive for, we can train ourselves to focus on something more important than the need to reduce our present discomfort. 
  5. Doing Hard Things Takes Courage: Doing hard things again and again takes courage. It may not seem like it, but walking into a gym for a workout can be an act of courage. Courage to face where we are today and commitment to push to where we hope to be. 
  6. Creating a Habit: Eventually, after a while, we can train our minds to not accept defeat as an option. It seems to me that mixing routine with marked progress over time is important to our psyche. Creating a routine that becomes part of a day’s completeness is an important step. In the book, Itzler has a number of miles to run each day before he can go to bed. If we do this day in and day out after a while we can’t imagine going to bed without first running that day’s quota. Over time, this becomes more than just a habit. It becomes the refusal to give up.

So that’s what I’ve picked up so far and it’s inspiring me. 

You may not have asked me to move in for a month and be your designated health and fitness coach, but by joining Gymnazo, you are committing to doing something hard. You’re investing in doing something that takes courage and that can become a habit to transform your life. 

While we may not have Navy SEALS training with us regularly, we do have so many truly regimented and disciplined members that I admire. You inspire me and those around you to shake away excuses, and to commit to investing time and money into a goal and not giving up. 

The meaning of the word Gymnazo is to “exercise so as to discipline oneself.” Listening to this book, reminded me of what pure discipline, embodied by SEAL, looks like. It reminded me how much I admire it and seek to inspire it in others. I even built a business around helping others establish the discipline of fitness in their lives

May we come together to live this out and have the courage to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and build success! 

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