When I think back to my life, one of the most thrilling and adventuresome endeavors was learning to fly. I do not particularly see myself as a confident and mentally tough person. I am pretty happy go lucky and laid back most of the time. Yet I was given a dream and a passion to see the world and to fly like those airplanes I used to gawk at from Dad's tractor out in the hayfield. So this rather ordinary teenager with a dream discovered that unless he became mentally tough and self confident, his dreams were just that, pipe-dreams, or he would have to pursue his dream with fortitude and resilience.
Where I found the pluck and courage, God only knows. Yet 10 years on from those pipe-dream days I found myself flying in combat, getting shot at by people who wanted me dead and facing the challenge of getting up every morning to go out on the battlefield again. And that was only the start! Later on, we left the safety of the Air Force career structure to pursue another dream in a foreign country, doing something no one before us had ever done -- running a training and development organization with another foreigner! This we did for over 30 years. It was either pure nonsense and bravado, or the exercising of faith, guts and focus on a dream that drove us to the success we had.
Through our business, thousands of lives have been and continue to be changed. 100's of businesses have been started. 1000's of at risk youths now are employed and contributing to their community. So what are some of the things we can do to develop this mental toughness? I describe dozens of ways in my book, IMPACT! How to Make a Positive Difference. Here we shall discuss two: Redefining Beliefs and Private Victories
One of the most fascinating discoveries in the past 30 years of my life have been the scientific evidence of how the brain works with what has been recorded for thousands of years in wisdom literature, particularly the Bible. James Allen wrote a book, As a Man Thinketh, in the 1940's a profound book about how we can change our lives by changing how we think. Go to https://asamanthinketh.net for a free ebook to get the full story. Now, years later, neuroscientists almost all agree we can change our own brains by changing our beliefs. If we see ourselves as lazy, weak and spineless, then every time we think that thought, we reinforce that belief and make it even more true. However, if we think we can overcome our laziness, build our confidence and stretch our comfort zones, we can forge new brain thoughts that will make it so. As Dr. Caroline Leaf declares, it's "Mind over matter". She offers a 21 day plan in her book, "Switch on your Brain" that truly reprograms your brain to get rid of toxic thoughts that limit us and even destroy us. Powerful!
Very much related to the first thought of redefining our beliefs, we can begin to develop our mental toughness and self confidence by creating private victories. Steven R. Covey in his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People explains it's the private victories we have when no one is looking or even cares that lead to the public successes. It is the recovering alcoholic who goes one more day without yielding to his or her craving which then leads to a generous, giving, loving member of society, or the abused child who uses his experiences to become an excellent parent that impresses.
How do we start to have private victories? Much like the changing of our defining beliefs, it is one day at a time. We set our electronic "it's a new day device" (sounds better than an alarm, doesn't it?) for a specific time, then when it announces the new day, we get up! No one is watching, or even cares, but we know we have done something significant. We planned to do something, and we did it! This private victory transforms itself into a view of ourselves that we do what we say we are going to do. This repeated pattern of victorious living leads to building a character that others notice. They can almost smell it in you!
Here's a quote to put on your mirror or refrigerator to motivate you to become more resilient and mentally tough. It goes like this: