I think we’ve all had to be mentally tough over the last six months and are all striving to find ways to be tougher. I recently read an article on Forbes.com that outlines seven things mentally tough people never do. I like that these apply both professionally and also in how we can better handle ourselves during the stress of the pandemic.
1. They never make important decisions when emotional. Emotions can greatly affect how we make decisions. When emotions are running high, we don’t process information like we normally would. It’s important to step back from the situation until your emotions have calmed down. This will allow you to see the situation more clearly.
2. They don’t ignore the necessity to make a decision. Mentally tough people know when a decision needs to be made, and do not procrastinate. They also use relevant information to make that decision and are very good about deciphering gut feelings – are they valid or simply based on a past experience?
3. They don’t draw conclusions without gathering sufficient information. Mentally tough people know when they need to gather more factual information and can easily distinguish fact from opinion. Before drawing a conclusion, they make sure they have enough supporting information that is non-opinion based.
4. They don’t seek information that supports their conclusion. Many of us fall prey to cognitive bias – a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment causing individuals to create their own "subjective reality" from their perception of the input. Mentally tough people are aware of this bias and research both sides of a topic. It’s very easy to find research that supports your opinion, but mentally tough people research both sides.
5. They don’t assume others agree (or must agree) with them. When people assume that others agree with them or should agree with them it’s called naïve realism – the human tendency to believe that we see the world around us objectively, and that people who disagree with us must be uninformed, irrational, or biased. Mentally tough people are aware of this and realize that their way isn’t the only way.
6. They don’t assume they cannot be wrong. Intellectual humility is a common trait in mentally tough people. They are open to other viewpoints and realize that they are not always right. In the scientific world this is when a scientist actively works against their own hypothesis in an attempt to rule out any other explanations before drawing a conclusion.
7. They don’t avoid change or hesitate to change. The ability mentioned above to recognize when they might be wrong, allows the mentally tough individual to put change into motion when necessary. They don’t resist implementing a new strategy, and if that strategy fails, they will continue to search for a better solution.
These traits represent great leaders as well as those who are mentally tough. They are good reminders to make fact-based, non-emotional decisions and to be open-minded to other viewpoints. Have you found that you’ve had to be more mentally tough since the pandemic? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.