Strategies for Developing Mental Toughness During Workplace Change

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  • 0:00 Mental Toughness
  • 1:24 How to Develop Mental…
  • 5:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Mental toughness can help employees navigate the winds of change in the workplace. In this lesson, you'll learn about some strategies for helping to develop mental toughness and focus on the positives.

Mental Toughness

The Beast Barracks program at West Point is a seven-week initiation of sorts for new cadets at the United States Military Academy. This first summer combines a series of trainings, physical trials, briefings and formations designed to turn civilians into soldiers. To say it is a grueling process would be an understatement.

But, a researcher studying cadets in the Beast Barracks program discovered something interesting. She looked at high school grades, standardized test scores, physical test records and more to make her assessment. It wasn't the strongest or smartest cadets who navigated the program most successfully; rather, it was those with mental toughness, or determination in the face of adversity, that propelled them to success.

The concept of mental toughness can have varying definitions. For example, renowned football coach Vince Lombardi called it, ''a perfectly disciplined state of mind that refuses to give in.'' Mental toughness is especially important when you're going through change since change can be difficult and challenging. In the workplace, it may be unanticipated or sudden, which can further complicate matters, both personally and professionally.

Mental toughness isn't inborn, which is good news for most of us. Rather, it can be developed and honed with the right mindset and strategies. Let's take a closer look.

How to Develop Mental Toughness

Mental toughness doesn't have anything to do with how much weight you can lift or how strong you are physically. Instead, it's all about what happens inside your mind when you're confronted with challenging situations, stress or workplace problems.

Developing mental toughness during workplace change involves approaching the situation with a positive outlook, planning and goal-setting rather than dwelling on the negative or things beyond your control.

Whether it's layoffs at work, new management or increasing (or decreasing) work load, mental toughness is something that can help you better navigate any challenging situation. These mental toughness strategies will help you improve your grit and determination.

Maintain a Positive Outlook

The first strategy is to maintain a positive outlook. When golfers step to the green, they visualize connecting with the ball and driving it toward the hole. They don't think about things going off course. People with mental toughness envision things going right, rather than things going wrong. They maintain a positive outlook that guides them through challenging situations. Training your brain to think about good outcomes instead of negative outcomes is all about visualizing successes rather than failures, which helps you move toward making them a reality. It's telling yourself, ''This change is going to help me do my job more efficiently,'' instead of, ''This change is going to create more work for me.''

Goal-Setting Over Worrying

A second strategy is to choose goal setting over worrying. Someone once said, ''Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won't get you anywhere.'' Let's be honest, worrying about what's happening with change in the workplace is normal, but it's not productive. Why? Because you probably can't do anything about it. Instead, concentrate the energy you'd spend on worrying into taking action and setting goals.

Choose goals for yourself and write them down, and then invest your energy into seeing them through to fruition. This will help keep your mind trained on successes and help you maintain some control over your own environment. Olympic athletes don't worry about the next heat or the next challenge; rather, they channel their energy into practicing and achieving their personal goals.

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