Maintaining Poise in the Fire

September 27, 2022

Mental Strength is Akin to Physical Strength

One of the greatest skills and muscles you can build in your career is the ability to maintain your attitude and work ethic under any condition. As a professional, you are demanded to produce and deliver by many stakeholders, whether that be your clients, colleagues, or superiors. It is your role to deliver on those promises, and sometimes that can be challenging. Knowing how to maintain your cool will not only serve you in being able to complete tasks timely and effectively, but also in preserving your mental health.

Building the Muscle

I like to think of mental fortitude as the mental version of the physical version of being physically strong. When you work out, you repeatedly stress the muscle, forcing it to grow. But, by putting your body through the physical stress and building your physical strength, you also build an equally powerful skill in the byproduct of mental strength. Mental strength will serve you in all areas of your life: in relationships, business endeavors, entrepreneurship (should you pursue that path), and dealing with difficult situations in all forms. It’s the mental version of “one more rep” as you would under a barbell at the gym. That capacity to keep moving forward is what allows you to reach your goals, both small and big. While the pain of doing that extra rep may seem excruciating in the moment, the glory of the success from your struggle is forever. That ability to continually show up compounds over time as you become stronger and stronger. You will learn to understand how to endure and how to do it well.

By pushing your physical limits, you train your brain to withstand difficult situations and think clearly under pressure. These are the tools that will help you in the workplace to persevere and produce your best work, even when the work is long and tedious. It’s this version of “reps” in your professional career that will build the stepping stones to your success. Now, while not all of us are gym-goers, we can all take these cues to apply to our day-to-day. There is a great quote from a favorite author of mine that says “Discipline is freedom,” and I believe by following this philosophy, you can unlock your true potential in every aspect of your life.

Stoicism and Work

Stoicism is a valuable philosophical school of thought that is defined as:

“The endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.”

While we are certainly not enduring physical pain working at our keyboards on a daily basis, we can take this thinking and apply it to how we navigate. This can be instrumental in removing your emotions to help you be more focused in completing your tasks, dealing with an upset coworker with whom you disagree, or maintaining course as a leader to signal to your team that everything is going to be alright, and things are under control. There’s nothing more unattractive in the workplace than a team member who is unable to regulate themselves in order to reach the common goal. Trials will be presented daily, so it is our responsibility to know how to navigate these obstacles in order to still get to the finish line.

One of my favorite ways to think about how to comport oneself is to think of yourself as a mountain. The mountain is massive and immovable. It doesn’t matter if it is sunny, storming, a hurricane is coming–the mountain does not move. You must learn how to become a mountain of your own. When things are flying around the office, emails are at an all time high, urgent requests are made of you, you must remain calm and composed. Panicking will surely put you in a frazzle and both your work and mindset will suffer. It’s also important for you to be organized and have your own systems in place to minimize these events, but also to have a process to work through these situations.

A Strong Mountain

By building your mental muscles, you can be more equipped to tackle each day. Not every day will be a storm–most of them will be sunny. But, when the dark clouds start to loom, you will have the same attitude through and through. I challenge you take these tips to build yourself up in all areas of your life. It’s time to hunker down and dig your feet deeper in the dirt because nothing will be tougher than you. You are the mountain!