Daily Dose of Coach #121: 10 Traits of the Mentally Tough


Over the past 20 years of working with, studying and observing some of the most elite athletes in the world, here are 10 traits I've found in the most mentally tough.

1. They live at the end of their rope – Toughness is learned. Toughness is earned.  It is never issued.  It takes time to callous the fear inside you.  They put themselves in the most difficult situations they can find.  Especially in practice.

2. They understand pain is optional– Bruce Lee says, “Don’t pray for an easy life.  Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”  Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional.  They embrace difficulties and trials.  They become more excited as difficulties grow.  They have a passion for challenge and are ruthless competitors.

3. They make the choice to be great – They prepare and commit at the highest levels and have the discipline to follow through day in and day out.

4. They trust their instincts – When the stage is set, they are able to get rid of fear, release their ego and trust their body to perform everything they’ve practiced.

5. They know their future self – The greatest athletes I’ve worked with know exactly where they want to go. They become great in their mind before they ever become great in reality.  They have almost a false sense of confidence believing they belong with the best.  Until they have reached that level, it bothers them they are not considered in that category.  That chip continues to drive them.

6. They seek accountability – The great ones want to improve.  It’s almost impossible to improve without accountability.  They put others around them who will push them to make them better.  Accountability ties commitment to results.

7. They always do “One More” –  When you think you’re done, they keep going.  There is always one more to be done.  They never do what they’re supposed to, they always do more.  They’ve trained that little voice in the back of our mind that tells them to stop.

8. They set the tone – People follow them because of who they are and how they work.  The raise the level of those around them.  They lead by example and expect others to either get on board or get out.

9. They master the little things – They show up early.  Their shoes are tied.  They eat breakfast.  They’re in love with the fundamentals.

10. They never ever ever give up – At the end of the day they have a vision and mission to accomplish.  This vision drives them through every difficulty, through every trial until they finally reach it.  Every bump in the road is only a chance to learn and improve.