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  • Writer's pictureCarol Alford

Good to Great

As a mental toughness coach I get to work with a variety of people and I really enjoy the challenge of working with teams who are struggling to perform. One of the many resources I refer to is a book by Jim Collins called " Good to Great". The book makes reference to a prisoner of war called Admiral James Stockdale, who was imprisoned for over seven years during the Vietnam War. During this time he endured torture many times and faced things none us would want to see, but he never lost faith that one day he would be released.

He took a very different mental approach to many of the men in there with him, after seeing their hopes being dashed. You see they raised their spirits, like most people would in that same situation, by believing they would be home by Christmas. Unfortunately, Christmas would come and go and their spirits would drop as they lost hope of ever being released. James however, focused on one day at a time as that was as far as he could see in reality, he didn't know what the future held; this way of thinking became known as the Stockdale paradox.

We can all learn from this, as we find ourselves facing Covid19. The virus is a unknown entirety, we are learning more about it each day from our neighbours who are further down the curve. but we don’t know the future of next week or next month. Therefore it is important for us to focus on our daily tasks to stay mentally tough. Here are 5 tips to keep you mentally strong

1. Opportunity vs. Obstacle

The situation we find ourselves in does not change, merely how we view it. 

We can view our current situation either as an obstacle or an opportunity. If we look at the situation as an obstacle, then we’ll see the threats that face us (economy, quarantine, how long it’ll last, etc). As a result,we’ll automatically adopt a negative mindset and our anxiety and stress levels will increase. 

However, if we can focus on the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity, then we’ll see the challenges in front of us. We’ll focus instead on how we can adapt, get better and improve. Our attitude changes as a result. 

I've been taking the opportunity this week to sort out the garden and clean out pots, planting seeds ready for crops later in the year. Going back to basics has really uplifted my spirits and at the end of each day I've been able to admire what I've accomplished. I've even been using ingredients in the cupboard that have been sitting there for ages, not knowing what to do with them. After searching ideas on the web I've been making cakes and loaves which the boys have been enjoying eating

2. Keep Routine

What causes us all stress, apprehension, and worry is the sudden lack of control in our lives. Our schedules have all completely fallen apart and now we are left to deal, handle, and cope with it. 

In order to stay mentally tough and get back some semblance of control, we need to develop a routine. 

Write out blocks of time to schedule for different activities, family, and work. It will create a feeling of comfort, because our environment now has created freedom for our mind to focus only on what is in front of us. 

There is no perfect routine and it will mess-up and deviate. The key is to get back to our routine and refer to it often. 

3. Focus on Others

The way that we get outside of our own head is to focus on others. It’s simple because we cannot help out anyone else in life without also helping out ourselves. Check on your neighbours, especially the elderly or vulnerable. Take the opportunity to leave a positive comment on a group page, or text someone and let him or her know that you were thinking of them. 

Focusing on someone else is how we create meaning in our lives and get outside of our own troubles. And we need to be intentional about this area because it happens by design, not by default. 

4. Train

WE perform like we train! 

Gyms and golf courses are closed, but it doesn’t mean we have to give up exercise.  It is actually the perfect opportunity to start training for something that you didn’t have the time to do. Make it part of your routine. 

If training is too tough to bear, then make a commitment to exercise everyday. Walk, get outside, ride a bike, but get moving. We were born to move and the benefits are endless! You’ll see that exercise means not needing a gym. 

5. Wave to Everybody

And say hello to everybody. There will be more negativity now in the coming weeks than most any other time in our lives. The negativity will be infectious! Thus, we have to make a commitment to breed positivity and share it with others. After all we are all in this together! All we have to do is acknowledge the other people, to remind ourselves that they are suffering too. Many people are struggling and it’s a small but intentional way to improve the atmosphere. Also, don’t expect anything in reply, but know we are doing it for ourselves as well. 

These simple 5 simple tasks will help you to stay mentally strong and you will reap the benefits! If you would like to learn more about the mental side of the game visit our website and get in touch. Hope you enjoyed this week's blog, please drop me an email and let me know what you think, I would love to hear from you. Visit our website and check out our other blogs, there's something in there for everyone.


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