At one of our recent classes I had a follow up discussion with one of the students. It went something like this; “the mental toughness required to perform consistently is huge.” I couldn’t agree with him more. Mental toughness is just like physical strength, it needs to be developed, it needs to be tested and it needs to be practiced.
One of the best recommendations I can make to any student attending training is that perseverance is a learned skill. You have to continually challenge yourself, to put yourself in uncomfortable situations where you have to employ that true grit. At some point during the class you will find yourself disappointed, you either failed a drill, a challenge or a test. The feeble mind is easily put down and I have seen it several times to the point the student literally shuts down or they give up.
You have to realize that failures are part of the game, if you are not failing then you are probably not pushing yourself or your failed to properly design your goals/objectives. I know there are plenty who are afraid to fail, they don’t want to look bad. Believe me, as an instructor you are constantly dealing with this notion. You cannot be afraid to fail, it happens, but the prime directive is the students need to see you demonstrate what it is you are asking of them for several reasons (that would amount to a separate commentary altogether). For more on failure and comfort zones, check out this blog.
So, back to mental toughness and how best to achieve it. Well, it’s no secret that one of the best ways to consistently achieve mental toughness is through grueling physical exercise. There are a lot of good programs out there, but my default recommendation is to explore Crossfit. Whatever your poison, the key is to consistently confront the physical challenges that force you to develop mental toughness. You have got to placed in those situations fairly regularly to learn perseverance.
Many students will ask me what can they do to improve their shooting and I usually respond without skipping a beat; “get stronger”. Many look at the comment from a single dimension, but my hope is they recognize my response is multidimensional. Yes, you are getting stronger, but you were not able to get stronger without first developing that mental toughness to keep coming back or in some cases wanting more.
It doesn’t just apply to shooting, it applies to all aspects of your life and one of the greatest compliments I can get is when a student comes back and says the training class altered his/her life. Out of curiosity I have to ask how and their response to a person has been learning mental toughness.
Imagine life without adversity; how dull and dismal that world would be. Now, imagine a world filled with obstacles, challenges and setbacks. Choose wisely your mindset.