Review and Reflect: Growing Mentally Stronger Every Day — #reviewandreflect

Review and Reflect: Growing Mentally Stronger Every Day — #reviewandreflect

Model for Mental Strength

This is TheSchoolHouse302’s monthly #reviewandreflect, wrapping up our focus on Mental Strength

Major Takeaway for this Month:

Problems can be overcome by having a powerful purpose.

  1. Stay positive by visualizing and anticipating a better future. 
  2. Be rational by breaking down the situation so that you can understand each aspect of the problem to respond appropriately.
  3. Remain focused by knowing where you are going and how your daily contributions are meaningful and impactful.

Three Minute Challenges

Throughout the month we offer 3 Minute Challenges to develop the skills necessary to be mentally stronger. Identifying a goal is critical, but it’s only valuable if it is supported with decisive action. 

How well did you do on the challenges this month?

Staying Positive

I’ve identified one key area of my life that I want to focus on and improve. I know if I grow in this area it will impact many others.

Remaining Rational

I tried Box Breathing when I started to feel a little overwhelmed or anxious?

Staying Focused

I Identified one thing that I should do every day to stay focused and build resilience.

Great Leaders Are Avid Readers

One of the most powerful ways to fuel your thinking and continue to grow is to be a voracious reader. Below are the three must reads we’ve featured this month.  

                               

What an expert has to say about mental strength:

We were thrilled to interview Amy Cooper Hakim this month. This powerful interview reveals how we can view situations practically and rationally. We all know how hard this is to do when we are confronted with some very tough issues in life, both personally and professionally. 

What we’ve realized here at TheSchoolHouse302 through our interview with Dr. Cooper Hakim, the books, and other research is that developing mental strength is an ongoing process that requires effort and dedication. Like most things in life that are worthwhile, our efforts must be geared towards progress not perfection.

That’s our Review and Reflection on mental strength

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple and maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Please let us know how our leadership posts are working for you, what you are reading to improve yourself, and your thoughts on leadership and growth here on our blog and Twitter. Follow our #onethingseries podcast on iTunes and our #readthisseries on YouTube. 

Joe & T.J.

Avoid Blurred Vision by Harnessing the Power of Focus for Mental Strength — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

Avoid Blurred Vision by Harnessing the Power of Focus for Mental Strength — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

One word comes to mind when we think about mental strength: resilience. The immediate question, though, is how do we develop this incredible quality? The ability to bounce back, get up when you’re down, or pivot to something new during the most challenging times is a critical skill for leaders.

Quite frankly it’s not just a skill, it’s a mindset. The belief that our purpose is greater than our issues, and that the only way to persevere is to stay focused, is what allows us to make a truly meaningful impact. This doesn’t mean that we ignore reality, but rather embrace the words and wisdom of J.K. Rowling: “rock bottom became the solid foundation in which I rebuilt my life.”

Developing our mental strength requires focus. This means that we must always focus on our current situation, focus on our future, and focus specifically on how to become stronger mentally between now and then–for the sake of now and then.

  1. Single out one thing in your personal or professional life that will ground you to move forward regardless of the circumstance. This can be a loved one, your faith, or your belief in humanity. This is the basis for your need for mental strength.
  2. Identify something that typically detracts you from staying focused, derailing your attention despite your best efforts. This might be social media or something else that keeps you from remaining diligent. This is the thing that keeps you from being stronger.
  3. Pick something that you should do every day to build your resilience and focus on what matters. For example, exercise matters. Whether it is for physical or mental fitness, there are things we must do routinely to develop our mental strength. This is the strategy you’ll use to be more focused and mentally strong.

Pro Tip: Find the learning opportunity in every situation. Everything we encounter in life presents us with an opportunity to learn. We’ve often heard the need to “find the good in every situation,” but if we are being real, we have to admit that there are situations where “good” just isn’t available, but learning always is. This quote by Canadien Poet, Shane Koyczan, sums it up: “if your heart is broken, make art with the pieces.” When we focus on learning, we grow stronger for ourselves and others.

Reach out and share your story with us.

Stay tuned for more challenges, reflection questions, leadership models, podcasts, and more by following theschoolhouse302.com. It’s our job to curate, synthesize, and communicate so that you can lead better and grow faster. In a world plagued by nothing but noise, we help you by getting to simple.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.

 

Powerful Tools for Staying Rational in Tough Times — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

Powerful Tools for Staying Rational in Tough Times — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

Feelings are invulnerable to rational thought. ~ Stephen King

“The sky is falling.” We would love to think that irrational thinking, fear, and panic, are reserved for only the young or immature, as in the case of the timid and frightened Chicken Little. Yet, we know better. On some scale, large or small, we’ve all fallen victim to irrational thinking. The Chicken Little fable, passed on through the centuries, is intended to guide us as a reminder that bravery and courage are needed during tough times. Whether through the worries of everyday life or the horrors of war, we need stability. The ability to remain rational in the face of challenging times requires mental strength. 

Mentally strong individuals see situations for what they really are so that they can respond appropriately. Chicken Little’s fears were not real. Yes, an acorn fell from the sky, but Chicken Little’s panic prevented the chick from knowing what really occurred. In our own lives, we do experience situations that are real and very scary. COVID-19 is an example of how our lives are upended with a threat that can be deadly. The challenge for leaders is in moving forward, with poise and calmness, during this pandemic and beyond so that our “new normal” is productive rather than just disruptive. 

The key to being rational when everything seems irrational is in having specific methods to use, naming your pain-point, and reminding yourself about your actual circle of control. Take the following 3-minute challenge to realize how that works for you. 

We all need tools that allow us to take the necessary steps to remain in control. It’s critical that leaders respond to situations effectively, regardless of the circumstance. There are three important steps that all of us can take to remain strong and thrive in the most difficult scenarios, now and in the future.

  1. Identify 2 specific methods that work for you to help regain your center and experience a sense of calmness and balance. Personally, we are fans of Box Breathing
  2. Provide (for yourself) a description of exactly what is bothering or frightening you in any given moment of time or in general as you read this post. Put a name on that specific emotion or fear. Naming the emotion allows you to bring it forward. 
  3. Remind yourself about true control. The only thing that we can ever really control in life is our own efforts, attitudes, and behaviors. The reminder can serve as the center of your breathing or other technique from #1. 

Tools I Use to Regain Peace of MindCommon Issue(s) that Frighten or Cause AlarmWhat I Am In Control of Each Day
Box BreathingBecoming Ill and Unable to Serve My Family  Creating a Healthy and Nutritious Diet for Strength of Body and Mind 



Pro Tip: Take it slow and be patient. If you are new to deep breathing techniques, don’t rush the process. Reactions may range from feeling dizzy to forgetting what number you’re on in the box. Don’t worry about that. Accept the truth that everything of value takes time and lean into the process of learning to master your method. 

Reach out and share your story with us. We love to hear from our audience. 

Stay tuned for more challenges, reflection questions, leadership models, podcasts, and more by following theschoolhouse302.com. It’s our job to curate, synthesize, and communicate so that you can lead better and grow faster. In a world plagued by nothing but noise, we help you by getting to simple.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.

Visualize Your Best Self to Improve Mental Strength — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

Visualize Your Best Self to Improve Mental Strength — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

Uncertainty creates doubt, doubt creates fear, fear creates panic, and panic results in chaos. The thing about this sequence of emotions is that it can be prevented. The first crucial step to preventing chaos is in recognizing when uncertainty has begun. When you are able to see your emotions for what they are, you are better equipped to shift your focus on the future by harnessing optimism and clarity.

Too often, individuals and organizations normalize chaos, and in times of uncertainty it can happen faster than ever, taking hold quicker than we can even react. All it takes is a dash of doubt, and you can be on a chaotic rollercoaster of events. The difference for great leaders is that their poise prevails over panic, their calmness confronts chaos, and their fortitude fights fear. 

Leaders who exhibit mental-strength-muscles focus on and visualize a brighter future for themselves and the people who they serve. Just think of a time when you anticipated something terrific, and it happened that way. This future-forward process for visualization is no different. When we take time to see our best selves by looking in the mirror for what we want to see, we actually then work to be that person throughout the day. Positivitivity is an intentional act and an ongoing decision. Positive leaders bring out the positivity in others through mental strength and the calm that comes with clarity of purpose.

The 3-Minute Challenge

The power of visualization cannot be underestimated. In The Rise, Sarah Lewis describes how superior archers transition to shooting less frequently, combined with other practices, like meditation, they begin to visualize more often. Seeing the arrow hit the target in their mind trains them to do so more accurately in practice. Taking time to clearly see our future, ourselves in it, and even how an event should unfold is an effective way to focus and improve our performance. This means that we must take time each day to visualize a better tomorrow, an improved outcome, and a better self. Don’t be afraid to dream big. Pick any area of your life and with clear detail write it out. Answer these three quick questions to start your visualization: 

  1. What is one area of your life that you want to improve? 
  2. How would it feel if you were mentally fit enough to be better in that area on a regular basis? 
  3. What do your behaviors look like–visualize them in action–if that area is at its best? 

Pro Tip: Visualization takes practice. Try not to get frustrated with yourself when you lose concentration or when your visualization is fuzzy. One way to practice is to think of a great memory and hold onto to that time and feeling in your mind. Spend a few minutes with the past to project the future. Maybe it’s a time when you won an award or when you took your kids to Disney and they met Mickey Mouse. Regardless of the event, the key is to home in on a specific moment–remembering the scene, the emotion, and the experience. This process will help you to understand more about what you want to feel and do as a focus for the future. Remembering the specifics of a quality emotional experience allows us to recreate them again more easily.

Reach out and share your story with us.

Stay tuned for more challenges, reflection questions, leadership models, podcasts, and more by following theschoolhouse302.com. It’s our job to curate, synthesize, and communicate so that you can lead better and grow faster. In a world plagued by nothing but noise, we help you by getting to simple.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.

Flex Your Mental-Strength-Muscles Using These 3 Leadership Tactics — #SH302

Flex Your Mental-Strength-Muscles Using These 3 Leadership Tactics — #SH302

“I tried to do so many things to fit in. But when you look in the mirror, that’s the one person you can’t lie to.” – David Goggins 

April 13, 2013 at 2:49PM, two bombs exploded, killing three people and injuring hundreds of others. The Boston Marathon, the quintessential 26.2 mile race, an event that symbolizes patriotism and honor, was attacked by two assailants. Simply put, they sought to terrorize and destroy. Soon after the horrific bombing, the message Boston Strong was plastered everywhere. It quickly became a source of strength for many. This single symbol of solidarity gave people the mental strength to push forward. In times of need, it isn’t the physical aspects of ourselves and others that we need to be tough but rather the mental toughness that allows us to endure. 

In all facets of life–sports, work, friendships, heroes–we tend to admire people who possess superior physical strength. Marvel characters like Thor and Wonder Woman impress us with their size and power, but the reality is that mental strength is much more important in our day-to-day lives. As we think about the toughest times in history, the individuals who emerge demonstrated true grit and mental vigor. Whether we look to Mother Theresa or Winston Churchill, the greatest leaders throughout history are the ones who maintained mental strength over physical prowess. Granted, physical health is important, it certainly sells at the box office, and most of work for a toner physique, but our accustomed manner in which we go looking for strength by way of seeing muscles is deceiving.

Mental muscles aren’t available for the eye. Mental strength is all about training the mind, putting in the psychological reps, so that we can find the courage to continue in even the greatest of hardships and difficult scenarios. It’s what leaders lean on when everyone else seems to be falling apart or coming unraveled. 

If you’re reading this–especially now–it’s because you want to lead better and grow faster. Embrace the formula below to flex your mental-strength-muscles. 

The Ability to Stay Positive 

Staying positive during a crisis, or even through daily trials, is tough. Our emotions can easily be hijacked by worry and fear. These feelings grow as uncertainty about the future looms. One powerful way to stay positive is to imagine or visualize your best self. We know that the seasons of life will pass, looking optimistically towards the future is a proven way to remain hopeful and anticipate a better day. 

Fighting Against the Alternative 

So often it seems that we are simply “wired” to be pessimistic. Negative feelings and worst case scenarios come naturally. Our human nature is one of protection, and in many situations this benefits us. The hurdle we face is how to use the information we receive to put us in a position to protect ourselves and others rather than consuming our thoughts and paralyzing our actions.  

The Capacity to be Rational

Mentally strong individuals possess similar qualities that help them wade through some of the most trying and difficult circumstances. They learn to give up or let go of defeating behaviors and attitudes that aren’t productive.They remove “the bad habits” associated with brooding, worry, and doubt by thinking rationally about the reality of the moment. The key, says expert Dr. Amy Cooper Hakim, is to remove emotions, especially negative emotions. 

Fighting Against the Alternative

Being rational, essentially taking out the emotion, is no easy feat. Admittedly, sometimes it feels good to wallow and embrace the darkness. Dare we say that it even may provide some degree of comfort, since the pain is very real. This approach, though, in the long run, doesn’t provide the relief and comfort we naturally seek. We need to discipline ourselves to take the necessary steps to remain in control of how we respond to situations regardless of the circumstance.

The Commitment to Remain Focused 

Mental toughness requires commitment and resilience. This may seem counterintuitive. One would think that in order to stay focused and committed you need mental toughness, but it’s the other way around. You need to focus on mental strength to actually have it when you need it. That’s the unique quality of mentally strong leaders; they practice being strong so that they can retrieve their highest levels when called upon. This requires nothing less than a conscientious and deliberate effort.

Fighting Against the Alternative 

Losing sight of our goals and long term plans can easily occur when the daily grind seems insurmountable. We take our eyes off of the prize and the little things consume our thoughts and then dictate our behaviors. As Stephen Covey clearly articulated, we need to fight against what seems urgent to focus on the important stuff. If we don’t stay focused on the big picture, we never have the reserves needed to see a brighter future.   

Because our world is seized by COVID-19, we’ve dedicated this month to mental strength. The greatest opportunities to grow and become your best self are during times of crisis. We hope this message is useful and inspiring. God bless.

Stay tuned for challenges, nuggets of wisdom, reflection questions, technical tips, and the best resources for leading better and growing faster. Follow us at theschoolhouse302.com to join thousands of leaders who get our alerts, blogs, podcasts, and more.

Let us know what you think of this #SH302 post with a like, a follow, or a comment. Find us on Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, & SoundCould. And, again, if you want one simple model for leading better and growing faster per month, follow this blog by entering your email at the top right of the screen.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.

#readthisseries: 3 Books You Need to Read to Build a Stronger Team

#readthisseries: 3 Books You Need to Read to Build a Stronger Team

#readthisseries Don’t miss this vblog on books you need to read to lead better and grow faster. We recommend three titles that are must-reads on the topic of building a winning team. You can find our catalog of great leadership books at theschoolhouse302.com — click on #readthisseries. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDegdbmh8W0&w=560&h=315] Hadeed, K. (2017). Permission to screw up: How I learned to lead by doing. New York: Penguin. Krzyzewski, M. (2010). The gold standard: Building a world-class team. New York: Hachette Book Group. Lawrence, K. (2017). Your oxygen mask first: 17 habits to help high achievers survive & thrive in leadership & life. Austin, Texas: Lioncrest. As always, please like, follow, and comment. If you have books that we should read and recommend, please let us know that as well. Joe & T.J.