10 Simple Tricks to Maximize Your Mental Strength

man reaching for sky

Great leaders stand out for their ability to disrupt the status quo. They have the courage to make bold moves, and to innovate new solutions to old problems. Where others see impenetrable barriers, they see challenges to overcome.

This knack for seizing opportunity when things look bleak is not an innate ability that a fortunate few are born with. Instead, it represents a mental strength that is built over time and economically used. Developing mental strength takes intention, focus, and daily practice; and so does spending your mental resources wisely. Start with these 10 practices to work out your mental muscles, and to make the most out of the mental energy you have:

  1. Establish goals: with each goal you achieve, you’ll gain more confidence in your ability to succeed.
  2. Set yourself up for success: Stop wasting your energy resisting temptation or trying to find the tools you need. Want to eat better? Stock your pantry with healthy food. Want to limit distractions? Place your phone in a drawer.
  3. Tolerate discomfort: Don’t let yourself use short-term solutions to address long term problems. Instead, taking care of things the right way the first time, can help you maintain your mental reserves.
  4. Reframe your negative thoughts: Replace overly pessimistic thoughts with more realistic expectations to help you stay on track. “This is too hard to do” becomes “I am going to have to figure out a different approach”.
  5. Seek balance between emotions and logic: You can confidently move forward with decisions when your emotions and logic are in sync. Strive for a balance that allows you to live compassionately and rationally.
  6. Work towards your purpose: Write out your personal mission statement to remind yourself why it’s important you keep going, and to help you spend your mental energy where it matters most.
  7. Look for reasons, not excuses: Acknowledge and face your mistakes so you can learn from them and avoid repeating them in the future; without wasting energy dwelling on them.
  8. Say no: When you’ve reached your limit, say no with confidence. Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and allows you to successfully fulfill them.
  9. Overcome procrastination: Recognize that there is no magic time in the future where you will suddenly want to do the undesirable task. You are as motivated to complete the task now as you ever will be. Start now, and get it done! The more your practice this, the easier it becomes.
  10. Take care of yourself physically: Getting enough sleep, and eating the right foods can ensure you have the reserves you need to keep going, even as things get tough!

“I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse” – Florence Nightingale

5 Things to Include in a Performance Discussion

5 Things to Include in a Performance Discussion

March is the most common time to sit down for an annual conversation around employee performance and evaluation. Although these conversations should not take place merely once a year, this is an opportune time to consider what should be discussed in a performance feedback conversation.
What is going well?
This is certainly a time to recognize and share strengths in the areas a person possesses. What can your employees continue to do that will result in further success? Conversations around performance are a time to provide reinforcement to ensure positive behaviors will continue. How can this person best capitalize on strength areas that are really working?
What can be improved upon?
No discussion would be complete without touching on areas where improvement is needed. Communicating alternative approaches is effective. It motivates employees; and is an essential part of any discussion. Some leaders shy away from this line of discussion as it can be uncomfortable. Failure to do this, leaves an employee left with an incomplete picture of performance and little information on how to improve.
What are the expectations for the next performance cycle?
As you talk about progress on previously set goals or objectives; it is only natural that future expectations will come up. What clarity can you provide on those expectations? How will you determine if the expectations have been successfully achieved? What type of measurements in terms of cost, quality, productivity, or timeliness can be clarified?
What support is needed from you (the leader) to be successful?
This is not about taking responsibility away from someone. It is about understanding what the person needs from you, the leader. Perhaps there is a resource you are able to secure or a barrier that needs to be addressed by you in order for the person to be successful. If they are new to a task, just being available to run things by you can make a significant difference. Be sure to get the employee’s perspective on this one.
What not to include: Surprises!
Don’t blindside employees with information in a performance review that you have never mentioned. Not only is it not helpful, but it can be demotivating. A better way to approach an annual discussion is to make it a culmination or summary of the year. This should include discussions you have engaged in throughout the time period. Saving up your insight and delivering it once a year creates missed opportunities. The employee could have been acting on your feedback in a more timely fashion. Make those feedback discussions well-timed, and have them in regular cadence. These discussions will have a solid impact, and you will see a strong professional employee.