Innovation Mojo (#5): Discovering the Strength of your Mind

Being a former endurance athlete, I’ve learned a lot about my mental strength and my abilities to overcome failure while training and competing.  Challenging your body is the greatest method of discovering the strength of your mind. While there are other subtle ways to “challenge” the mind,  nowhere is this more true with physical training such as endurance or strength training. 

I remember many cold winter evenings that I didn’t feel like going to the pool to do a gruesome swim workout with my team in preparation for a summer race.  There were many days that I thought that I should quit a prescribed workout because it was getting too difficult.   But, I kept showing up to workouts, and I completed every session. This consistency is what developed my mental fortitude to get past failure. Incremental and continuous improvement each week also helped me achieve my goals and made me compete better.  This training made me discover what I was truly made of, both mentally and physically.

Most athletes can relate to the mind-body mastery and the positive impact on their personal and work life.  Here are two reasons why I continue to workout:

1. Self-Awareness:  Self-awareness among athletes is something that is well understood.  There is no lying to yourself about what you can and cannot do physically.  For example, the amount you can lift or the distance you can run, forces you to be honest and self-aware.  This self-awareness allows you to learn a great deal about yourself, and make you aware of where you are now and your potential for the future.

2. Feeling Accomplished:  The nature of our jobs today gives us in-frequent satisfaction – In most cases, it takes months to deploy a project to completion. It takes a long time to feel accomplished and to know if your efforts paid off. In weight training for example, it’s black and white. When a prescribed session is completed successfully, I feel good, accomplished and full of energy for the day. I am more confident, self-aware, mentally and physically strong. I am happy, and I feel ready to seize the day.

I’ve learned from athletics that consistency and incremental and continuous improvement over time produces far greater results. In our age of instant gratification and constant fire-fighting, this philosophy resonates exactly in what we should do at work and our personal lives for more lasting change and self-improvement.  

Key Takeaways:

1. Consistency, Incremental & Continuous Improvement is crucial for anything you want to accomplish.

2. Physical fitness goals are the best way to develop a mind-body mastery of self-awareness and mental toughness. 

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