What differentiates someone who succeeds in life versus one who doesn’t? Luck? Genes? Money? Well, maybe for some, but I believe that those who are the “toughest” are the ones who ultimately succeed. Now, when I say tough, I’m not referring to physical strength. Rather, I’m talking about mental toughness, or mental fortitude. Fortitude is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “Calm Courage”, and it takes a great deal of “calm courage” to succeed--whether it is on the physical playing field, or the playing field of life.
There are some people who are innately strong--both physically and mentally. Take the Tarahumara Tribe of Indians, who are known to run for days on end, in the grueling heat, traversing treacherous landscapes as a way of life, and as a way to have “fun.” Can you hear me laughing out loud? Yup. This is indeed fun for them, and they live their lives to run and run to live. In fact, Christopher Mc Dougall wrote a book about this band of people called, “Born to Run.”
But what about the rest of us, the mere mortals who find running two miles, or even two blocks, a daunting task? What makes us different than the Tarahumara?
Well, it turns out that the only thing that separates us is our mental fortitude. Indeed, these calm people run because they are not just physically strong, but they are MENTALLY strong. And we can all glean a HUGE lesson from this.
We all face challenges in life--some of us want to lose weight; some want to run our first marathon, 10K, 5K or simply walk a mile; some want to gain upper body strength; and some want to come back from injuries--ranging from near-crippling to something perhaps more simple like a sprained ankle. Whatever your particular challenge may be, in order to overcome it will require not just strength of body, but strength of mind.
Why is this so?
For me, I spent nearly 10 years racing endurance events ranging from mere marathons to Ironman distance triathlons--a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run, or a marathon. And yes, they were all in one day. And yes, they all followed each other sequentially. And yes, we “raced” to finish--we competed not simply completed. And how did we do it? We persevered.
From these years, I learned that I have far more fortitude than I ever thought I had. There were many times when I “beat” men and women who were stronger than me physically, but not stronger mentally--I never, ever gave up or give up. And I have carried this very important lesson into other areas of my life, so that when I tore my Achilles and chose not to run for a year (after much agony), and even when I’ve faced financial adversity, or break-ups or the loss of loved ones, I’ve KNOWN that I have enough “strength” to get through anything, because I will not give up. I have that calm courage.
The truth is, we all have that calm courage. Sometimes, we just don’t realize that we have it and that we can use it ANYTIME we want.
How do we persevere? Just like how we finish a marathon--by putting one foot in front of the other. Over and over and over again....You can do IT, whatever IT is. Simply call upon that calm courage and persevere. And I guarantee you, you will succeed.
Written by Stacia Carney CPT Body Firm Los Gatos, CA