Mental Toughness – A Formula for Success

posted on: April 13, 2013
author: Brian Lomax

Swimmer Celebrating Victory

Want a formula for being a successful athlete?  Try this.

Optimism * (Persistence + Resilience) = Success

To understand this formula more completely, let’s define our terms starting with Persistence and Resilience as they are the base elements in the equation.  Persistence is the ability to sustain effort throughout a performance.  We often see this as “not giving up” and giving your best effort at all times.  You can’t win consistently if your effort level varies within a performance and from event to event.  It’s a key ingredient in the competitive skill set.

Resilience is the ability to recover from adversity.  It describes your ability to deal with mistakes, failures, losses and other negative incidents that may occur.  As an athlete, you have to accept that some level of adversity will occur in competition and you need to be able to bounce back from that.  It requires perspective.  In general, you can’t change what’s already occurred so you need to move on and direct your focus onto something you can control.

Both Persistence and Resilience are important character traits of great competitors and they work together.  Watch any of the world’s best competitors and you’ll see them giving their best effort at all times and they’re ability to be resilient helps them continue that effort no matter what occurs.  When adversity does occur, they’re able to move on quickly and refocus their efforts on what matters.  These two traits go hand in hand, and every athlete should work on improving them.  So how would you like to exponentially improve your persistence and resilience?  Work on your Optimism.

Optimism is the tendency to expect the most favorable outcome.  In a competitive situation, it means you expect to win.  You expect to be successful.  The more optimistic you are, the more powerful your belief in the positive outcome.  As I mentioned in a previous post on Confidence, belief, whether it is rational or not, is a key ingredient in achievement.  Optimism drives belief.  Belief drives achievement. Achievement drives increased Optimism.

Great competitors always believe they can win and they always believe they can play better and better when they are performing.  That’s the power of optimism.  It raises your standard of excellence and it opens your eyes to achieving greater and greater things in your career.

In our success formula above, the multiplicative factor is Optimism.  It can double, triple, even quadruple your ability to persist and to bounce back.  Over time that effect can be exponential.  An easy way to understand the importance of this is to consider the effect of Pessimism on Persistence and Resilience.  If you expect to lose or expect bad things to happen, your effort level suffers.  What’s the point of trying and bouncing back if you’re going to lose anyway?  There is no point so you end up quitting mentally.

Optimism, Persistence and Resilience are key elements in mental toughness and being a great competitor.  Use the formula above to take advantage of the power of Optimism to improve your Persistence and Resilience.  Practice expecting the best possible outcome and you’ll notice a difference in your results.  When you see that difference, you’ll drive your Optimism factor even higher.

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About the Author

Brian Lomax founded PerformanceXtra™ in 2009 with a mission of helping athletes achieve their goals and their top performances more consistently through a progression of mental skills that enables them to focus on what is truly important.

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One response to “Mental Toughness – A Formula for Success”

  1. paco hernandez says:

    Fantastico I stronly belive in this so keep it up

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