Develop Mental Toughness

In every endeavor, in every line of work, in your professional and private life, mental toughness gives you the edge you need to succeed.

Everyone has something they are good at, but it’s mental toughness more than talent that will give you an advantage. Mental toughness separates the good from the great. And it separates the great from the legendary.

Look at professional football and, especially, the position best known for requiring extraordinary mental toughness: the quarterback. Every QB in the National Football League has great ability; they wouldn’t be paid to play football if they didn’t. But what separates the good from the great is that ability to handle the demands of mastering a playbook and the mental demands imposed by the physicality of football, leadership of intricate teamwork and the confidence and knowledge to perform under pressure.

The classic example is the story of Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning. Leading up to the 1998 NFL Draft, there was endless speculation about which fabulously talented quarterback would be selected first: Leaf or Manning. Manning or Leaf.

The Indianapolis Colts had the first pick in the draft and needed a quarterback. Which one would they choose?

To determine their selection, Colts’ executives interviewed both quarterbacks, who both expressed how much they wanted to win and why they wanted to play for the Colts. The story goes that the defining moment came when they heard their candidates’ vastly different answers to the same question: “If you are chosen by the Colts, what is the first thing you will do?”

Manning’s reply was quick: “Study the playbook.”

Leaf’s answer? “I’m booking the next flight to Vegas so I can celebrate with my buddies.”

Football fans know what happened to each young man. Manning became a Super Bowl champion and the league’s most-valuable player. Leaf spent four disappointing years with the San Diego Chargers in a career plagued by poor performances, run-ins with teammates and the media and injuries. In short, he was considered one of the biggest busts in NFL history.

In the insurance business, 93 percent of those who become insurance agents don’t stick it out past three years. These people who quit usually lack mental toughness. I’ve learned over the years that perseverance will win out—every time—over talent.
The insurance executives in the corner offices aren’t always the most talented in the industry, but they are the ones who stuck it out when things didn’t go their way. In the insurance and financial services field, a lot of people are just testing the waters. They want to see if this line of work can make them lots and lots of money.

The insurance and financial services professional who views this as a career usually has great success. That’s because they happily work hard, coming to work early and staying late because they love what they do. Those who view this work as a job don’t succeed. They work 8 to 5 and no more. That’s because they have to work and not because they want to.

Career-oriented professionals eventually make a lot of money in our field. Those who view this as a job usually wash out. Which path do you want to follow?”

Action Step: What steps will I take to persevere in my career when things don’t go my way? Is my current occupation a “job” or a “career”?

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Book Excerpt From: Jerry Hraban. “Extreme Producers: Their Insights And Secrets.”

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