Despite West Point Military Academy’s rigorous selection process, one in five students drop out by graduation day. A sizeable number leave the summer before freshman year, when cadets go through a rigorous program called “Beast.” Beast consists of extreme physical, mental, and social challenges that are designed to test candidates’ perseverance.
University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth conducted a study in which she sought to determine which cadets would make it through the Beast program. The rigorous interviews and testing that cadets went through to get into West Point in the first place told Angela that IQ and talent weren’t the deciding factors.
So, Angela developed her own test to determine which cadets had the mental strength to conquer the Beast. She called it the “Grit Scale,” and it was a highly accurate predictor of cadet success. The Grit Scale measures mental strength, which is that unique combination of passion, tenacity, and stamina that enables you to stick with your goals until they become a reality.
To increase your mental strength, you simply need to change your outlook. When hard times hit, people with mental strength suffer just as much as everyone else. The difference is that they understand that life’s challenging moments offer valuable lessons. In the end, it’s these tough lessons that build the strength you need to succeed.
Developing mental strength is all about habitually doing the things that no one else is willing to do. If you aren’t doing the following things on a regular basis, you should be, for these are the habits that mentally strong people rely on.
You have to fight when you already feel defeated. A reporter once asked Muhammad Ali how many sit-ups he does every day. He responded, “I don’t count my sit-ups, I only start counting when it starts hurting, when I feel pain, cause that’s when it really matters.” The same applies to success in the workplace. You always have two choices when things begin to get tough: you can either overcome an obstacle and grow in the process or let it beat you. Humans are creatures of habit. If you quit when things get tough, it gets that much easier to quit the next time. On the other hand, if you force yourself to push through a challenge, the strength begins to grow in you.