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November 24th, 2013


FOR all the time executives spend concerned about physical strength and health, when it comes down to it, mental strength can mean even more.

Particularly for entrepreneurs, numerous articles talk about critical characteristics of mental strength-tenacity, “grit,” optimism, and an unfailing ability as Forbes contributor David Williams says, to “fail up.”

However, we can also define mental strength by identifying the things mentally strong individuals don’t do. Over the weekend, I was impressed by this list compiled by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker, that she shared in LifeHack. It impressed me enough I’d also like to share her list here along with my thoughts on how each of these items is particularly applicable to entrepreneurs.


1. Waste time feeling sorry for themselves. You don’t see mentally strong people feeling sorry for their circumstances or dwelling on the way they’ve been mistreated. They have learned to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and they have an inherent understanding of the fact that frequently life is not fair. They are able to emerge from trying circumstances with self-awareness and gratitude for the lessons learned. When a situation turns out badly, they respond with phrases such as “Oh, well.” Or perhaps simply, “Next!”

2. Give away their power. Mentally strong people avoid giving others the power to make them feel inferior or bad. They understand they are in control of their actions and emotions. They know their strength is in their ability to manage the way they respond.

3. Shy away from change. Mentally strong people embrace change and they welcome challenge. Their biggest “fear,” if they have one, is not of the unknown, but of becoming complacent and stagnant. An environment of change and even uncertainty can energise a mentally strong person and bring out their best.

4. Waste energy on things they can’t control. Mentally strong people don’t complain (much) about bad traffic, lost luggage, or especially about other people, as they recognise that all of these factors are generally beyond their control. In a bad situation, they recognise that the one thing they can always control is their own response and attitude, and they use these attributes well.

5. Worry about pleasing others. Know any people pleasers? Or, conversely, people who go out of their way to dis-please others as a way of reinforcing an image of strength? Neither position is a good one. A mentally strong person strives to be kind and fair and to please others where appropriate, but is unafraid to speak up. They are able to withstand the possibility that someone will get upset and will navigate the situation, wherever possible, with grace.

6. Fear taking calculated risks. A mentally strong person is willing to take calculated risks. This is a different thing entirely than jumping headlong into foolish risks. But with mental strength, an individual can weigh the risks and benefits thoroughly, and will fully assess the potential downsides and even the worst-case scenarios before they take action.

7. Dwell on the past. There is strength in acknowledging the past and especially in acknowledging the things learned from past experiences-but a mentally strong person is able to avoid miring their mental energy in past disappointments or in fantasies of the “glory days” gone by. They invest the majority of their energy in creating an optimal present and future.

8. Make the same mistakes over and over. We all know the definition of insanity, right? It’s when we take the same actions again and again while hoping for a different and better outcome than we’ve gotten before. A mentally strong person accepts full responsibility for past behaviour and is willing to learn from mistakes. Research shows that the ability to be self-reflective in an accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs.

9. Resent other people’s success. It takes strength of character to feel genuine joy and excitement for other people’s success. Mentally strong people have this ability. They don’t become jealous or resentful when others succeed (although they may take close notes on what the individual did well). They are willing to work hard for their own chances at success, without relying on shortcuts.

10. Give up after failure. Every failure is a chance to improve. Even the greatest entrepreneurs are willing to admit that their early efforts invariably brought many failures. Mentally strong people are willing to fail again and again, if necessary, as long as the learning experience from every “failure” can bring them closer to their ultimate goals.

11. Fear alone time. Mentally strong people enjoy and even treasure the time they spend alone. They use their downtime to reflect, to plan, and to be productive. Most importantly, they don’t depend on others to shore up their happiness and moods. They can be happy with others, and they can also be happy alone.

12. Feel the world owes them anything. Particularly in the current economy, executives and employees at every level are gaining the realisation that the world does not owe them a salary, a benefits package and a comfortable life, regardless of their preparation and schooling. Mentally strong people enter the world prepared to work and succeed on their merits, at every stage of the game.

13. Expect immediate results. Whether it’s a workout plan, a nutritional regimen, or starting a business, mentally strong people are “in it for the long haul”. They know better than to expect immediate results. They apply their energy and time in measured doses and they celebrate each milestone and increment of success on the way. They have “staying power.” And they understand that genuine changes take time.

Cheryl Snapp Conner is a frequent speaker and author on reputation and thought leadership topics. You can subscribe to her team’s bi-weekly newsletter


Henry Sapiecha



November 24th, 2013



How do you bring out leadership in your staff? Try these approaches for nurturing leaders, not followers.

Let’s face it, not every member of your staff is destined for high leadership positions. Most of them aren’t. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t all leaders in their own right, or at least capable of it. The trick is to not fall into the trap of seeing people as either leaders or followers.

Leadership isn’t just about ‘who’s in charge’ – that’s authority. True leadership is about who is taking responsibility for making things happen. When you look at the workplace in that way you open up the possibility that everyone can, and should, be a leader. So how do you bring out the leadership in your staff? Try these approaches.

Find their unique gifts

We often make the mistake of fitting the person to the role, instead of fitting the role to the person. Every staff member will have strengths and weaknesses. If we design our teams around those and give responsibilities to the people who are best able to fulfil them, we end up with a team of specialist leaders who work together to fill in the gaps. These teams love their work because they are being set up to succeed, feel recognised for their contributions and feel supported by the other members. Most importantly, they feel important, and that encourages people to take responsibility.

Encourage creativity, not compliance

Having a quality framework is vital to ensuring a minimum standard of product or service, but we need to be careful to make sure it doesn’t condemn us to a minimum standard of product or service. When we make compliance the king, there is no room for exceeding expectations or discovering new ways to achieve better results. If we allow our staff to be creative, without punishing them for the mistakes that are an inevitable part of that process, they can take our business to the next level.

Reward results, not time

Anyone can work hard, and if hard work is what we reward then our staff will do that without necessarily producing great results. However, when we ask our staff to be results focused and relax around how they achieve that, everyone wins. If things aren’t going well then the whole team pitches in to get over the line, but if things are moving faster or better than we need them to, the team can relax and enjoy things a bit more. It’s like any sport – we measure our success by the number of goals scored not by the amount of time on the field. Reward winning, not playing – that way everyone becomes a leader.

If you redefine leadership as the willingness to take responsibility, everyone can be a leader.


Henry Sapiecha