In terms of instilling the values of mental toughness and work ethic, discipline is the gift that keeps on giving.
All coaches preach it. All athletes know they need it. But why does it allude 95% of the population? Is it genetic? Is it how you were brought up by your parents. Maybe you were coddled as a child growing up. Maybe you were given everything without earning it. Maybe you just don't have what it takes. Or maybe you make excuses whenever someone asks you a tough question where you have to be honest with yourself. Maybe you make blame people in your life where you are at today. Maybe you feel like if only the world were more how thought it should be, things would be different. I'd venture to those of you reading this that you were at one time, or maybe right now, have felt like this. Feeling mad at the world, mad that your parents didn't push you, mad that the other guy got the starting spot, mad that you didn't get noticed. We all have. But how long are you going to be a little kid, blaming everyone else for where you are at. We are the story we tell ourselves. What story do you tell yourself?
Displaying mental toughness is a habit. Discipline is a habit. Everything from flossing your teeth to hitting every rep to getting quality sleep contribute to your total discipline. D
Discipline is cumulative. Every time you do the thing you know you should, your discipline muscle gets stronger. Every time you use an excuse, your excuse muscle gets stronger. Make excuses enough, and it's nearly impossible to dig yourself out of the hole YOU created. The same can be said about practicing discipline. Forget to practice your discipline? Those who have built up their immunity against excuses will vow to learn from their forgetfulness, without judgement, and move on to the next play.
How Can We Cultivate Mental Toughness?
The formula is incredibly simple. It's laughable. It's so simple a 5 year old would understand it fully in 5 minutes. If it's so simple, how do 95% of the population fail at cultivating mental toughness?
Ok, I get it. The formula is simple, but now, tell us. Ok, here it is.
Each Moment + Overcoming Mind Telling You to Quit = +1 Mental Toughness
Breaking it Down
Each moment, each time you are feeling like stopping and you overcome this chatter, you add to your mental toughness reserve. For some of you, you are in the negative and it will take a while. For example, you sit down to study and 5 minutes in your Mind tells you to quit, to start something else, to watch TV, to go on Facebook. But, you say screw that and overcome this attempt at taking you off course. This adds to your mental toughness. Now, some tasks are menial like flossing your teeth and cleaning up after yourself but it adds up every day.
One more example is more relatable to a lot of you. This involves training, fitness, and living healthy. It's easy to get jacked up and excited about starting a new program, a new diet, a new lifestyle. But anyone can start something. Sticking to it day after day even when the Mind starts to tell you it's ok to stop, that one day won't hurt and it's only 1 box of girl scout cookies is precisely how you add to your mental toughness. Overcoming these Mind obstacles every day adds to your reserve. Pretty soon, you are a indomitable spirit. You are a HOGG.
So how does this relate to the HERO'S JOURNEY?
You may very well be on the Road of Trials. This Road is not easily crossed. Not easily traveled. But, overcoming the Mind and listening to the heart, your gut, your balls--whatever you want to call it will lead you closer. I'll leave you with an inspiring story about Bruce Lee and a friend of his.
Bruce had me up to three miles a day, really at a good pace. We’d run the three miles in twenty-one or twenty-two minutes. Just under eight minutes a mile [Note: when running on his own in 1968, Lee would get his time down to six-and-a half minutes per mile].
So this morning he said to me “We’re going to go five.” I said, “Bruce, I can’t go five. I’m a helluva lot older than you are, and I can’t do five.” He said, “When we get to three, we’ll shift gears and it’s only two more and you’ll do it.” I said “Okay, hell, I’ll go for it.”
So we get to three, we go into the fourth mile and I’m okay for three or four minutes, and then I really begin to give out. I’m tired, my heart’s pounding, I can’t go any more and so I say to him, “Bruce if I run any more,” –and we’re still running-”if I run any more I’m liable to have a heart attack and die.” He said, “Then die.” It made me so mad that I went the full five miles.
Afterward I went to the shower and then I wanted to talk to him about it. I said, you know, “Why did you say that?” He said, “Because you might as well be dead. Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”