Keeping mentally tough during challenging times

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Daniel P. McGuire
  • 388th Fighter Wing Command Chief
There is no doubt we live and lead in some of the most challenging times in history.

That said, what is really meant when someone refers to being mentally tough; both very powerful words. I have been through many challenging times throughout my career and I have grown as a leader regardless of the outcome. I think it is because of the approach I take when encountering them.

I like to view things through the eyes of preparedness. You may ask, what does that mean? There is a limitless amount of propaganda regarding techniques to reach a steady level of readiness. I find the basics work just fine for the majority. These are often lessons learned while growing up. Let's look closely at a few.

How does one ensure a positive mental state? I believe it's all about attitude. When you wake up and look in the mirror are you looking at someone that feels they did everything the day before to instill pride in self, coworkers, and the overall organization?

If you're honest, the answer will differ from day to day, and that's ok.

Regardless of your answer, it is a learning experience. When I answer no, I do a self assessment of why. What were my distracters, challenges, or obstacles that made me feel like I fell short? I use these to set my plan for the new day.

If I answer yes, I simply reflect back on the day and ensure I capitalize on what went well.

It sounds simplistic but there will be days when you just don't know. I believe this is caused by the inability to accept the inevitable. These are things that you have no control over. You can apply your leadership tools but at the end of the day, just commit to the fact that you gave your all.

As for the physical aspect, it goes without saying lack of physical preparedness causes stress. This is countered with routine play, exercise, and proper rest.

Sometimes I believe as adults we turn our workouts into unrealistic regimens. I encourage people to find ways to get there stress relieving exercise through things they enjoy. For me it is anything with a competitive outcome. I find that while I am involved in this type of exercise the regimented aspects get worked in.

Whether you agree or disagree with the offered approach, you will not be making healthy state of mind decisions if you are not physically and mentally sound.
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