Lots of people requested an article on Rough Strength mindset for a long time. It is quite interesting fact, because I don’t consider myself the most confident man out there. Far from that. I may appear tough, but inside it is not that simple. I still have that nervousness when I approach complete strangers, even after a job, where I met LOTS of new people daily (it made its impact though, I’m WAY less nervous). I know that haters are going to hate, but I still get somewhat frustrated and pissed off when my work is misunderstood for some reason. Reject still leaves bitter taste. It is still hard to cope with bad days. I still have doubts every day about literally everything. I think these feelings are essential for every person. Only ignorant and stupid people never felt this way. On the other hand, the feeling of success and creation kicks ass of any doubt and frustration easily and really hard. It is that unstoppable energy that fuels you to move forward.
All in all, confidence is always work in progress and the wall of mental toughness improves brick by brick. In this article I will try to help you with what I know works for me.
Stress Builds Character
When I moved to Kiev, I was really surprised with people that were born here. Especially with the ones of my age. While I was really excited with the opportunities and worked my ass off sometimes for 16 hours per day (you have to do what it takes chasing a dream), seems like 95% of them were just hanging out with friends, smoking pot, drinking alcohol, surfing the internet and social media and living easy lives with no desire to improve. Fuck, it is the capital. You can meet all the people you want here. How could they possibly waste so many chances?
Then came the understanding. There is almost no stress in life of those people. That is why they have no need to build character, to improve and to grow. I’m not saying here that my life is the toughest. But I know that I need to pay the rent and the bills. I need to pay for food, clothes and some entertainment. I know that in the worst case scenario nobody will help me. That is why I work as much as I can. On the other hand, those people I was talking about just live in parents’ apartments, take money from them and just enjoy their potato life.
They miss one important point. Nothing in life is stable, everything changes. Their current lifestyle can’t be sustained forever. Even small chain of unsuccessful events can leave those people in the street with no food, no shelter and, importantly, no useful skills. This could be easily avoided by exposing yourself to some sort of stress. For example, instead of taking money from parents, they could get some job. This could be a huge step forward.
Take-home point: stress builds character. If you don’t expose yourself to some sort of stress, you won’t be able to improve. What stress am I talking about?
Do What You Fear Most
Usually the areas we want to improve most are the scariest. Confidence builds upon the conquering of fears. Yes, you may know it already, but lack of confidence takes root in fear. You are scared, even terrified with something like a little girl (I leave no Rough Strength article without manly jokes!). However, once you do it and fear goes away, your confidence upgrades.
Let’s take handstand as example. Lots of people are scared to hold a free-standing handstand because of fear of falling. But when they learn that in case of overbalance getting out is as simple as putting one of your hands forward, fear leaves and confidence improves.
The same is true for any area of life. If you want to be more confident talking with strangers, then talk to them. Talk to as many strangers as you can. If you want to get more confident dealing with bullies, go fight. Don’t miss the opportunity. Soon you’ll understand that they are not that scary as you thought, and you are not that weak all in all.
“Eye Wrestling” is a good exercise for mental toughness. I learnt a variation of it from Tim Ferriss’ book “4-Hour Workweek” (which is awesome, by the way). Look in people’s eyes. As simple as that. When you talk with somebody, look right in their eyes. When you walk in the city, look in people’s eyes. There are 4 possible scenarios:
- They turn their eyes away from you (which means that you’ve won);
- Nobody turns away their eyes;
- They person you are “eye-wrestling” with can get offensive with some phrase like: “Why are you staring, punk?”. In this case you can say that you just confused him/her with somebody else you’ve known;
- You turn your eyes away (which means that you’ve lost).
Practice it whenever you can. You will notice results really soon. Another tip is to look just in one eye. If you look in both, your stare may appear crazy.
Take Charge of Your Life
Once you gain more confidence through doing what you fear, you can start taking charge of your life. No matter how hard or easy your current situation is, there is still only one person who can determine where your life is heading. Yes, it is you. Only after understanding and absorbing this fact you can make change.
If you want to lose fat, stop putting all those excess calories into yourself. Get a proper diet. “But my life is so stressful, I just crave sweets and cakes!” Grow some balls. Living deep in woods is stressful; you can get killed any second. If you think about your appearance, then your life is not that stressful after all.
If you want good job, take opportunities. Don’t just sit on your ass. If you don’t have opportunities, create them.
If you want good relationship, change YOUR bad habits first. Any change starts with you, not somebody else.
Regret of not having done something is probably the worst feeling you can have. I wish you not to experience it at all, but we both know that you will have it. That is why you need to start doing what is important to you right now.
“But what about consequences?” – you may ask. There will always be consequences. No matter what you choose. If you make decision to quit your shitty job, there will be consequences. If you decide to play it safe and stay on this shitty job that makes you miserable – guess what – there will still be consequences. The important thing to understand is that you have more chances to have good consequences by making a change than by playing it safe.
What is the worst thing that can happen if you make a change? Most of the people reject the idea of change without even answering this question. Seriously, what is the worst thing? Will you starve to death? I don’t think so. How long will it take for you to get back on that shitty track if your plan fails? If you answer these questions, change is not that scary anymore.
Most of the time to get something valuable you’ll need to make sacrifice. I’m not talking here about altars and dead animals. Regular daily sacrifice is the fastest way to your goal. How come? Let’s assume that you want to get rid of those love handles finally. You may either do what you did and get no results, or sacrifice your love for food, your free time (to count calories and macros), your comfort, your social eating etc. Basically, the more things you sacrifice, the faster you’ll get results.
Of course, not every sacrifice you do will give you faster gains. Be smart about it. You should always test and question every assumption. Never take any information as is. Test it. Question it. If something doesn’t work, you need to adjust it. However, if you do no sacrifice, I doubt you’ll get any results.
Sometimes It Is Better Not to Give a Fuck
Yes, you got it right. There are plenty of times when it is better not to give a fuck. Stress can be a good thing (as I explained it in the beginning of this article), as well as your huge enemy. I’m talking about times when you get too stressed over minor things and major things that you can’t control.
While stress can have great effect on you in terms of kicking your ass in right times, living in constant stress is definitely bad. Constant worrying causes lots of health problems. For example, ulcer. Ironically most of the people worry too much about minor things most of the time. They are too obsessed with what other people think. They worry about their look. They can’t sleep because somebody told something about them they don’t like. A lot of times people get overly stressed because of simple misunderstanding. What can I say? You better stop giving a rat’s ass about all that shit and concentrate on what you already have and what you want to achieve with your life. That’s how you’ll get on the right track to happiness and fulfillment.
Regarding major things. One wise man once said: “I never worry about things I can’t control”. You can’t control whether you die in the next second or not. Heart attack, bomb, gunshot, airplane crash, tsunami, apocalypse – these events are just a little fraction of what can happen to you in the next second. Can you control that? Nope. Is there any point in worrying about it? Totally no. If it should happen, it will. No amount of stress can change that.
The same is true for any other area of life. You may worry about some problematic report at work. You can get fucking crazy from just one thought about it, simultaneously driving insane everybody around you. Will this craze change anything? No fucking way. So why do you waste your life? Why do you make the life of the people around you miserable? You got my point on this.
It turns out that everybody has doubts. Everyday. Every minute. Articles of Chris McCombs taught me one really wise thing (among the ton of other awesome ideas): if you have doubts, then you are definitely on the right track. It may seem counter-intuitive at first glance. However, the deeper your thought travels through this statement, the more sense it makes. Doubt is a good feeling. It is uncomfortable, as well as any change. Doubt is an indicator of great things to come. Doubt will make you work harder.
The important skill you need to develop is to appreciate doubts but not listen to them. If you doubt that you’ll ever lose fat, it is good. You are thinking about improvement. However, there are hardly any people out there who can’t lose fat. Everybody can. Apply this skill to everything else.
Discipline, Determination, Consistency, Patience and Hard Work
All in all, mental toughness boils down to these five things: discipline, determination, consistency, patience and hard work. Here’s the recipe for success:
Discipline – do what you need to do to get results, with no excuses. Sacrifice the immediate satisfaction and your comfort to achieve something greater. That’s what discipline is all about.
Determination – refuse anything but results. You won’t be able to get positive results all the time, but you should be goal-oriented. Otherwise, everything you do is pointless.
Consistency – do it regularly and consistently. If you failed 100 times, try once more. The one who is consistent with the effort will most definitely reach his goal.
Patience – rush nothing. Everything has its pace. Be prepared to wait. You don’t plant a seed with expectation to get the harvest in 3 hours. So be patient. It always pays off.
Hard work – do it with highest quality and as much as needed. Every valuable thing I ever got was a result of hard work. Period.
So I will wrap up this article. It is far from the last word in mental toughness. There will be lots of people who will disagree and throw rotten tomatoes. However, I’ll reward myself with the fact that this information is online and can help you. Thanks for reading.
Alex “Get the Right Mindset” Zinchenko
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Do you have any thoughts? Do you think that mindset is not that important? Let’s chat in comments.
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P.S. The most played track during the writing of this article: