As a teacher, one of the biggest tragedies I see students consistently make is that they give up too easily. In fact, many students give up after failing just once! I am confident that if you are able to triumph and persevere through setbacks and difficulties, you can easily separate yourself from your peers. Why? Because when your friends and peers are quitting, you will be breaking new barriers. The tool you need to develop is mental toughness..
I purposefully train my mental toughness often. It isn’t fun, but when I am able to complete tasks that others won’t, I will be able to accomplish what others can’t. There lies the separation of excellence and mediocrity…
When your peers are daydreaming in class, your mental toughness will be locked-in to absorb all of the information being taught. Yes, we teachers try to make all lessons fun and engaging, but sometimes we miss the mark – I admit, the lesson could be boring! It is incredibly important to LIVE-OUT your words. It’s been said that you shouldn’t judge a person by their words, but instead, you should judge them by what they do. So when I suggest to you that you should train your mental toughness by engaging in tasks that aren’t fun, I will do the same to prove my point.
Right now, I am blogging from my gym in Winnipeg. It’s 11:30 PM. I arrived at 8:45. I am currently on a mission to complete 1000 pull-ups in 10 hours. Oh yeah…I am completing this mission THROUGHOUT the entire night. I am not leaving here until 7 AM. Why did I choose to do this at night? Simple…it takes more mental toughness to complete the task.
Here is my journey…
I have found some time in my workout to blog my progress. I have scheduled myself to complete 100 pull-ups every hour for 10 hours. I have currently completed 250 pull-ups in the first 90 minutes, so I have an hour.
How am I feeling? It’s human nature to focus on the negative…I am worried that my hands are starting to blister and are becoming extremely painful. I am worried I won’t be able to finish. I am reminded of a past world-record holder, David Goggins, who completed 4030 pull-ups in 17 hours – he had 3rd degree burns on his hands and had to stop in one of his first attempts. I don’t want that. I am fighting negativity right now.
However, my mental toughness, which I have consistently trained for years, is beginning to defeat my negativity. I am getting energized because I know that when most are getting ready for bed, I am still grinding. Overcoming challenges, huge challenges, will increase positivity and renew your mindset! I guarantee it!
Update…it’s 12:42 AM. Progress is being made: I have completed 400 pull-ups. My hands are still sore, but the pain isn’t progressing. Why? Instead of focusing on the negative, I searched for a solution: I googled a CrossFit technique for how to grip the bar properly to avoid blisters and rips. Bring on the remaining 600!
Update 2… it’s 3:19 AM. I have stopped at 676 pull-ups – kind of a weird number I know, but my body and mind needs a break. I’m not going to lie, it was a struggle to get through the 500’s and 600’s. I wanted to go home. The thought of doing another 500 pull-ups AND staying here for another five hours is beginning to torment my mind.
However, I have two choices: to remain mentally tough, keep going, and become more confident having defeated a huge challenge, or go home, get comfortable, and sleep only to wake up feeling frustrated and weak because I didn’t stick through with the challenge. The thought of the finish line is keeping me going. I don’t want to waste 676! 324 more and I am home baby!
Update 3…it’s now 4:48 AM, and I am beginning to slow down. I was doing sets of five pull-ups, now I am doing sets of 2 or 3. I am at 850 pull-ups now! The frustration I was feeling earlier is completely gone. All I see now is the finish line. It’s amazing the power that grinding through mental and physical exhaustion can have on your mindset. The feeling of accomplishment is going to be awesome!
Update 4…its exactly 6:00 AM. One hour to go to meet my deadline, and I have completed 950 pull-ups. I have a huge problem though…my right elbow is beginning to seize when I flex it. I can’t physically do anymore pull-ups right now. My plan is to rest another 20 to 30 minutes and see if somehow I can pull off the last 50. I am determined to be mentally tough, but not at the price of sacrificing the physical health of my body. I need to be smart here.
Update 5…it is 3:44 PM!! I finished all 1000 pull-ups by the time the clock struck 7 AM. What an unbelievable feeling of accomplishment. I went straight home, and fell asleep for 6 hours. My body is sore and aching. My hands are blistered up, and it’s very painful and difficult to bend my right elbow. Not a problem though, as these aches are temporary…the feeling of achievement is going to last a lifetime. The trade is well worth it.
As I reflect on those crazy ten hours of both mental and physical exhaustion, I cannot help but think of the intense struggle that I experienced. Between about 2 AM and 4AM, the urge to quit was incredibly real and powerful. I honestly felt I was going to stop. Probably more so than physically, the struggle was incredibly intense mentally. My mind was pleading with my body to stop and drive home to the comfort of my bed.
How did I get through the struggle? Two things: I focused on the joy and celebration of meeting the end-goal of 1000 push-ups, AND I spoke positively to myself all night..”You can do this!” “Go to the bar and do 5 more!” “You are more powerful than your feelings.” I refused to let negativity enter my mind…but that is a lesson for another time.
The next time I encounter a problem or a boring task that I’d rather not do, I can simply pull from my experience of 1000 pull-ups to guide me through to success and completion. For example, I really dislike marking assignments and preparing report cards. Both can become very tedious and boring. Next time I need to mark assignments or prepare report cards though, I am going to remember standing underneath a pull-up bar for 10 hours – if I can complete 10 overnight hours of physical and mental exhaustion of pulling my body over a bar 1000 times, certainly I can grade assignments for two hours! The confidence that I have earned through incredibly hard work will lead me to achieve greater success in other areas of my life later on. Now that I know I am capable of great things, minor challenges or annoyances will be easy to defeat.
You want to have an extremely successful school year? You want to achieve higher grades than you have ever achieved before? Then you need to train your mental toughness! Don’t worry though, it isn’t necessary to do so in such an extreme way as staying up all night at a gym and completing 1000 pull-ups; but you can study for an hour every night, can’t you? You can tell your friends you won’t be going to the party this time. You can review notes during your lunch-break and spares. You can workout when your friends are playing video games.
When you diligently practice mental toughness you will be ready for the boring lesson. You will be ready to study for hours in preparation for a major exam. You will be ready to complete your shift at work with diligence because you have been strengthening and conditioning your mind to stay mentally tough. Your peers? They will be quitting. They will be going to parties. They will stop when their mind tells them it isn’t fun anymore.
You tell me who is going to have the more successful school year: the student who quits when times get difficult, or the student who perseveres through challenges. I think it’s pretty obvious.
As you can see, the joy of triumph was worth the pain and agony…