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Mental Strength

How to let go of the past and move on

prison-1594946_1920We all experience disappointments, heartaches and setbacks. That’s an unfortunate part of life.

When overcommitted and overworked however, we become particularly vulnerable to reliving past regrets all over again. If this unpleasant rumination is not stopped, we easily get sucked into a downward spiral of negative thoughts and feelings.

If this happens to you, here are seven techniques to let go of the past and move on:

Continue reading

How to develop resilience – strength for life

DrowningWe all experience difficulties in life, but sometimes it goes from “In every life, some rain must fall” (YouTube link here), to a flood. It can be caused by an unrelenting volume or pace of work. Or it can be caused by something deeply upsetting such as being retrenched or ending of a love-relationship.

When difficulties reach flood levels, some people are stretched beyond their limits. They don’t cope well. They feel defeated and sometimes spiral into hopelessness. Its’s as though they are drowning in a flood of difficulty and hardship.

In contrast, others cope and recover well. They manage to keep their experience of stress positive and struggle well. They are like a buoy in an ocean storm, submerged from time-to-time, but quickly bob up again. Continue reading

The Building Resilience Handbook is going free!

The Building Resilience Book

The Building Resilience Book

The Building Resilience Handbook is normally available as an e-book for Kindle at $13.65. To thank you for reading my newsletters about resilience, I am making it freely available to you for a limited period.

Have a look at some of the reviews of the book:

  • “Inspiring and applicable throughout one’s lifetime” Fred Irumba, science teacher, Jakindaba Senior Secondary School.
  • “Easy to implement at work and home. The results are remarkable!” Brent Beilinsohn, Manager, Old Mutual Investment Group South Africa.
  • “Mind blowing! Implementing these practical exercises has made me a better person” Fanuel Kakuiya, Senior Superintendent, South African Police Services.

Imagine having abundant inner strength and resourcefulness to withstand and recover quickly from whatever difficulties life may throw at you. With The Building Resilience Handbook you can. Continue reading

Seven Habits of Mentally Strong People

roots-of-big-old-treeSeven Habits of Mentally Strong People

GREAT NEWS! Watch out for the free Kindle book offer in the next email on 10 September!

Would you like to be able to cope better with difficulties, unwelcome change and heart-ache? To stay the course and not give up?

If so, you need mental strength!

Mental strength is really good stuff. It helps people persist in achieving a long-term excellence, as opposed to those who start off well, but loose enthusiasm and give up. It’s also the best predictor of success in school, the military and corporate sales, rather than intelligence or even luck.

Mental strength is built through consistently following seven habits: Continue reading

Are you completely overloaded?

Don't-overload-your-trailerOrganizations pride themselves on being “lean and mean”. Shareholders love it. For the people working there however, it often boils down to meeting higher targets with fewer people and less resources.

If this applies to you, let me guess:

  • You receive way too many e-mails?
  • You feel compelled to take on even more work?
  • You start the week determined to get your work load under control, only to end up with more items on your “to do” list?
  • At home you can’t switch off?

You end up overcommitted and overloaded.

Here’s the interesting thing: everyone complains about this overload and overstress! So is this the so-called “new normal”, and do we just have to accept it? Continue reading

Men and woman stress differently

Men and women stress differently

Men and women stress differently

Imagine carrying your weekly grocery shopping to your car in an empty parking lot one evening, and out of the shadows a person appears, waving a knife and demands your car keys. What would you do?

The answer appears to depend on whether you are a man or a woman.

If you’re a man your instinctive reaction would probably be to fight off the threat or run away. That’s the “fight or flight” response to stress we have all heard about.

If you are a woman however, your typical immediate reaction may be different. She may instinctively be tempted to talk herself out of the situation: “Let’s discuss this and see if there’s a way I can help without you making things worse.”

Her different stress response is referred to as “tend and befriend”, which is using social behaviour to befriend the enemy (presuming it is an enemy that is causing stress) and to seek social support from offspring and friends. Continue reading

Stressful job? You need mental strength!


If you feel you have a stressful job you’re not alone. 83% of workers in the USA feel stressed out by their jobs (reference here) and in South Africa it’s estimated that 60% of lost working days each year are a result of stress (reference here).

Some working conditions make jobs particularly stressful:

  • dealing with the public (nurses, teachers, call-center staff)
  • dealing with dangerous situations (fire-fighters, police)
  • complex decision-making (executives, airline pilots, project managers, IT)
  • time pressure (medical workers)
  • repetitive work (factory staff)
  • persuading (sales)
What can you do if have a stressful job?

If you can’t change stressful working conditions, then you need to develop mental strength (more here). Here’s four things to do: Continue reading

Develop mental strength with five powerful exercises


Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed? If so, you are not alone. I am often asked how to cope when you are feeling really vulnerable, but you have to be strong.

The answer, according to the highly regarded scientist Angela Duckworth, is to develop mental strength, which she calls “grit”. She has found that mental strength is what differentiates people who persist and achieve long-term excellence, as opposed to those who start off well, but lose enthusiasm and give up.

Also, she has found that mental strength is the best predictor of success in school, the military and corporate sales, rather than intelligence or even luck (more here).

Would you like to develop your mental strength? If so, there are five powerful exercises, based on Angela Duckworth’s research, which I have found to be very helpful. These exercises will help you persevere and keep motivated when dealing with big issues like unwelcome change and stress at work or home, or even sticking to a diet, a financial budget or a study plan (more here). Continue reading

5 things mentally strong people don’t do

We all want to be mentally strong to cope when bad things happen. But being mentally strong is not only for bad times, it’s for good times too. Being mentally strong is all about the way you interpret and explain to yourself the stuff that happens in your life. It’s an attitude you put into practice every day.

In previous Building Resilience Updates, I described what mental toughness is (here) and have also given the formula of how to be mentally strong (here). Now I am going to describe five things that mentally strong people don’t do and some give some alternatives. Continue reading

How to be mentally strong

Life is just not fair! That’s why we need to be resilient and mentally strong. I described what mental strength is in the previous Building Resilience Update (here), and I will now explain how to be mentally strong.

Stick with me as I give you some theory first.

At its core, mental strength is all about how we interpret the things that happen to us, as we make sense of our lives. What’s fascinating is that mentally strong people interpret the difficult things that happen in their lives completely differently to the people who are less mentally strong. Mentally tough people explain a negative event to themselves by: Continue reading

I’ve been robbed! I’ve been retrenched! I’m dropping out!

Last week started with a frantic call from a friend: “The security company called to say that my house has been broken into. The front door is broken and standing wide open. Please will you go and help?”

She was holidaying in Knysna, about six hours away. We rushed over to her house, to find drawers strewn about, and her flat screen TVs and jewelry missing.

Midweek I spent some time with two senior managers who had been retrenched. My brief was to assist them to find replacement income streams.

At the end of the week, I addressed a workshop on how the alarmingly high drop-out rate of first year university students can be reduced. Continue reading

How to Develop Grit

The previous Building Resilience blog was all about grit (click here). Grit helps children not to give up too quickly when encountering difficulty. Adults call on grit to sustain long-term relationships, pursue tertiary studies and stay task focussed in their work career. In this way, grit is an important component of resilience.

I received lots of comment from readers, most wanting to find out more about grit or asking if it can be developed. So here we go: Continue reading

Have you got grit?

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up”. This was supposed to have been said by Thomas Edison, the man who also said that invention is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

The implication is that success is due to hard work, rather than intelligence or even luck. But is that true?

Angela Duckworth may have the answer. She is a highly respected researcher on the subject of what she calls grit: “perseverance and patience for long-term goals”. She has found that grit is what differentiates people who persist and achieve long-term excellence, as opposed to those who start off well, but lose enthusiasm and give up.

She found that the amount of grit one has is the best predictor of success in school, in the military and in corporate sales, rather than intelligence or even luck. Continue reading