Young employees and job seekers are often told that they have to be "tough" in order to make it in the
"real world". But what does this actually mean? Obviously, office life doesn't require Rocky Balboa-style
workouts and the ability to get up off the floor after being literally knocked down. (If you're being
knocked down at work then you need another job, pronto). Mental toughness can be difficult to define,
and inexperienced employees don't always know if they have what it takes to make it up the ladder. So
with that in mind, allow us to shed some light on what it means to be "mentally strong". Master these
traits, and even if you get battered around a little on the way, you'll eventually reach your goals.
1. Mentally strong people know what they want.
During any given interaction or project, mentally strong people recognize the desired outcome over
both the long and short term. They ask themselves: "What do I hope to get out of this conversation?"
and "Why am working so hard to please this particular client or contact?" They know where they plan to
be in one, three, or five years, and they know where they'd like to be in five minutes. And of course,
they recognize that these plans and goals may change at any moment.
2. They tolerate temporary discomfort.
Early mornings are rough. So are long days, all-nighters, awkward conversations, harsh criticism, and
difficult decisions. But mentally strong people don't avoid these rough patches; they face them down
and ride them out.
3. They are flexible.
Opportunities can arrive and disappear without warning, and plans sometimes change on a moment's
notice—or with no notice at all. Mentally strong people keep up with these changes and don't miss a
4. They're kind.
Even when they're stressed, distracted, or angry, mentally strong people have the perspective to put
their own feelings aside and treat others with kindness and respect.
5. They hold on until it's time to let go.
Staying power is critical to any long term endeavor, and the phrase "Never give up!" wouldn't appear on
so many motivational posters if it didn't hold a grain of wisdom. But mentally strong people balance
bull-headed determination with intelligence and practically. They know when to hold steady and when
to change course.
6. They respect and protect their happiness.
Happiness matters. It's serious and important. Mentally strong people know this, and they don't let
people or circumstances take their happiness away without a fight.
7. They show emotional control.
No matter what happens to them, mentally strong people know that outward expressions of emotion
are within their control. They decide which feelings they'll share and which feelings they'll keep to
8. They have a powerful sense of empathy.
Mentally strong people know how to place themselves in the positon of another person and imagine
what others might be thinking and feeling at any given moment.
9. They take risks.
Strong people know that in order to make money, they sometimes need to spend money. And in order
to move forward, they sometimes need to move back. Calculated risks are part of a successful career
and a well lived life…and this includes the risk of revealing our ignorance in order to learn new things.
For more on how to navigate the rough currents of a growing career, explore the resources and job
search tips on MyPerfectResume.