Book summary of: Executive Toughness by Jason Selk
Over the past few weeks, I have been reading Executive Toughness by Jason Selk in the hope of getting a better understanding of mental toughness. I noticed I was in a season of laziness and wanted to see if I could learn how to turn that around. The below blog post is all the notes I wrote down when planning the podcast episodes. The podcast episodes have been embedded below if you prefer to listen instead of reading. Hope you find this content useful!
(Part 1: Foundations of Mental Toughness)
Define your win.
The first step to developing mental toughness is defining what your purpose is. Without completing this first step, your journey will lack vision and reason, which will likely lead to you giving up. It doesn’t matter what stage of life you are in, defining your purpose/ calling is one of the most important steps to developing your mental toughness.
Examples of someone's purpose are:
• Serving others
• Achieving greatness
• Making the world a better place
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to purpose.
The second most important step after identifying your purpose is to identify your priorities.
There are many things they can be like your: faith, finances, family, career, hobbies, education, relationships, and health, etc… However, it’s been realised that humans are only capable of successfully managing three priorities at a time.
Before moving on, you should first identify your top three priorities for the next season of your journey.
My three priorities are my study, my business, and my health. This doesn’t mean they will always be my priorities but they are for this current season that I’m in.
“Self-image is essentially how you view yourself, what strengths and weaknesses you believe you possess and what you believe you are capable of achieving”.
Maxwell Maltz first identified the concept of self-image in his groundbreaking book Psycho-Cybernetics. He wrote:
“You will act like the sort of person you conceive yourself to be. More important, you literally cannot act otherwise, despite all your conscious efforts or willpower. This is why trying to achieve something difficult with teeth gritted is a losing battle, Willpower is not the answer. Self-image management is.
So what is self-image management?
Self-image management is the correct message to yourself about yourself. Continually focusing on experiencing the success your desire causes your own belief in your ability to grow. When you develop a true belief in yourself, you become capable and powerful.
This is why playing a 30-second “movie” of you living out your purpose in life is so important every day.
One tip to making the 30-second movie more effective is to make it as specific as possible. For example: Does your vision start with you at work or home? What room are you in? What’s on the walls? Who are you with? What are you feeling?
Make sure to cover multiple aspects of your life like your family and work life and how they interact with each other. The more specific you get, the more real it will feel.
Once you have identified your purpose, priorities, and a 30-second movie of your ideal life, you will be ready to start your mental toughness journey and be able to achieve any goal you set for yourself.
(Part 2: Accountability - Doing what needs to be done)
Goals that really work
“To achieve greatness, you must set end goals and place significant emphasis on what it takes to accomplish them”.
Individuals who write down their goals will have nine times the success of those who don’t put their goals on paper.
3 Obstacles to effective goal setting
We rarely think about our goals enough. Often, we will think about them at the start of the year or every quarter but, this isn’t enough. you need to think about and execute your goals daily. Weekly goals should be the bare minimum.
Not keeping score is a big reason we lose focus and motivation toward achieving our goals. If we cannot evaluate how far we have progressed toward a goal, we cannot keep ourselves accountable to the goal we set. Every goal you set should be measurable and should therefore have a number attached to it.
The Paradox of the End Goal
The final big obstacle to achieving your goals is focusing on the end goal and not the process. For example, when a baseball player thinks in his head “I need to get on base” or a basketball player thinks “I need this to go in” as he shoots, he will be much more likely to miss. Instead of focusing on the result, you should focus on the process.
“focusing only on the “shot”, or the desired result, adds pressure and distracts the mind from the fundamentals of the process. Your mind can only focus on one thing at a time”.
Think back to the priorities you listed earlier. it is now time to turn those priorities into three specific and measurable goals. These end result goals are called product goals. Some examples of product goals are: Earn a promotion to regional manager by June 1, Lose 20 pounds in 6 months.
What if your priority is hard to measure?
If your priority is hard to measure like being a better parent, you should add a 10-point scale to the product goal. For example, “Be the best parent I can be (6 to an 8 ) by the end of the year”.
Most people will usually stop once they’ve set their product goals. However, it’s important that you then set 2 or 3 process goals for each product goal. Process goals are specific tasks that you need to complete every day to reach your product goals. An example of process goals for someone that is trying to lose weight could be: Do 30 minutes of cardio a day, eat 5 fruit every day and drink 8 cups of water per day.
When setting your process goals, make sure you chose things that will make the biggest difference, and move the needle. Don’t just give yourself extra work for the sake of being busy.
Now that you know where you want to go and have listed the specifics of how you’re going to get there, you need to create an evaluation system that will help keep you on track.
“Daily evaluation is the key to daily success, and daily success is the key to success in life and career”.
Every night you should ask yourself the following three questions:
1. What three things did I do well today?
2. What is the number one most needed improvement for tomorrow?
3. What is one thing I can do differently to make the needed improvement?
This can be done for each product goal individually or all together at once.
(Part 3: Improving Consistency and Execution) Chapter 8-10
100 Second Mental Workout
Jason originally developed this mental workout for professional athletes but then found this can also be used for anyone looking too: stay positive, focus more efficiently and, execute their key points of performance.
The book says: “Your mind can be strengthened just like a muscle. The mental workout is a concrete and proven process that delivers results in the same way as a physical strengthening plan. That is, if you complete the exercises as instructed regularly, you cannot help but become more mentally tough”.
The five steps to this workout are Centering Breath, Identity Statement, Vision and Integrity Highlight Reel, Identity Statement again, and another Centering Breath.
This is how you can complete each step:
Step 1: The Centering Breath
1. Breath in for 6 seconds
2. Hold for 2 seconds
3. Exhale for 7 seconds.
Step 2: Identity Statement
To create your identity statement, identify how successful you want to be in different areas of your life. This only needs to be a sentence or two long and should be repeated. An example of this is: “I am confident and passionate about my work. I am the most creative marketing executive in the country”. This should take around 30 seconds.
Step 3: Vision and Integrity Highlight Reel
For the next 30 seconds, you should focus on what you need to do today to make your identity statement come true. “Visualizing trains your mind to stay focused on your control points. To best develop that focus, visualise in the first person, feel the emotions associated with success, and run the reels in actual time.
Dan Gable was one of the most successful wrestlers of all time and was mainly known for his extreme levels of discipline. I won’t share his whole story but you should definitely study his work ethic and discipline. To sum up the Gable discipline, there are three main areas:
1. Prioritise your discipline
2. Finish what you start
3. Try, try again.
Here are some tips to help make discipline a habit:
Being disciplined can be exhausting and we only have so much discipline to go around in a day. This is why it is important to make sure we limit anything that can tempt us to not being disciplined. Examples of this could be putting your phone in another room when working, not having your emails open, or turning on the TV to see what’s on.
“Over Practise” Discipline
Discipline is a skill that can be trained just like any other. This is why you should look at your daily goals and chose to overachieve them one day per week. For example, if one of your daily goals is to do 30 minutes of exercise, one day per week you should push yourself to out work past that goal and do 40 minutes of exercise.