Mental Toughness and Sacrifice

This is something I came across recently during some googling about game development.  I think I searched “What you need to make a game”, more just bored in a waiting room and looking for an interesting article to read.  One of the top hits was a google book result for a book about “Mental Toughness”.  The book itself was geared toward athletes but I found it telling that this was one of the top results for something like video game development.

It got me thinking, what does it take to be successful in life?  What does it take to succeed in the endeavors we face in the day to day grind?  The answer really is Mental Toughness.  Well, that combined with sacrifice.  So what is mental toughness, what makes someone mentally tough?

  • The ability to delay gratification. This basically boils down to instead of sleeping in, or watching television, or doing something easy, you delay that to focus on what needs to be done.  The ability to avoid instant gratification is one of the main attributes of the mentally tough.
  • The ability to get it done. Giving up is not an option for the mentally tough.  The concept does not exist for them.  They don’t understand the words “can’t” or “won’t” they just do.  Even if it takes them years, even if it costs them more than they were ready to give, they get it done (whatever “it” is).
  • They know how to fail. Failure is not a word the mentally tough understand.  There is no such thing as failure to them, only learning experiences.

fight to move

Sometimes you will have to fight to keep moving

There are other points to being mentally tough but I think these three are the most relevant.  You can apply these things to your day to day and try to accomplish what you want in life.

Some people think mental toughness is an innate ability, I have to disagree with that.  I think anyone can learn to be mentally tough, it’s a skill like any other, it just takes practice.  The idea of toughness on its own is something hard to pin down, but it boils down to the ability to put up with discomfort and keep going.

To become physically tough takes training and practice.  The more you work out the easier it gets, your ability to put up with discomfort increases.  The same can be said of mental toughness.

The more you force yourself to work, to delay gratification and do something that’s hard the easier it will get.  The more you force yourself to be mentally tough the more you’ll be able to withstand.

So what does mental toughness have to do with game development, writing or the day to day?  I think it’s obvious but it comes down to pushing through the unpleasant.  Writing and game development are things I’m doing on the side, they are things I want to succeed at.  Sure they can be fun but they can also be difficult and frustrating.  Sometimes the last thing you want to do is work on these side projects after a long day of paid work.  Sometimes I just want to get home from my after work workout and lay on the couch eating chocolate (and sometimes I do).

That’s where mental toughness comes in.

gray sky

Sometimes the skies will be gray and the future not so bright

Combine Mental Toughness and Sacrifice

Being mentally tough allows you to sacrifice more, and sacrifice is an integral part of mental toughness.  Sometimes you need to sacrifice sleep, or partying, or rest if you want to be successful.  Sometimes you need to give up a lot to reach the top.

People only ever see successful people when they reach the top, no one sees the pools of failure and pits of sacrifice they had to crawl through.

Combining mental toughness and sacrifice is the best way to reach your goals and to be a success.  Mental toughness will help you on the way to the top.

Not Everyone Can be a Success

With all that said here is something to be aware of.  Something I have had to face a lot on my path in life.  Not everyone that tries will succeed.  You can sacrifice all you have, you can grind every day and you can still end up getting nowhere.

We only ever see the successful people, not the piles of those that failed before them.  We never see the guy who toiled away in obscurity, only those who made it big.  A lot of times the “big time success” is like hitting a lottery.  So why bother?

I do it so I can live without regretting that I never tried.  I do it because of the satisfaction it provides.  I do it because without the struggle there is no reward.  Find why you do it (and let me know in the comments).

Besides, the more mentally tough you get the better you become at dealing with failure.  And you will fail, many times.  Everyone who has ever made it has failed along the way.  So build that mental toughness and you’ve already got one major part of what it takes to be successful.

Thanks for reading.

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1 comment

Great article. Couldn’t be write much better!
Keep it up!

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