Are we tough? What can we endure? Mentally tough people trust themselves. They know that there are limits, but they are pushing those perceived limits, persevering in the face of what others might deem impossible. Developing mental toughness takes stumbling and falling on our faces sometimes but realizing that getting up is possible and carrying on is better. The human mind is powerful and can, through experience, develop the strength to overcome adversity. Mental toughness is like a muscle. It needs to be worked to grow and develop, and its strength is built up through small wins.
Firefighting requires courage and resilience, two major components of mental toughness. When the alarm sounds, I need to be ready, physically, and mentally. At a fire scene, I need to knock down one fire at a time, recalling habitual behaviors that have established a new norm in my brain that says, “You can do this.”
Mental toughness means I can push the limits because I trust in myself and know I am prepared and ready to do what needs to be done. Each previous fire, extrication, or medical call has increased my mental strength to be able to handle each one that will come in the future. Fighting a fully involved fire will test my mental toughness and make me mentally tougher.
Advance or retreat, there is always a choice. We need to learn to listen to ourselves above the noise of others and build the daily habits that allow us to overcome distractions and break down challenges. Mental strength isn’t about a dose of inspiration or courage; it’s about habit and persistent movement toward our purpose. We build our mental toughness muscle, learning to believe in the power we have within ourselves to achieve our goals. Adversity will only make us stronger. We train our minds to resist the urge to quit, to be content with comfortable. We must know that if we show up, we will succeed.