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7 Ways To Build Mental Fortitude As An Entrepreneur
Mental fortitude is more than just mental toughness
Welcome to The Evolved Entrepreneur, a weekly newsletter where I share practical tips to go from “drowning in work” to OWNING your business and life.
What makes the difference between a good entrepreneur and a great entrepreneur?
Many would say talent and intelligence.
But the research studies I’ve found and the entrepreneurs I’ve spoken to say that talent and intelligence account for less than 50% of their achievements.
What made the bigger impact than talent or intelligence?
Building mental fortitude is more than just developing mental toughness, it’s about building capacity
7 practical ways to build mental fortitude as an entrepreneur and leader of people
7 Ways To Build Mental Fortitude
Mental fortitude is more than just mental toughness.
I just got back from co-facilitating a warrior training retreat for men. A conversation with one of the guys there really stood out for me.
He came to the retreat wanting to build more mental fortitude to show up more powerfully in his work and life.
I asked him what would help forge that mental fortitude for him.
He wanted tools and practices to build mental strength, warrior-like focus, and emotional steadiness.
I hear this a lot from entrepreneurs I work with. They associate mental fortitude with grit, stoicism, and hyper-masculine traits.
Yes, mental fortitude is all that AND it’s much more and runs much deeper than just that.
True mental fortitude is the capacity to respond to a range of emotions and experiences without being attached or stuck in them.
As an entrepreneur, you understand the roller coaster of emotions and experiences in the entrepreneurial journey.
Mental fortitude is being able to ride the flow of that roller coaster without drowning in the highs or lows. To choose how you define each experience, what you want to take away from it, what you want to let go of because it doesn’t serve you, and more importantly, to keep moving forward.
Here are 7 practical tips to build mental fortitude as an entrepreneur:
1. Write down your Issues and Problems
Write it out and it’s halfway solved.
The surest way to not solve your issues and problems is to keep worrying about them, in your head.
Worrying and overthinking will disconnect you from the present moment.
It’s only in the present moment that you can strategically think of the solution, create a plan, and execute it.
Writing out your issues and problems is a way to organize your thoughts.
If you don’t already have one, create an Issues List for your business (and even one for your personal life).
Write out all the pending issues and problems
Prioritize which ones are most important to solve right now
Choose one to start with
Come up with the solution and plan
If it can be delegated, decide who can this be delegated to
Delegate it (not to be confused with abdicating it)
Track the progress
When resolved, mark it completed
Do the same with all the issues on your list
Keep adding to your Issues List as you go
The key here is to have a living document to keep tracking ongoing issues. A single place for you to log and organize your thoughts.
Invite your team to contribute issues they’re seeing or experiencing in your company.
2. Organize your Feelings, Regulate your Nervous System
Similar practice to the first.
Create a Feelings Journal or log, track and organize your feelings and emotional triggers.
While your Issues List should be public to your team, your Feelings Journal can be private to you.
The Habitual Hustler archetype by default is avoidant to their feelings, often believing their emotions make them weaker and are a distraction to their entrepreneurial muse.
The Evolved Entrepreneur understands that their feelings carry wisdom and being attuned to them allows them to tap into a source of power and creativity for their muse.
Mental fortitude is less about emotional resilience and more about emotional flexibility and responsiveness. It’s a capacity to meet all your emotions—anger, frustration, sadness, grief, fear, joy—and regulate your nervous system.
I’ve found that an unregulated nervous system, personally and collectively as a team, is the biggest obstacle to mental fortitude and momentum in teams.
How do you lean more into your feelings when they’re uncomfortable or come second in priority to your work?
Create a system to organize and track them.
Create a Feelings Journal
Time block the end of your work days
List out the feelings and emotional triggers you experienced each day
Check in with your body, which one still feels present (loud or subtle)
Where in your body are you holding that feeling
If that feeling could express itself, through sound or movement, what would it do
If it has a voice, let it speak. If it wants to move, let it move through body
Process the feeling until completion, then come back to your calm center
Check in, what do you (or your body) need right now
Notice how it has nothing to do with the person, thing, or event that triggered that feeling.
Your mind will want to go straight to problem solving or “fixing”. But that’s what the Feelings Journal is for, leave the problem solving in the Issues List.
Your Feelings Journal is about organizing and processing your feelings, regulating your nervous system, and building capacity so you move forward.
3. Let go of what happened, focus on what you’re going to do about it
Mental fortitude is to operate in creator consciousness, not victim consciousness.
It’s not about what happened, it’s about what you choose to do about what happened.
Your launch didn’t go the way you wanted
Your new hire is not meeting expectations
Your numbers went down this month
Dwelling on what went wrong in your business gives more power to what you can’t change, the past.
Reflect on what went wrong
Draw the lessons from it
Integrate the lessons into what you’re going to do next
Focus on creating your future
Lots will go wrong on your journey, it’s built into the definition of entrepreneurship.
You can view it as something happening TO you. Or you can view everything as happening FOR you.
This not only builds mental fortitude for you, but trains your team to operate in creator consciousness as well.
Victim consciousness attracts more victim consciousness.
Choosing to create the business and life you want, gives your team permission to do the same.
4. Turn off the Spotlight Complex
One of the biggest obstacles keeping entrepreneurs like you from showing up fully in your work and life, is the spotlight complex.
The reality is, nobody is thinking about you the way you’re thinking about you. Everyone is busy thinking of themselves.
Nobody is evaluating you the way you’re evaluating yourself. They’re all busy evaluating themselves.
Yet, we give so much power and energy to what we think others are thinking about us.
Turn off the spotlight complex, stay present and focused in your lane, and go all in.
5. Shapeshift into a mentally stronger version of you
Mental fortitude is the capacity to respond to all emotions and experiences.
Mental fortitude is to be a shapeshifter.
To be able to shift into an identity or version of you that better serves where you want to go.
The opposite of mental fortitude is not mental weakness, it’s mental rigidity — the inability to change or adapt.
Each season of life, stage of business, and level of entrepreneurship will call for a new version of you.
The ones who struggle with mental fortitude are the ones who stay in denial and avoidance when called to shift and transform.
The ones who answer the call, discover a power and strength that comes with the identity shift.
Don’t get me wrong, shapeshifting will come with its share of challenges too. You will experience resistance, the death of the old self, grief, and likely feel confusion and lostness during the transition. Surrendering and taking ownership of this shift will create the magic you’re looking for.
But it’s by far less challenging and draining than staying complacent with a version of you that no longer serves you and what you’re being called to do.
If you’re feeling that call to shapeshift:
Realign and get clear on your long term vision
Identity WHO you need to be to make that vision a reality (your Future Self)
Close your eyes and visualize what your Future Self’s life looks and feels like
What are the qualities, beliefs, and values of your Future Self?
What would it look and feel like to embody your Future Self now?
Notice any resistance in your body. If there are any, where are you experiencing it?
What does this resistance to this new identity need?
What would letting go of this resistance look/feel like?
Your nervous system needs to feel safe to hold this new identity and uphold this new set of beliefs in order for you to shapeshift.
Most people think building mental fortitude is mindset work, it is and more truthfully, it’s identity work.
6. Cultivate deep presence in your work, your life, and your body
Presence is the cornerstone of leadership potency and power.
Signs of low mental fortitude:
Obsessing with work as a way to distract yourself from what’s really going on
Checking out instead of being fully present with people around you
Disconnecting from your body and avoiding what it’s trying to tell you
We disassociate from our body to ignore the pain, at the cost of cutting our connection to our emotions and our ability to experience.
You can’t build mental fortitude without allowing yourself to experience the pains and pleasures.
Presence allows you to interface with reality, instead of just your ideas of reality.
As Thoreau wrote in Walden, presence is the difference between an invisible man/woman leading a life of “quiet desperation” and a man/woman who turns heads as they walk into a room.
You can feel the potency of a leader’s mental fortitude through their presence.
Being present means not being drowned in your mental chatter, anxiety, and fears. Not drowning about the past, what has happened, or what others are thinking about you.
The key to presence is:
Attention and retention of attention
Connecting to your senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell
Being grounded in your body
Presence is the cornerstone of potency and power in mental fortitude, leadership, and heck, even sex.
7. Face your Shadows, integrate them, and leverage them
Alongside Identity Work, I believe Shadow Work is one of the most powerful tools to build mental fortitude.
You are only as strong as your ability to explore and integrate the parts of you that you don’t love.
To integrate your shadows is to take back your power from them.
Until you integrate your shadows, your 7-year old self (unconscious self) will be the one running your business and leading your team.
Mental fortitude is to operate your business and lead by DESIGN, rather than by DEFAULT.
I’ve helped many entrepreneurs take their business to the next level, simply by guiding them to meet and integrate the parts they don’t love about themselves. The power they reclaimed poured into their business and team. The “strategies” and “tactics” solved themselves along the way.
There’s too much to write about when it comes to shadow work. I’ll save this for another newsletter.
In the meantime, here’s a great guide I recommend on doing shadow work.
There you have it, the 7 ways to build mental fortitude as an entrepreneur:
Write down your Issues and Problems
Organize your Feelings, Regulate your Nervous System
Let go of what happened, focus on what you’re going to do about it
Turn off the Spotlight Complex
Shapeshift into a mentally stronger version of you
Cultivate deep presence in your work, your life, and your body
Face your Shadows, integrate them, and leverage them
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