By: Aditi Surana – High performance coach and Founder of APT Mental Gym
A great or even a revolutionary business idea can die an untimely death if the person behind it loses his or her conviction. We have all seen artists, business tycoons and celebrities losing their professional edge due to an unstable mind. Men can easily lose their focus at work if they are not mentally strong. Here are some tips from an expert on how Men can become mentally strong at work.
Work can be demanding, stressful and at times can even consume a Man. In recent times we have been seeing a rise in burnouts and terms like ‘Quiet Quitting’ emerging and becoming a trend. Thankfully, like your body, your mind is trainable. You can practise some easy mental workouts to be mentally and emotionally fit. With a bit of practice, you can learn to stay calm, even in the face of conflicting and challenging situations.
Here are five tips for men to be mentally strong at work:
Identify your triggers
Have you ever observed that someone’s words, expressions or behaviours can trigger uncontrollable reactions? A part of you knows that you are getting carried away. And yet, you let anger, resentment or any other disturbing emotions take control.
For instance, imagine you have a slightly rebellious or defiant nature. You get triggered and annoyed by anyone speaking to you in an authoritative or rude tone of voice. Once triggered, you will remain in that mood for a long time. It will almost be impossible for you to take any inputs, advice or guidance from that person. Even if it is beneficial.
If you genuinely want to break these unhelpful triggering loops, then you need to begin with identifying these patterns.
Mental workout – Closely observe what happens in your body and mind when you are about to react. Do you breathe heavily? Do you start getting hyper? Do you sweat? Do you feel sad? Body and mind are closely related. Next time when you’re about to react, all these indicators will help you track your own behaviour.
You can never expect new improved results with old tricks. We all know how essential it is in the area of technology. Most men know the power of experimenting in business or your professional life, but rarely have I met men who experiment with their mental agility, emotional intelligence and ability to be resilient.
Trying new things, hacks or methods to solve a work problem at hand is not about how big or complicated the problem at hand is. It’s about how willing you are to try new things to find the answer.
Mental workout – Next time when you feel stressed, worked up or lost in a situation, try this. Just as an experiment – do not give into your victim story. Observe your thoughts. Do you say things like – why me? How could this happen to me! How horrible is this? Next time you catch yourself doing that , do not ignore it. Ask yourself – can I try some other way to solve this problem? Is there any other way out? Find a person who’s great at it, and ask them what they do to be mentally strong at work!
Stress is not a bad thing
Imagine you are driving on a huge, open road in your favourite car. You look at your fuel tank and realise that you are running out of fuel. You see the red light blinking – How would you feel about this situation?
You may say, Aditi, that depends. If I know that I can reach the fuel station in time, then I will treat this sign as a mere indication. However, if I know that there is no fuel station around for the next 100 kms, then I will panic and feel anxious.
Don’t you think the same thing is applicable for your work stress? Let me show you how.
People think stress is bad and feeling worked up, lost or exhausted is a thing to avoid. What if we treat stress as an indicator of your lack of skill? Just like the red light on your fuel tank.
Mental workout – Think of stress as an indicator that tells you that you either don’t have the mental bandwidth or the skillset to solve the problem. Find ways of building skills and practice them enough to feel that you are equipped to go beyond the challenge. Stop taking stress personally. If you feel stressed about something, ask – ‘What can I do to build this skill in the next 3 months?’ and then act on it.
Create your next avatar
Every great athlete knows the kind of game he or she would like to play to become champions and for that, they keep practising the uncomfortable, difficult strokes over and over again, until they master the game.
Find your next Avatar at work. Define your skill gaps and prepare yourself not for the goal, but for your next Avatar. James Clear, the author of a best selling book Atomic Habits says – Every action that you take towards your future self is like casting a vote.
When I started my podcast ‘Daily mental fit bit’ which is just three minutes long, I used to take 45-55 mins to conceptualise, write & record each episode. It felt tough and time consuming. I asked myself what’s my next avatar here?
My avatar was to master the skills needed to record each episode in less than 15 minutes. When you start thinking about your next avatar, you will actually start building the skills that are needed to become a proficient professional. It took more than 110 episodes for me to get my recording time below 15 minutes, without compromising the quality of the content. And now it takes me just 5 mins to record each episode.
Mental workout – Start designing your future Avatar. Ask – what skills should he have? Like a video game avatar, make a list of all the skills your future Avatar must have. Once the list is ready, then start developing it – one skill at a time.
Challenge yourself in areas other than work
As a high performance coach, I have worked with many business leaders for more than 17-18 years. Most of them are super successful men who didn’t have other hobbies, other than their work. They felt great when they succeeded in their work and felt horrible when they couldn’t.
I hacked this problem by asking them to pick a serious hobby. ‘Serious’ is an important word here. We evaluated their progress, failure and struggles in the area that was not their profession. It was less threatening and they were more experimental. It was easier to receive negative feedback and most importantly they had more fun.
Mental workout – Pick a serious hobby like a sport, music or art form. Set new learning objectives. Find ways to practice the skills that your future avatar will have in this hobby project. For instance, if your avatar has ‘leadership skills,’ then practise them in your football game by volunteering to be a captain.
Finally, my bonus advice, especially for men, is to look at their emotions very carefully. It is very easy for you to suppress them, or not talk about them, and say that you’re fine, when you’re hurt. But if you do not deal with your emotions, they become an impediment in the future to be more creative.
Suppressed emotions are like boiling lava! They make you unstable, unpredictable and volatile. They impair your decisions. To overcome this, follow a simple mental workout – try handwritten journaling technique. It is the best way to release emotions.
Remember, you can train your mind and your emotions by practising the right kind of mental fitness tools. Make it your priority right away.