For most of us, change is hard. It’s not lack of commitment or desire that gets in the way, nor lack of goals and ideas for improvement. How many times do we give up before we even try because we are afraid to fail? Or we might consider the odds of succeeding too low to give it our best, to test our own limits and explore our abilities. This self-sabotage thinking (driven by our inner critic) often limits us from unleashing our full potential and making change happen. Why does this happen? There are many reasons. However, our level of “grit” (or mental toughness) is a key component to our success in sticking to a plan and pursuing a long-term goal we feel passionate about. Strengthening our mental toughness is an essential piece of achieving real change.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to success. It takes a lot of effort and courage to excel at something we want to change. Most of the time, we are not ready to pay the price. We focus on the result and we underestimate the process: the time, energy, passion, and self-determination it takes to get us there.
Psychologist, Angela Duckworth, defines grit as our “passion and perseverance for long-term goals,” and claims it is a predictor of outstanding achievement. It’s “having a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do.”

“Outer changes always begin with an inner change of attitude” – Albert Einstein

Grit in the workplace

In the workplace, grit plays a critical role in successful leadership and extraordinary performance. Organizations desperately need leaders who can create a shared vision with passion and conviction and enlist others to relentlessly pursue the future.  However, the challenge to develop grit is even higher. As leaders, we often tend to jump from existing multiple projects to new promising ideas. We can lose focus and give up easily in the face of setbacks, prioritizing immediate results. Managing the discomfort of uncertainty in our culture of immediacy and impatience can be hard for leaders.
The good news is grit is not a fixed trait. We can train ourselves to grow our essential abilities and skills, and that includes our level of mental toughness. How? By putting grit into practice.

1. Focus on one improvement goal that you feel passionately about

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road’ll take you there.”
– from Alice in wonderland, dialogue between Alice and the Cheshire Cat

We need to have a clear goal and direction that is compelling enough to drive our behavior and efforts. It must be a goal that is worth pursuing, even when we fail at it.

2. Choose an ability/skill you would like to grow that generates positive change in your life and self-development

Be realistic when setting a timeframe for improvement. Do not set yourself up for failure before even starting the journey. Here are some questions you can ask to create a vision and provide direction for yourself.
Strengthening Our Mental Toughness to Achieve Real Change: Person celebrating their success

  • What do you feel passionate about and would like to become better at?
  • What would make you feel more connected to yourself and significantly improve your well-being?
  • What have you been trying to learn for years and have failed at repeatedly?

3. Shift your perspective

Commit 100%, to your improvement goal. Make it your own personal project. Do research to learn from “gritty” people who have walked the same path. Reflect on what could work for you.

4. Break your improvement goal into key-stone habits

An improvement goal can be overwhelming. However, if we introduce small changes to our daily routine, test what works best and adjust accordingly, we will discover a set of daily practices that work for us and that we can commit to.

5. Value your progress in time

Take time to reflect on your own evolution. Don’t take it for granted. Progress takes grit! Indulge yourself with a self-celebration. Ask for feedback from your circle of trust on your improvement. A journaling practice can help you reflect on your learnings and growth.

6. Be compassionate with yourself in the face of setbacks

Setbacks are part of the game. They test our level of resilience and emotional intelligence. Be kind to yourself and expect them. Focus on your gains, results will come your way.

 7. Don’t wish for it, work for it

Keep practicing! Take action. Re-commit to your improvement goal every day. Visualize yourself fulfilling your goal and choose a set of powerful motivational mantras that can help increase your energy level and focus.


Our mental toughness is the inner force we need that drives us towards our goal. It gives us the energy needed to try harder, despite our failed attempts. Grit and resilience (our ability to withstand adversity and bounce back) walk hand in hand and are key to our development.
People who develop a strong level of grit are always seeking to improve and remain connected and enthusiastic about what they do. It does not guarantee success, but it can set you on the right path.
CANCEL procrastination: Start today!!! You can test your current level of Grit here.

How much do you consciously prepare for performance? In other words, to what degree do you leave your performance to chance?
At Axialent, we emphasize that one of the main levers to achieve extraordinary and sustainable success is to take full responsibility for how we respond in the moment. Specifically, we highlight the importance of enhancing our capacity to have a conscious response to what the moment demands from us as opposed to reacting from unconscious instinct and conditioning.
When we manage to do this on a consistent basis, we tend to feel empowered as a key player in our own lives instead of experiencing ourselves as a victim of circumstances. And because we’re focused on what we can do to get the desired results, we’re more likely to get the results we’re after.
This requires a mindset that can discern between what we can influence and have control over and what we can’t. It also means that we recognize the consequences of our own action and inaction. Obviously, developing expertise, skill and competence is also necessary, and they are important elements of performance.
We can work on developing our self-awareness so that we’re more conscious of how best to respond at any moment. This is a skill, and it’s one that gets stronger, just like a muscle when we train it properly.
We can learn communication models that help us express ourselves in a more productive way. We can train ourselves to become better negotiators and influencers. There’s a reason many organizations have dedicated learning and development departments. There is knowledge to acquire and there are skills to develop that help us. But these alone may not be enough for consistent high performance.
What I find is an often-neglected element of setting ourselves up for success—in addition to developing a certain mindset and skills—is specifically preparing for optimal vitality and brain performance.
For example, you may prepare for a difficult conversation by getting some coaching and doing some role-playing, but what about your energy, focus and mindset? What do you do to make sure those are in their optimum states so that you’re more likely to have the mental clarity, patience and necessary vitality to perform?
Have you ever noticed that you tend to be less patient and accepting when you’re tired? In fact, you’re more than likely to notice yourself being more irritable and reactive when you have low energy.
When was the last time you made some mistakes and performed less than optimal because you were tired?
Have you ever experienced your brain feeling like cotton or like it was in a fog—your mind seemingly dull? How did that impact your performance? Did you still have the impact you would have liked to have?
When you experience fatigue, difficulty focusing and lack of mental clarity, there are a few things to check for.
Perhaps you were simply dehydrated. Dehydration leads to brain fog and fatigue. In contrast, showing up to a meeting well hydrated improves your brain performance and energy levels.
If you lead a team meeting, you can raise the team’s performance simply by making sure there’s plenty of water available for everyone. Encourage people to hydrate and create a culture in which it’s easy to do so.
Another important factor that determines both physical and mental performance is sleep. Taking responsibility for your performance means making sure you get enough good quality sleep.
When you know you’re sleep deprived, find opportunities to do power naps. Research has shown this helps to offset some of the effects of lack of sleep.
And, of course, your nutrition has a big impact on how you feel, how much energy you have available, the resilience of your immune system and your brain performance.
Find out what nutritional approach is best for your individual constitution. Meet up with a nutritional consultant and create a plan so that what, when and how you eat is part of your plan for success.
Finally, make sure you get enough movement throughout the day. Your body is designed to move, so move!
Being a leader means taking unconditional responsibility for your performance. It is not only about how you respond in the moment. It also means that you anticipate and prepare for challenges and your ability to respond to them by planning for optimum hydration, sleep, nutrition and movement.
Keep these things in mind as you prepare for your next important event and set yourself up for success!