Mental Toughness = Recession Profits (Part 1)

by Victor Cheng

In my last post Dealing with Adversity: The Michael Phelps Way, I talked about how Michael Phelps got creamed in one of his best races last week… and then the next day, came back and shattered a world record.

This is how the champions deal with adversity. They don’t lie down and play dead. They get back up and fight.

One comment in particular caught my eye as it shares a story that really makes this point that mental toughness is absolutely critical to winning in any endeavor.

It comes from Marcus Belardes, Director of Operations, Asqew Grill a restaurant with several locations in and around San Francisco. His comments appear below. My comment on his comments appear in Part 2 of this post Mental Toughness = Recession Profits.

“The Michael Phelps story reminds me of being a grunt in a Marine Corps infantry regiment (1st Battalion 5th Marines, the fightin’ fifth!) during the first Gulf War. I quickly learned that winning was the ONLY option. Second place sucks in combat!

I took the lessons from this little war to the restaurant business and they’ve served me well during my career. However, many of my coworkers and bosses thought I was a bit crazy until this current recession.

The reality of survival of the fittest (or the best, fastest, strongest, etc.) isn’t just a theory anymore.

But as this recession stretches out I also remember the mental toughness that was required during those challenging times.

The never give up mentality when it was over 120 degrees in the summer and below 45 degrees during the winter nights. You have to keep going and never quit.

Well before the war one of my company commanders took us on a  long run to teach us this lesson. Must have been 8-10 miles. We  always slowed down a block or so from our barracks and stopped in front to wind down and stretch.

But one day he took off again after slowing! About half the company quit!

They just stopped running. He took us up about a half block, turned around and came right back.

He looked around and said, “Some of you quit because you already decided where the end is. And when you had to go farther you couldn’t do it. Don’t set yourself up mentally for failure.”

I have never forgotten that lesson. It doesn’t mean don’t have a strategy or plan for your success. It simply means that the world changes quickly in combat (and in this recession) and you have to be prepared to go further and farther than you ever imagined.

It’s gotten easier for me to pass this lesson along over the last several months. This recession will end but I don’t look at it as a negative or a struggle. I look at it as a gauntlet and test of leadership that will serve me well down the road.”

– Marcus Belardes, Director of Operations, Asqew Grill

I love this story.

While most of us are dealing with what I call the battle to protect our lifestyles and livelihoods, the game of winning and losing in combat is far more serious. It’s literally life and death.

There is nothing like learning from those who have face even more adverse conditions than you have and who have had even more at stake than you do.

Marcus – thanks for sharing.

If you’re smart, you will re-read Marcus’s story to make sure the lesson sinks in.

You can read Marcus’s comment and the comments made by others on my post Dealing with Adversity. You can read my response to his comments in Part 2 of this post on how Mental Toughness in a Recession leads to greater profits.

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