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Lessons in Mental Toughness from Indiana Jones

It’s been all over the news recently. Star Wars (and Indiana Jones) actor, Harrison Ford, made an emergency landing on a golf course after the two-seater World War II vintage plane he was flying suffered engine failure on take off.

Co-star Carrie Fisher is quoted as saying: “I know you have incredible bounce back, please take a bounce break for awhile. Can I drive next time?”

We’re not privy to the reasons why Mr Ford has incredible bounce back, or how he came to develop such resilience,  but it is likely that he has perfected this skill during his 72 years on earth.

Learning to bounce back is something that we all have to do because even with the best made plans, setbacks are inevitable.

The ability to manage setbacks is recognised in successful leaders: how a leader deals with setbacks distinguishes a great leader from a good one. What do you do when things don’t go your way? Do you take it on the chin and make lemonade from life’s lemons or do you have a mental moment and fall apart blaming yourself and/or others?

Mental toughness, or resilience,  isn’t something that we’re born with, not even if you’re Harrison Ford. Mental resilience is enhanced by a high level of self-awareness and emotional control; it involves our behaviours, thoughts and actions and like many skills it can be developed over time.

Mentally resilient people have the following things in common:

1. They are focused on their goals: By focusing on their goals, mentally resilient leaders will take setbacks in their stride and quickly look for alternative solutions to get to their goal. They don’t waste time wondering what could have been, they keep working on what will be.

2. They keep things in perspective: Mentally resilient leaders know that failure comes with risk. They play the long-game and recognise that setbacks are a part of the journey.

3. They practise positive self-talk: Mentally resilient leaders believe in themselves. They don’t beat themselves up over a set-back or judge themselves harshly. They are confident in their abilities while at the same time they don’t expect to know everything.

4. They take care of themselves physically: Physical well-being is a core component of mental resilience. Mentally resilient leaders know that if they’re hungry or tired they’re less likely to maintain a positive mindset and more likely to react emotionally to a setback.

So, we learn to bounce back from setbacks through greater self-awareness and emotional control. By managing our behaviours, thoughts, and actions we learn how to mentally move on, or in Mr Ford’s case, to take a bounce break.


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