Mental Toughness for Riders

In my latest article for Of Horse I talk about mental toughness, and how your perspective on disappointment and discouragement lays the framework for future success.  You can read the full article here.

Mental toughness is not something you either have or you don’t–it’s a skill that you can build. It requires a realistic, objective look at where you are now, and a goal for where you want to be.

Once you have that awareness, then you are ready to begin a methodical building process. In the article, I make the analogy to physical workouts. After a tough workout, it’s likely you are tired and sore, but you probably also recognize the tiredness and soreness as signs of progress. You know that your muscles are being made stronger by pushing your physical limits.

When building mental toughness, frustration and discouragement are the byproducts of pushing your limits. Learning to embrace this “mental soreness” is the first step to building a stronger mindset. It’s also one of the most difficult concepts for many people to grasp. We have an idea that excellence should be effortless. In fact, there is about 30 years of scientific demostrating that we actually favor the idea of “natural-born talent” over the concept of perserverance and hard work. While we admire athletes who achieve greatness through drive and determination, we secretly desire to be the “natural”.

Once you understand the psychology at work, it becomes possible to steer your mindset onto a more productive course.