The Importance of Mental Toughness

posted May 28, 2013, 10:26 AM by Tia Karelson
June 18, 2012
This blog post originally appeared on WomenVenture's site on June 13, 2012.

WomenVenture asked the question, “What Would I Tell My Start-up Self?” The result is the contribution “The Importance of Mental Toughness.” WomenVenture is a fantastic organization dedicated to supporting women-owned businesses.

The Importance of Mental Toughness

I started Market Karma LLC, a strategic marketing consultancy, earlier this year. Last week WomenVenture assigned the blog topic, “What Would I Tell My Start-up Self?.” This is the knowledge you wish you’d had before starting your business. I thought of practical advice, such as, do the hardest task first thing in the morning to get rid of the elephant in the room, prioritize networking contacts, track expenses, be prepared for very little income at the outset, etc… While these are good pieces of advice, they could be included on a standard checklist. 

The more important lesson I kept coming back to was mental toughness. Mental toughness is the ability to stay focused on your goal in the face of obstacles. An unexpected obstacle I encountered was other people’s fears, or as my coach calls them, “saboteurs.” You have plenty of your own fears, but then family, friends, and strangers speak them out loud, asking pesky questions, “What are you doing about health insurance? How will you find clients? What makes your business any different?” and on and on. Many are legitimate questions, but the tone is panicked, there is an expectation of failure. Despite that, the conversation may end with a heartfelt congratulations and the statement “I wish I could do that.” And that is the piece to take away, “I wish I could do that.” 

You are doing it. You, along with the fears you conquer every day, are doing it. Sports commentators often note that the distinction between an athlete and a champion is not talent, it is mental toughness. Staying focused, and true to your goals, gives you the opportunity to succeed on your own terms. And when your friends tell you they’re starting a business, you can say, “Go for it. It’s the best thing I ever did. How can I help?”

I am grateful for the opportunity to create and build Market Karma LLC. It is an adventure, and whether it succeeds or fails, I did not let fear, mine or anybody else’s, get the best of me.