This morning during a good frosty long run, I listened to Tom Bilyeu interview David Goggins on the Impact Theory Podcast.

David Goggins. Have I mentioned him before?

Life hero extrodinaire.

He made the comment that he would be so lucky to grow up in this generation of ours. The Millenial generation. Because there is such a shortage of mental toughness. To be almost at all tough is to be ahead of the game.

Full quote, because it’s Goggins and he doesn’t deserve to be paraphrased:

It’s so easy to be great nowadays, because everyone else is weak. If you have ANY mental toughness, if you have ANY fraction of self-discipline–the ability to not want to do it, but still do it–if you can get through to doing things you hate to do; on the other side is greatness.

Shivers, folks. Tingles.

We are a lucky generation, then aren’t we, fellow Millenials? It’s easier than ever to be great.

I want to share with you four things that have helped me become more mentally tough. By no means a comprehensive list, and by no means a list I’ve perfected. Simply a list of what tools I use to help me want to go run for hours and go do things that suck.

1. A mindset I work on:

Sometimes, in the darkness, in the coldness, my alarm goes off. It’s shrill. It’s daunting. It’s merciless. It’s asking me to go entirely against my instinct; to shake myself out of the pleasures of dreams and from the folds of warmth.

It goes off earlier than it used to, these days. Earlier than a lot of other alarms. The mornings are colder than they used to be. The temperature is colder than it will be later in the day, when the sun hears its own alarm.

In these moments, I really don’t want to get up. I really don’t want to exchange my nice, toasty PJs–the very ones I spent an entire night warming up–for frigid, rigid running clothes.

And in these exact moments–the moments when I most feel like not–I become really happy.

Because I know that I’m going to do it anyways.

And I know that that is going to make me feel really good after it’s all said and done.

I know that when I come back from my run, and I set down my frozen, useless waterbottle, and I clamber out of my clammy, chilly running gear, and I finally stop shivering, that I am going to brew myself a cup of coffee and that sweet, hot nectar is going to pour down my throat and rejuvenate every nerve ending and every sinew in an awesome way.

A feeling that I wouldn’t get if I just went from bed to coffee.

I get happy because I know that it’s in these moments I become stronger.

It’s easy to go for a run when I’m feeling motivated. When I want to go for a run. It’s hard–it’s freaking difficult–to go for a run when I don’t want to go for a run.

I love going for a run when I don’t want to go for a run.

Do the hard things.

2. Podcasts I listen to:

To anyone who wants to run longer, I say: forgo the tunes.

I credit the ability and desire to run for multiple hours almost solely to podcasts. That’s how it all started. That’s how it all happened for me.

I select the podcast the night before. That way, when I wake up–and every fiber tells me to sink back in bed, damnit, we’ve got to survive the winter!–I get a little tiny surge of excitement over the podcast I’ve chosen for the morning.

That little surge of excitement is enough to make me put on pants.

When I am listening to podcasts, the left side of my brain is engaged. I’m not just mindlessly running, I’m running and learning (and learning about whatever I want to learn) and it’s an entirely different experience.

Often the podcasts I chose are motivating. I have people in my head having a conversation on how beneficial it is to suffer and the rewards of struggle, while I am suffering. It’s the perfect opportunity to put into place what I am listening to.

I want to share with you a few of the episodes of late that have most motivated me:

1. Impact Theory Podcast | Tom Bilyeu Meltdown Keynote 2017

Tom talks about his struggles with a fixed mindset, building himself to become an entrepreneur, and his mission to bring people out of the matrix.

2. The Tim Ferriss Show | #138: How Seth Godin Manages His Life — Rules, Principle, and Obsessions

I expected this episode to be amazing, and Seth 10x’d expectations. He’s incredible. Seth Godin is the author of 17 bestselling books that have been translated into 35 different languages. He writes about the way ideas spread, marketing, strategic quitting, leadership, and–most of all–challenging the status quo…In this episode, we cover dozens of topics and stories, including some he’s never discussed publically before. Here’s a small sample: a list of the audiobooks he listens to repeatedly, some once per month. His morning routine, breakfast, dietary habits, and email processing Meditative practices. Why he’s fixated on and has mastered coffee and vodka, despite the fact that he consumes neither…

3. The Tim Ferriss Show | #288: Lessons from Bozoma Saint John — From Spike Less to Uber, From Ghana to Silicon Valley

In 2016, Billboard named her Female Executive of the Year, she appeared on Fortune’s 40 under 40, and Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People. She’s a badass female power.

4. Impact Theory Podcast | #027 Jim Kiwi on How to Unlock Genius and Uncover your Superpower

Jim Kick is a globally recognized leader in memory improvement, brain performance, and accelerated learning. In his lifetime, he’s sustained two traumatic brain injuries that left him with significant learning disabilities. But despite the obstacles he had to overcome in recovery, he became obsessed with the brain and it’s superpower-like capabilities.

5. Jocko Podcast | 92: Pushing the Envelope. Overcome and Adapt. Ultra-Winning Mindset of Marine Corps Combat Engineer, Rob Jones.

Rob Jones was hit with an IED while stationed in the Marine Corps. Suddenly finding himself as a double amputee, he overcomes everything to complete a month of marathons. Jocko, a former Navy SEAL commander, brilliantly asks the right questions. This podcast gave me the absolute tingles the entire time.

3. Books I read:

The Best Minds of My Generation, by Allen Ginsberg.

He discusses the “Beat Generation”, the time when Jack Kerouac, Boroughs, Ginsberg, and other writers combined jazz rhythms, absolute truth, and writing to challenge every notion of literary greatness.

You don’t have to want to become a writer to enjoy this. It is written for those who want to do things differently.

Letters from a Stoic, by Seneca.

Stoicism–not the stereotypes apathetic school of mindlessness, but the teaching of patience, forbearance, resignation, delayed gratification–is the future.

Stoicism teaches delayed gratification. Have you ever heard the famous lines uttered by Siddhartha, written by Hermann Hesse? “I can think, I can wait, I can fast”, and got the shivers?

Those three things are perhaps the most valuable of all skills.

If you are interested in cultivating them, stoicism is where you should begin. And if you are interested in stoicism, you should read Letters from a Stoic.

Or Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Or Enchiridion by Epictetus.

Those cats are the kings of stoic philosophy.

4. Things I watch:

When I come back from Uni or when I’m in between “to-dos”, I just want to…chill. Calm down. Relax. Not think for a bit.

It’s all too easy to lose myself in an episode of something, and then lose all my drive to do things with the day. After watching a show, it’s doubly more difficult to resume the “to-dos”; I feel relaxed while watching the show, but then it’s like it’s slowly sucked all my motivation.

So instead I go on YouTube, and I watch an Impact Theory quote. These little bursts–3-4 minutes of absolute greatness–refocus me. They rejuvenate me. They reboost everything.


Who are You Prepared to Become? (4:01)

Change Your Mind Change Your World (4:19)

What Price Are You Willing to Pay For Greatness? (2:57)

Embrace the Suffering (3:53)

Be ahead. Cultivate mental toughness. Question everything. Do the opposite of the norm.

Peace and Blessings,


3 Comments on “Four Ways to Cultivate Mental Toughness

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