Executive Toughness: The Mental-Training Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance


Executive Toughness: The Mental-Training Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance

  • By Ian Bradley
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Jason Selk

There is a considerable literature on goal attainment with multiple books providing tips on how to stay focused, measure progress and even celebrate achievement. I will not provide the reader with yet another creative decoding of the SMART acronym. However, in Executive Toughness not much text is devoted to these concepts.

I thought of this paradox, as I read Jason Selk’s book on executive toughness and remembered my first day on the job some thirty years ago as the newly installed Chief Psychologist of a major hospital in Montreal. I remember being struck by the enormity and barrenness of my new office that contained nothing offer than a large desk with a solitary phone. Although I had passed a rigorous selection process to get this job, I really had no clue about what a chief psychologist actually did.

I secretly hoped that that phone would on day ring and someone would tell me what to do.

Here’s what Selk says about that process:

… most of us spend our life waiting; waiting for the next big idea; waiting for a promotion, the next reorg, never realizing the importance of deciding what it is we need to do ourselves to achieve our goals… we must define your own win.” 

Besides helping me establish my own goals, I could have benefited from Selk’s book because after defining my goals I would have formally written them down and reviewed my progress to their attainment on a regular basis- activities that are major determinants of goal success. Along the way, I would have also learned about the importance of defining process versus outcome goals since both are necessary for success. Knowing what you want without knowing how to get there, doesn’t really help that much.

Recognizing that the first step is always the hardest, Selk counsels readers to begin with an intermediate goal. If you want to make ten cold calls today then start with a goal of three and then let the resulting momentum carry you forward to the last seven.

I’m not sure that this book will make executives emotionally tougher, but if toughness flows from successful accomplishments, then this book is a great start.

It deserves a spot on your bookshelf.