What Is Mental Fitness?
A primary indicator of physical fitness is recovery time. If you are doing all-out sprint intervals, for instance—the more physically fit you are, the quicker you can recover from one interval to the next. “So then what is mental fitness?” the mental performance coach Greg Harden says. “Mental fitness is about recovery time: People who are mentally fit recover faster than the average person.” Mental fitness, recovery time—that’s the theme of this SIX at 6.
What Makes A Great Writer
John Mayer’s definition of a great writer is rooted in recovery time. “You’re a great writer, in my book,” Mayer says, “if, after a bad day—a day where you just didn’t have it, you just didn’t get it—you can drive home with the radio off, knowing you didn’t get it today, shower it off, and wake up the next day, and go, ‘Let’s hit it. Let’s go again.’” I’ve written before about something Robert Greene once told me: mastery requires a lot of boredom, tedium, and frustration. It requires sitting with the frustration of putting in work that doesn’t immediately pay off. It requires sitting with the uncertainty of, am I going to spend sixteen hours reading this biography only to discover there’s nothing in it I can use? It requires a lot of bad days, a lot of days where you just don’t have it. So then it requires the ability to shower off a bad day and wake up the next day, ready to try again. “And I’m pretty good at that,” Mayer continues. “I can live between the kills pretty well.”
People Who Get The Most Out of Their Talent
Phil Mickelson has played golf and spent time with a long list of people who are considered among the best at what they do—Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, and Steph Curry, to name a few. He was asked if there’s one intangible elite performers have in common. “The biggest difference,” he said, “between people who get the most out of their talent and those who don’t is the ability to retake control of your thoughts, to quickly turn it around when things start going bad.” You can tell who does and who doesn’t have this ability when things start going bad, he said. When a golfer hits a few errant shots in a row. When a 3-point shooter misses half a dozen shots in a row. When a quarterback throws interceptions on back-to-back possessions. When a salesperson gets rejection after rejection after rejection. When a songwriter has a bad day in the studio. “When things start going bad in a round of golf,” for instance, Phil continues, “the great players have the ability to retake control of their thoughts, to refocus on what they want to have happen, on where they want the ball to go. When things start going bad, they have the ability to quickly turn it around.” The greats, in other words, are mentally fit. They recover faster than those who don’t get the most out of their talent.
You Can’t Change What Happened. You Can Change What Happens From Here.
In March 2020, Brent Underwood packed up his apartment in Austin, Texas, loaded up his truck, and drove twenty-three hours to an abandoned mining turned ghost-town named Cerro Gordo. With a business partner, some investors, and his life savings, Brent bought the town in 2018. The plan was to bring the town back to life, to turn the 336 acres and 22 buildings into a historical destination. That plan largely revolved around the American Hotel, the literal and metaphorical center of town. But then on June 15, 2020, 149 years to the day it opened, the American Hotel caught fire and burned to the ground. “It was probably the most devastating day of my life,” Brent would recall. “You are literally watching your life savings and hopes and dreams burn in front of you.” As he stood atop the ashes, the town’s previous owner put his hand on Brent’s shoulder. “You can’t change what happened,” he told Brent, “but what happens from here is up to you.” More than just providing comfort, Brent wrote, those words were “a call to action. To responsibility.” And so the plan was modified—rather than revitalize the American Hotel, Brent rebuilt it, right where it once stood.
Move The Furniture
When Michael Lewis graduated from college, Lewis applied for a job to tour groups across Europe. He got an interview and when he showed up, the hiring manager said he didn’t have time to do the interview because he was tasked with rearranging the office furniture. He asked if Lewis would help him and for the next hour, Lewis helped move furniture around and then went home. Lewis got a call the next day—he got the job. “It turned out he did this with everybody,” Lewis said. “So the next guy or girl who went in for an interview, they moved the furniture back. Because he wanted to see how you’d respond—how you deal with problems, how you collaborate and cooperate with others.” He wanted to see if the interviewees were mentally fit. Because a person getting frustrated when asked to move some furniture gives you a pretty good sense of how they’ll respond when things go awry on a tour across Europe.
What Are You Shaking Your Head For?
After missing a shot, Kevin Durant walked off the court shaking his head. His Coach, Monty Williams, said, “What are you shaking your head for? It’s part of it. Greatness don’t shake his head. You feel me?” Bad days, bad shots, bad news, things not going as planned—it’s part of it. The mentally fit knows that, so the mentally fit don’t shake his or her head.