Mental Toughness

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In the game of life, being mentally tough helps you overcome obstacles. The same goes for sports, where being part of a team can promote mental fortitude and teach you how to succeed while working with others. In the United States Army, the stronger you are as an individual, the stronger you'll be in a group. The Army is a team that never quits, never fears an opponent and expects to achieve success at every opportunity.

First Lieutenant Jason Norwood of the U.S. Army Combatives Program credits the Army for teaching him about life's hardships and making him a better person. He says, "Before I joined the Army, I was mentally tough and physically tough, but not to the extent that I am now. The difference now is that I did not have the test that I had with Army training. Before, I had a will to survive; now I have the will to survive with the knowledge that I know that I can."

Norwood joined the Army for many of the same reasons athletes have for wanting to join an elite team. "What motivated me," he says, "is that I thought the army would be a group of people that are similar to myself—people that don't accept defeat, people that want to win, people that are physically tough—and to a certain extent, that's what I found."

Never accepting defeat is a characteristic that defines Indianapolis Colts QB, Peyton Manning, as well. The NFL stud says his father helped strengthen him as an athlete and as a person. "[He] always told me, 'If you want to accomplish anything in this lifetime, you've got to have a strong work ethic and never lose sight of your goal," Manning says. Taking these words to heart, Manning led his team to the '06 Super Bowl title and brought home the game's MVP trophy.

Rising star Chris Paul, point guard for the New Orleans Hornets, has always been a natural leader. "I am all about accountability," he says, "so for me to be the point guard and leader of this team, I need to make sure [the team] sees me working hard and doing the right things. It's all about me being accountable and setting that example."

Having the tools to achieve victory when life throws challenges at you is what sets leaders apart from followers. For 1st Lt. Norwood, Manning and Paul, rising to the top required the physical strength to succeed and the mental toughness to persevere.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock