6 Pitfalls to Avoid When Cultivating Mental Toughness



Entrepreneurship is hard. But with dedication and mental toughness, anyone can succeed at building a business.

Successful entrepreneurs possess key characteristics — one of them is mental strength. Mental mastery takes time and commitment; it’s more than reciting affirmations and wishing that one day you’ll have what it takes.

Mental toughness offers key benefits to those who obtain it. It will help you stay relaxed under pressure, focus on what’s important, rebound from setbacks, conquer self-doubt, avoid mental traps and fuel the self-confidence you need to succeed. Best of all, you can actively decide to nurture the type of thinking that gets results, face challenges directly and be effective in solving them.

Mentally strong entrepreneurs make a decision to avoid pitfalls that can keep them from reaching their full entrepreneurial potential. The following is a list of six things mentally strong entrepreneurs definitely don’t do.

1. Waste time feeling sorry for themselves.

Okay. So, you failed. Now what? Feeling sorry for yourself shouldn’t be on your priority list. The hard truth is this: entrepreneurs fail, more so than non-entrepreneurs. This is par for the course because they realize failure is an event and not a person. They are willing to take more risks and reap uncommon rewards. As the late Zig Ziglar – an author and motivational speaker – once said, “Expect the best. Plan for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.”

2. Blame others for their own mistakes.

A refusal to take personal responsibility for one’s actions is a sign of someone with highly underdeveloped mental capacity. When we make mistakes we must own them — and capitalize on them. Remember the words of Stephen McCrani: “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” And entrepreneurship requires mastery.

3. Fear and avoid change.

Entrepreneurs pivot here and course correct there. The entrepreneurial journey is full of twists and turns, reworking and iteration. Mentally strong entrepreneurs learn to embrace change, realizing that it is a friend and not a foe. Change is essential. Without it you lose your competitive edge and will find it hard to remain relevant.

4. Focus on things they can’t control.

There are many things we cannot control in business, but we can control how we respond to them. Many entrepreneurs like to be in control, but mentally strong entrepreneurs know when and where to wield this power. When faced with the uncontrollable, we can adapt, influence or choose. This is true power.

5. Try to please everyone.

You can’t be all things to all people. In fact, stop trying. You can, however, be many things to the right people — and this is what we aim for. People-pleasing and people-chasing is co-dependent behavior that can steer you away from your vision, core values and competencies. Mentally strong entrepreneurs aim to please themselves (i.e., be proud of the work they do) and those they serve.

6. Resent and envy the success of others.

Mentally strong entrepreneurs realize that everyone has unique gifts and talents. But this doesn’t eclipse their ability to recognize their own. They choose to empower instead of compete on trivial factors that don’t impact key business metrics. They hustle harder than they hate.


The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs.  In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

Image credit: CC by irene nobrega

About the author: Erica Nicole

Erica Nicole is the founder and CEO of YFS Magazine, the definitive digital magazine for startup, small business news and entrepreneurial culture. As an entrepreneurial change-agent, Erica has been featured in national media outlets including Forbes.com, Upstart Business Journal, Fox Business, MSN Business on Main, The Huffington Post, Black Enterprise and more.

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