Embrace the struggle

Struggling is no longer accepted. I also see a lot of learned helplessness lately. I think self-reliance and resilience are becoming a bit of a lost art. Everyone could use some stoicism. I am a fan of the stoics, ever since Barre Fitzpatrick introduced me to Marcus Aurelius. 

The Little Book of Mental Toughness

Through LinkedIn, I came across “The Little Book of Mental Toughness: Endure What You Must, Accomplish What You Can, and Embrace the Struggle”. A lovely small book with some pertinent question and some pertinent life lessons.

The questions

  • How many times have you spoken without thinking, and how many times have you acted without considering the probable consequences of your actions? 
  • Why should you be frustrated about what other people do or do not understand? 
  • Can you think of anything that is more important to you than becoming a wise and virtuous person? 
  • What is the benefit of living a longer but less noble life? Why would you want a long, drawn-out existence as a miscreant or a mediocrity? 
  • Have you considered the possibility that you talk too much and listen too little? 
  • Have you made adequate preparation for an extended disruption to the general supply chain? Admirable adult competence entails having the foresight and the discipline to secure ample supplies of food, potable water, and other necessities to meet the needs of those who depend upon you.
  • What is the alleged justification for saying something that you know or believe to be untrue? 
  • Can you identify values and beliefs that have been tried time and time again over the millennia and behaviours that seem, in most cases, to lead to health, satisfaction, and impressively accomplished lives? If you cannot do so, then you should consider the possibility that you have either looked in the wrong places, looked no place at all, or that you have managed to misunderstand the evidence.
  • Are your daily efforts to improve your character and your behaviour a matter of devotion, or are they merely a matter of dabbling and passing time? 
  • Do you perceive the culture by which you are surrounded as morally defensible for the most part, or do you take it to be mostly reprehensible? If the former, then you have a good reason, indeed you have a compelling reason, to remain “out of step” with the culture surrounding you, and to do your best to stay on “the wrong side of history.” 
  • Can you eat unseasoned food without complaining and without grousing even within the confines of your own consciousness? If you think you might struggle with this, then imagine going without any food at all for an entire week. 
  • Consider the historical figures whom you have identified as heroes or moral exemplars. Do you admire them because of their wealth, power, or fame? 
  • Are you more concerned about advancement in your career than you are about your moral improvement? 
  • When your trainer yells at you to take another lap, or when your boss demands more work completed by an earlier deadline, do you become angry and frustrated, or do you feel gratitude for an opportunity to rise to the occasion? 
  • How much damage can you sustain, how much pain can you absorb, and how much failure can you endure while still putting one foot in front of the other and daring the world to hit you with whatever it can? 

The lessons

  1. Nothing is quite what it used to be. That includes you. 
  2. You waste an awful lot of time worrying. 
  3. Mind your own business and move forward. 
  4. Stop upsetting yourself so much about all of the terrible things that could befall your loved ones. 
  5. Learn to observe the world around you with ruthless indifference. 
  6. Identify the one habit that you would most like to break. There are, almost certainly, many habits you would like to break, but find the one that is most troubling to you. 
  7. Allowing other people to determine your values and beliefs, or your frame of mind, is not so very different from allowing them to tell you where you may live, when you must work, and how you are permitted to behave. 
  8. Do not be the kind of person who gripes and whines about having to enact the responsibilities that are associated with a facet of your life that is voluntary. You chose this. 
  9. You must be prepared to endure pain, discomfort, sleeplessness, and any other challenges that stand between you and the discharge of your obligations. 
  10. You should be able to state your fundamental values and goals in no more than a few sentences. 
  11. Imagine an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God watching you and judging you at all times. 
  12. Hold yourself to a high standard.
  13. Let reason guide you. 
  14. When you observe animals that are not domesticated, you will notice, if you are attentive, very little by way of behaviour that resembles human despair or surrender. 
  15. Try to maintain the independence of thought while also appreciating the accumulated data and evidence gathered by those who have come before you. Never embrace any worldview merely because it is widespread or because it represents the prevailing orthodoxy of the day. 
  16. You are going to have to prove that you are made of sterner stuff than is the average person, or you are going to have to suffer the consequences of being unable to prove yourself capable of facing genuine adversity. 
  17. Do not allow yourself to get too comfortable. 
  18. Consider the nature of the entertainments by which so much of your time seems to be consumed. 
  19. Identify a few behaviours in which you would never engage under any circumstances, no matter what threat you faced for refusing. 
  20. Consider the conditions that you have had no choice but to endure. A broken bone does not heal faster as you grow more impatient.
  21. You could also embrace a stagnant lifelessness masquerading as a meaningful existence. 
  22. Even the “bad” times are well worth the living. 
  23. Let other people live their lives as they see fit, unless and until they encroach upon your rights or liberties, or until they attack those who cannot defend themselves.
  24. Smugness is an expression of weakness. 
  25. Making excuses is for liars and weaklings. 
  26. No one knows everything. 
  27. Think of the person whom you have most recently wronged. 
  28. Any facet of yourself that you cannot expunge constitutes something like a puzzle to be solved (if possible). 
  29. The next time you experience a moment of anxiety, dread, or intense worry, take a moment to consider the “worst-case scenario” and recognize that you will either survive its occurrence or you will not. 
  30. Accept no vulgar utilitarian calculus when it comes to deciding what is morally good and what is evil. 
  31. You will be tested time and time again, and it is incumbent upon you to maximize the benefits that you can derive from these times of significant challenge. 
  32. Assigning blame is usually useless, and it tends to lay the groundwork for future conflict that could be otherwise helpfully avoided. 
  33. Accomplish what you can with the abilities you have been granted, and do not fret about the capacities that seem to elude you. 
  34. If people who know you well do not trust you implicitly with the things that are most important to them, then either the people who know you well are not particularly perceptive, or you are not the type of person who ought to be trusted with the important things. 
  35. The value and virtue of simplicity are not to be underestimated. 
  36. Remember that any time you are insulted or affronted, you are always complicit in your own aggravation. 
  37. Self-discipline is better than freedom. Freedom is (perhaps) the ability to do as you please. Discipline is the ability to do as you should. 
  38. You either make progress, you fall into regress, or you stagnate. 
  39. Losing your temper is a manifestation of psychological and emotional weakness. 
  40. Consider, as a measure of real wealth, all of those things that you do not need and do not want. 
  41. Learn to delay gratification. Buy your favourite treat, whatever it may be, take it home, leave it in a place where you will see it every day, and refrain from eating it for one month. 
  42. Throughout the written histories, you can find many stories of people who were willing to die for their beliefs and principles. 
  43. There is never anything wrong with demanding evidence from the “objective” media, who, after all, claim to report the truth and purport to be interested in facts and evidence. The relevant sources and outlets have been proven, fairly conclusively, to have altered evidence, excluded crucial information, and to have simply fabricated stories with little or no resemblance to reality time and time again. 
  44. Irrationality lies at the root of all disappointment. 
  45. Consistency is one of the great challenges in the pursuit of mental toughness, 
  46. When you speak ill of others, you betray at least a bit of insecurity on your own part.
  47. If you are not willing to put yourself to the test, then you cannot claim (with a straight face) to be mentally resilient. 
  48. Identify something for which you are certain that you would be willing to sacrifice your life if need be. 
  49. Imagine living out the rest of your days in complete isolation. 
  50. If modernity demands that you behave in some fashion that you regard as contemptible, dishonourable, or just plain dishonest, then so much the worse for modernity and the culture by which you find yourself surrounded. 
  51. Moral facts are either universal and timeless, or they are not moral facts at all, but mere conventions of a particular time and place. 
  52. If you find that you must endure some unpleasant circumstance, then do everything in your power to undergo the experience with good humour and without complaint. 
  53. The people who pursue wisdom and virtue will always be in the minority in any society. 
  54. If you expect anything in return for your generosity, then you are simply engaged in some form of commerce, and you should not regard yourself as sincerely beneficent at 
  55. Envy is weakness. 
  56. Humility is strength. 
  57. The desire to control other people is an indication that you have yet to gain real command of yourself. 
  58. When you pass through a crowd unnoticed, make an effort to pay attention to what other people are saying and doing. 
  59. Victory is not always a blessing. 
  60. The end is inevitable.


Ultimately it is about extreme ownership and respect. Starting with self-respect. A long time I saw Gerry Duffy speak. Look him up. The guy who ran 32 marathons in 32 days and completed a DECA Iron-Distance Triathlon consisted of swimming 24 miles, cycling, 1,160 miles and running 262 miles. He asked the question, why be mediocre? I never forgot that. The choice is yours.


I wrote a book about books about Resilience

sensemaking cover


Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
× How can I help you?