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How to develop mental toughness

How to develop mental toughness | Cultural Trendz |

Time after time you see a promising athlete come out of college and go into the pros only to bomb out. He or she had the best athletic ability, yet could not cut it at the professional level. Others might not have great athletic ability, get picked late in the draft and go onto become super stars. Tom Brady comes to mind as someone who wasn’t particularly outstanding in college who has gone on to be a probable first time inductee into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Personally I have seen the same. I spent many years in the US Army Special Forces. We would have tryouts who while in the best physical shape just could not make the grade to be a Green Beret. Others, who would seem to be nondescript, would pass the Special Forces Qualification course with flying colors and go onto to be an outstanding soldier.

You are probably asking yourself by now what is the difference? What do you need to perform at the highest levels, which is even more important than physical ability?

Mental toughness is what separates the superstar from the merely good. It separates the musicians that play small party gigs from the rock stars. Someone without mental toughness can have all the natural talents or ability and not make it as far as someone with mental toughness with average ability.

The key to mental toughness is applying consistently the traits of self motivation, positive attitude, emotional self control, calmness under fire, and being energetic and ready for action. Consistency is important. Through applying these traits day in and day out, you will be able to reach new heights in whatever endeavors you seek whether it be a sport, playing a musical instrument, coding a computer application or writing a novel.

Let’s look at each of the traits of mental toughness:

Self Motivation

While some sports are team sports and other pursuits are done in conjunction with others life is pretty much played alone. Your motivation must come from within. The intensity of your motivation is determined by how badly you want to perform well.

Motivation can be strengthened many ways. Think back to a failure. That feeling can provide the motivation to keep going, keep practicing. A time of victory can also provide the motivation to reclaim that winning feeling. Use time as a motivator. While others relax you can be gaining on them increasing your skills.

Positive, Realistic Attitude

You are not going to be able to do everything. In Special Forces we always looked for what someone was good at and focused on that. By focusing on strengths, you gain confidence and inspiration from them. You can create your own positive attitude. For example, smaller pro basketball players do not try to go head to head with others over seven feet tall, they focus on their speed and ball handling skills. Focus on what your natural strengths are.

Emotional Self Control

People who are not in control of their emotions get upset when the something doesn’t go as expected. They alienate spouses, co-workers, teammates by petty, childish behavior. Mentally tough people have tough skins and don’t let outside circumstances affect them. There will be many times whether in a game or in life that things happen outside your control. A mentally tough person keeps their emotions in check and keeps on with the game plan they had in mind from the beginning.

Calm Under Fire

Anything worth going for is going to be high pressure one time or another. Mentally tough people are at their best under pressure. Calmness under fire isn’t something you just switch on. The key here is to seek out pressure situations working up from low pressure to medium pressure to high pressure situations. Perform in front of larger and larger groups. Seek out better and better opponents, games top participate in. What seemed like high pressure before will become the new normal for you.

Energetic and Ready For Action

Mentally tough people get themselves fire up and ready to go for the battle, performance, game or whatever it may be. It might be the middle of the night, you might have played two other performances the same day or you might be under the weather. The pride you get from doing your best in less than optimal circumstances makes it that much easier to succeed in all circumstances. The third performance of the day might not be your best ever, but it should be the best you can possibly give. The next time when conditions are better you will play better for times you pushed yourself to give it all.


The great thing about mental toughness is that you are not born with it. You don’t have to learn it at a young age. Mental toughness comes simply from the decision to consistently apply the traits I have talked about. You can start today and reach levels of your game, relationships, and success that you never thought possible. Outstanding athletic prowess, superior intellect, musical talent will take someone so far. Without mental toughness they will not reach their full potential.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Practice and develop your toughness.

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Why Banks Are Finally Embracing Cloud Computing

Why Banks Are Finally Embracing Cloud Computing | Cultural Trendz |

Banks are warming to cloud computing after nearly a decade of hesitation about trusting their data to outsiders.

Seventy-one percent of bank executives surveyed in a recently released report say they plan to invest more in cloud computing, nearly four times the figure a year earlier, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. (About half of the 115 large banks surveyed around the world are based in the U.S.) One reason for this shift, according to Julien Courbe, PwC's financial services technology leader, is that vendors of public cloud services have made their offerings to banks more secure and reliable.

"This makes stakeholders more comfortable," Courbe says. "A lot of clients are starting to consider and invest in the offerings of many large technology companies to move apps and data to the public cloud. It's a significant shift. Most investments banks have made to date have been in the private cloud," in which the bank retains a greater degree of control and management. "Now we're seeing banks invest in public cloud solutions."

To improve security, cloud providers are encrypting data in storage as well as in transit. "They've also made significant investments in identity and access management," Courbe says.

In another change, midtier banks are skipping the intermediate step of private cloud implementation and going straight to the public cloud, Courbe says.

This year, Gartner forecast the public cloud services market would grow 18.5% in 2013 to total $131 billion worldwide, up from $111 billion in 2012. Infrastructure-as-a-service, including cloud computing, storage and print services, was the fastest-growing segment of the market, according to the research firm.

The major public cloud providers — Amazon (AMZN), Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT) and Rackspace (RACK) — have reported strong growth in cloud use so far this year.

In April, Amazon announced that more than 2 trillion objects were stored with the Amazon S3 service and that the service was getting more than 1.1 million requests per second.

"It took us six years to grow to one trillion stored objects, and less than a year to double that number," the company said on its blog. In July, the Netherlands' banking regulator approved Amazon Web Services for use by financial organizations. All levels of data storage and management on the AWS cloud, as well as the use of technology provided by third-party vendors that runs on top of AWS, are included in the approval.

Microsoft reported in April that its Windows Azure software and related programs surpassed $1 billion in annual sales for the first time. Google says 5 million businesses use its Google Apps for Business.

"This is a movement that will continue to accelerate," Courbe says. In about 15 years, there will only be about five or six data centers in the world, he predicts.

The first use case for cloud computing in banks is application testing and development. It's a natural fit, since thorough testing of applications requires considerable computing resources but often takes just three to six months — so investing in equipment to test on doesn't make sense.

In the next phase of cloud adoption for banks, they're starting to use human resources, accounting and operations apps in public clouds. In one recent example, Standard Bank in South Africa said it was planning to move human resources applications to the cloud, as a test before putting core banking services there.


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Learning to Learn: fighting cognitive biases

Learning to Learn: fighting cognitive biases | Cultural Trendz |

In a world with more information than ever, figuring out how to use the brain to its fullest potential, as well as filling it with as much knowledge as possible, is the main focus of a vast amount of people in this world.

I’ve made it clear on many occasions that I believe in the importance of being a perpetual learner. One of the key activities associated with learning is exploring and understanding the way the human brain functions, and using the results of this to properly hack the critical thinking process. For example, did you know that something called a cognitive bias exists? This term refers to the tendency to think in certain ways.

Cognitive biases range from the bandwagon effect – when truths are accepted because a large amount of people also accept them – to the confirmation bias – when people believe information that confirms what they think or believe in. According to those who study psychology and behavioral economics, hundreds of cognitive biases exist. It’s necessary to educate ourselves on these biases so that we can overcome them and make sure we’re thinking as clearly and critically as possible when it comes to decision making and information processing.

Critical thinking is an increasingly important skill that has been overlooked by many as information becomes more accessible and superfluous. Today, a critical thinker is able to set him or herself apart by lending his or her brain to the many others who have not yet figured it out. Becoming this “thought leader,” if you will, is beneficial in many ways, including the ability to gain the trust of those with whom you wish to connect as well as the authority in the space in which you have established your expertise.

While it’s not possible to go through a list of each possible cognitive bias with each of life’s decisions, it is possible to take a few actions and train our brains to overcome these phenomena on a more general level. Here’s an investigative list of 5 cognitive biases and suggestions on how to fight them.

The Bias: The Backfire Effect – the rejection of evidence that contradicts your point of view.

The Anti-Bias: Rather than treating your own points of view as fact, view them as hypotheses. Being proven wrong by data is not a bad thing; it just means you learned something new.

The application: Your boss just informed you of an article he read explaining a study in which orange call-to-action buttons garner the most clicks. Your first response is that this can’t be possible, because you hate orange – it’s the ugliest color! You step back, read the aforementioned article, and realize that this information actually does make sense. (You still don’t have to buy any orange clothes, though, don’t worry).

The Bias: The Hard-Easy Bias – the pattern of overconfidence in easy situations and under confidence in difficult situations.

The Anti-Bias: Define and recognize your capabilities. The issue at hand will be solved if you can do it, and you will be able to come up with another solution if you cannot do it on your own. Try to briefly remove yourself from the situation before you begin, and imagine what you would tell a close friend or colleague if they were the one faced with the problem. Then, take your own advice!

The application: Every morning, you arrive at work and look at your to do list. You’ve been skipping over “write Q1 content strategy” all week in favor of “answer e-mails” and “tweet.” While the latter is certainly a more daunting task, you are going to have to do it eventually, and you wouldn’t be tasked with it if you weren’t fully capable of completing it. Remember last time you thought you wouldn’t be able to finish your strategy? You did it then, and you’ll do it again now.

The Bias: Irrational Escalation – compounding a bad investment, because “it’s already bad.”

The Anti-Bias: Bear with me – here comes a metaphor. This reminds me of a health tip I once read: If you have one piece of cake, this doesn’t mean your entire day is ruined. You don’t have to give up and eat the whole thing just because you started. The same goes for investing money in a sinking stock or failing on a part of a project. If one thing turns out badly, the best thing to do is to make the rest of it turn out well.

The application: “I just bought 50 shares of Facebook stock, and it tanked! May as well just buy 500 more, it can’t get any worse!” Slow down there, tiger. Losing $2,500 is certainly not the same as losing $30k. Think about that.

The Bias: The Observer-Expectancy Effect – when expectations influence outcome.

The Anti-Bias: Once again, remove yourself from the situation. When conducting a test or experiment, be open to the (50%) possibility that your hypothesis will be disproven. As previously mentioned, this will only mean that you learned something new. When experimenting or analyzing data, tainting or angling the results to support your hypothesis will only hurt you in the long run.

The application: Your colleague just finished two months’ worth of research trying to figure out what your customers see valuable about your product. Just as he begins presenting, you exclaim, “I knew it! Our value prop is X!” Although the first piece number you saw might have supported this, your colleague actually didn’t get to the second piece, which clearly disproves that. Your mind, however, is already closed. Acknowledge that, get in there, and open it back up. Remember that 50% chance that your hypothesis would be proved wrong? As great of a critical thinker you may be, data is still the smartest thing in the whole world – never forget it.

The Bias: Reactance – the desire to do the opposite of what you’re asked or advised, simply to prove your freedom of choice.

The Anti-Bias: In one of the more difficult bias avoidance situations, this calls for the swallowing of pride and recognition that doing what you’re asked and/or advised is probably in your best interest, and you probably would have been perfectly okay with doing it if someone else didn’t tell you to. Don’t worry, everyone will remain aware of your freedom of choice.

The application: Just as you’re about to start reading that book your friend sent you a few weeks ago, she calls you to bug you about how you haven’t picked it up yet. Even though you were about to, you suddenly feel the need to let her know that you’ll get to it when you can and you’re a very busy person! You know it would make her happy if you just read it, and trust me, she knows you’re an adult with free will. With that in mind, swallow your pride and thank her for reminder, then pour yourself a cup of tea and dig into that (probably amazing) book.

Bonus Bias!

The Bias: Bias Blind Spot – not recognizing the existence of cognitive biases.

The Anti-Bias: Read this post and open your mind!

The application: You just read a great article on cognitive biases and advice on how to overcome them. You want the rest of the world to be able to do this also, so you tweet it!

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

An excellent piece exploring how cognitive bias affects our perception and actions. It includes some some very helpful ways to avoid bias and truly think objectively as a critical thinker. 


If you wish to understand the way the human brain functions., this post provides a good introduction and a list of 5 cognitive biases along with helpful suggestions on how to counteract them. 


Just because you think it, doesn't make it so. ~ V.B.


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Comic Creation ❣

Comic Creation ❣ | Cultural Trendz |
My son and  I. Yes, we're artsy superheroes. (>‿♥) ~ V.B.
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