After a truly terrible day at the office, in a quiet moment of reflection, you might marvel at the fact you had the fortitude to get through the whole experience without screaming (or quitting). You think, “How did I do it?” A likely factor: You are a mentally strong person.
Mental strength can be a road map for personal success in all areas of your life — especially your career. But to use your mental strength to its full advantage, you need to focus on developing it just as you would any other high-value skill. Honing your sense of purpose and cultivating your ability to make good things happen are part of that process.
More than mind over matter
There are also things you shouldn’t do if you want to build mental strength.
Licensed psychotherapist Amy Morin published an article about the healthy habits of mentally strong people that went viral. She focused on the things mentally strong people don’t do, and how that helps them to be more successful in business.
According to Morin, wasting energy on what you cannot control, giving up after failure, and resenting other people’s success are among the behaviors that mentally strong people avoid.
Character traits to emulate
Mentally strong people also have many distinguishable character traits. Below are 30 examples, collected from or inspired by various articles we found on this topic, from sources like Scientific American, Success Magazine and The Huffington Post:
When faced with a problem, you won’t give up until you find the answer.
Your boss taps you to give the presentation to the firm’s biggest client. Your response: “No sweat!”
You’re in line for a promotion, but you’re not the only candidate under consideration. You’re not worried, though — you believe the odds are in your favor.
A coworker’s behavior frustrates you. You don’t snap at her. Instead, you think of a measured way to express your annoyance and hopefully, motivate your colleague not to repeat her actions.
You recommend a strategy that is rejected by your project team. You ask your colleagues to help you brainstorm an alternative, and ultimately embrace an idea that hadn’t even occurred to you.
Your firm is implementing a new business system. You commit to learn everything you can, as quickly as you can, about the new technology.
You’re known for helping to defuse conflicts at the office, not for creating them.
Your coworkers know they can count on you. Period.
You always take the time to hear both sides of a story, and gather all the facts, before making a judgment.
Teamwork is great, but you have no trouble flying solo, when needed.
To your colleagues, you’re a known quantity, not a question mark.
12. Hard worker
No one would ever associate the term “slacker” with you.
13. Takes responsibility
When you make a misstep, you own it.
14. Understands that life is not always fair
OK, so you didn’t get the promotion you were so optimistic about. C’est la vie – now, onto preparing for the next opportunity!
15. Welcomes a challenge
A new and potentially difficult assignment? Sign you up.
16. In control of their actions and emotions
You never have, and likely never will, embarrass yourself at the holiday office party or any other company event.
17. Embraces change
Your firm is in transition. Instead of fearing what’s ahead, you make a point to find out as much as you can about the change and offer your support to management.
18. Unafraid to speak up
Your boss asks for your opinion about a proposed process change. You don’t hesitate to provide it — and suggest a different approach.
19. Navigates upsets with grace
That promotion you didn’t get? You sincerely congratulated the person who did.
20. Celebrates others’ success
21. Willing to take calculated risks
Now that you’ve been overlooked for a promotion, it seems like a good time to ask for a raise.
22. Learns from mistakes
Oops, you miscalculated on the raise. Turns out your request was a bit over the top. You’ll be sure to do your research next time.
23. Enjoys social interaction
When coworkers want to go out for coffee, or play softball after work, or celebrate a colleague’s birthday in the breakroom, you’re more than glad to join in the fun.
24. Values solitude
Sometimes, you prefer to eat lunch alone under a tree.
25. Quick to share credit for good work
Sure, you spearheaded that project. But without the support of your team, you never would have made it to the finish line on time.
26. Committed to long-term goals
When you make a plan, you stick to it.
27. Able to see the “big picture”
You can visualize how your contributions on the job help the business to achieve its broader objectives.
28. Ready for the unexpected
Surprise! The firm just landed three new accounts and your boss wants you to manage them all. You ask, “When can I get started?”
29. Manages stress effectively
30. Prioritizes health and well-being
You understand there is a connection between your mental strength and your overall wellness. That’s why you never let your health and well-being take a backseat to your job.
How many of these character traits do you have? Many are the types of attributes that are the mark of a good leader, and examples of the nontechnical skills that many employers look for in today’s accounting and finance professionals. So they’re worth developing not only as part of your quest to build your mental strength, but also to help advance your career.
See these additional resources
How to Describe Your Work Ethic on Your Consulting Resume: Motivated? Driven? Strategic? Responsible? Even if these adjectives describe you as a professional, you should avoid using them when describing your work ethic on your resume for consulting jobs. Find out why in this post.
Salary Center: Visit our Salary Center to download a free copy of our latest Salary Guide for the accounting and finance industry, and learn what other skills are in high demand by today’s employers.
This post was originally published in January 2014 and has been updated to reflect more current information.