Are You Tolerating Too Much?

Wait, Renita, what are you talking about? Don’t you always say we have to get comfortable being uncomfortable? Well, let’s make a distinction between two kinds of uncomfortable: there’s the discomfort of going into the unknown, the unfamiliar, taking action when we don’t know how it’ll play out. And then there’s the discomfort where we put up with some very familiar aspect of our lives that serves no greater purpose — a lack of challenge at work, an unethical boss, […]

9 Ways You’re Already Mentally Tough

As you know, I think a lot about “mental toughness” and how we can train ourselves to have more of it. But I also think we can get so caught up noticing the times we aren’t mentally tough that we overlook or discount the instances when we are.  Mental toughness doesn’t have to be reserved for some high-stakes situation where we grit our teeth, put our head down and forge on. In my playbook, at least, it can simply be a moment where we overcome a part of […]

How I’m Breaking My Emotional Addiction

Standing at the crowded coffee bar, I waited patiently to catch the attention of the server frantically busy filling orders. A tall German woman strode up next to me and, with no hesitation, called out her order for two cappuccinos. I looked at her, incredulous, feeling the urge to slap her arm and say: “Are you serious?! Do you not see the rest of us waiting here?” The thing is, I wasn’t in New York, where a moment of indignant […]

Want to Bounce Back From Disappointment Quicker?

Do you know the story of the Chinese farmer? When his horse ran away, the neighbors came around to commiserate, “So sorry to hear your horse  ran away.” And the farmer said, “Maybe, too soon to tell.” The next day the horse came back, bringing seven wild horses with it, and the neighbors came around to say, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events.” And the farmer said, “Maybe, too soon to tell.” The next day, his son was riding one […]

The Curse of Finishing Second (and Five Habits of Happy High-Achievers)

After finishing third in the men’s 100 meter race at the Rio Olympics this week, bronze medalist Andre de Grasse excitedly embraced Usain Bolt, who had taken the gold. While Andre and Usain were hugging it up, silver medalist Justin Gatlin looked less than thrilled, lost, no doubt, in counterfactual thought about “what might have been.” As Seinfeld points out, “If you win the gold, you feel good. If you win the bronze, you think, well, at least I got something. But if […]

The Time I Got Busted Not Paying Attention

On Saturday afternoons, I take one of my favorite class workouts, Forza, based on samurai sword fighting, with martial arts fitness instructor Ilaria Montagnani. After the warm-up and technical exercises, we learn two combinations, each a series of 16 moves – half cuts, diagonals, horizontals, for example – combined with squats and specific footwork moving backward, forward, sideways and diagonally. Once we’ve learned the combination, we repeat it, without stopping, for five to six minutes. For years now, we’ve done […]

What A Flight Attendant Can Teach Us About Creating Certainty in An Uncertain World

Recently, on a cross-country flight from New York to California, the flight attendant announced: “We’re heading into a thunderstorm so the seatbelt sign will be on for the next 45 minutes. Feel free to get up and use the bathroom if necessary but keep in mind that we will remind you to return to your seats as quickly as possible.” As a student of neuroscience, I was impressed by the attendant’s understanding of the fight-or-flight threat response. Because typically, what […]

Are You Leveraging the Power of Curiosity?

My dad likes to tell this story from my childhood: I was three years old, we were eating dinner and my mom chastised me for chewing with my mouth open, saying “That’s how pigs eat.” My immediate response: “Do cows do it too?” Apparently, I’ve always been curious about behavior, bovine and otherwise.  Over the years, living in Japan and Europe and working in diverse company cultures, I’ve developed an endless fascination with understanding why humans behave the way they do […]

How To Stop Being A People-Pleaser (and Take Back Your Power)

“This feels too nice and polite to come from a ‘mental toughness coach,’” was my coach’s feedback when I asked him to review an email I had sent introducing myself to a high-profile entrepreneur.   “Well, yes,” I thought. “I am asking for his time and attention, I want to be respectful.” In fact, I was reaching out with an offer to be of service. In the process, I was tripped up by what Jean Tang describes in “Sorry, Not Sorry,” as women’s […]

How Much of Your Life Do You Want To Spend In Survival Mode?

In The Art of Possibility, Ben Zander tells this story: Inscribed on five of the six pillars in the Holocaust Memorial at Quincy Market in Boston are stories that speak of the cruelty and suffering in the camps. The sixth pillar presents a tale of a different sort, about a little girl named Ilse, a childhood friend of Guerda Weissman Kline, in Auschwitz. Guerda remembers that Ilse, who was about six years old at the time, found one morning a […]