With his trademark cardigans and gentle demeanor, does Mr. Rogers make you think of mental toughness?
Surprisingly – he should!
I have been working developing a program to help athletes use the characteristics of mental toughness to transform their relationship and get the love they want. I cite the 5 key characteristics of mental toughness in an article to help couples turn their relationship around. I mention that because I will use some of the key concepts from there to make case that Mr. Rogers is a great example of the positive outcomes which result from harnessing the power of mental toughness.
Since the term Mental Toughness (MT) has been gaining so much popularity as a means to make improvements for driven individuals, I wanted to know if it only applies to those looking to callus their minds and conquer ultra-competitions. After extensive research, I don’t think it does! In fact, I believe it can apply to situations in our everyday lives – including our relationships.
Mental toughness is generally understood as the psychological edge that enables individuals to cope better, be more consistent than their opponents. It is the ability to remain determined, focused, confident, and in control under pressure.
You can use MT to improve any part of your life. I have been looking for an example of mental toughness that no one would think of, looking for someone who embodies MT and wondering how men and women might use it to succeed.
Mr. Rogers definitely embodies the characteristics of the mentally tough, but he is not a man looking to stay hard. Maybe you thinking I am going to be talking about the rumors that Fred Rogers was a military sniper or a Navy Seal and that he had tattoo sleeves and that’s why he wore cardigans. No, that’s not where I am going.
Mr. Rogers was a driven man who a vision – to see the good in people and encourage them to be their best selves.
So, how did Mr. Rogers display MT?
One attribute of MT is the ability to push past the mental resistance which yells in someone’s head and tells them to quit.
David Googins, a retired Navy Seal and ultra-runner, shared his method of pushing past that “wall” or moment when the brain says to quit – when the struggle begins, he thinks of previous triumphs to push himself. He calls this his “cookie jar.” Goggins’ method is to think of the bad things that one has experienced and use them as motivation. He uses his hardships and beat downs to propel him. He reaches in and grabs motivation when he needs it.
Mr. Rogers has quite a different cookie jar. Rogers is known for his love of children. He seemed to have an unending cookie jar of positive appreciations to give. The driven individual has to find ways to push through to achieve their goal. Mr. Rogers was pushing past all the negativity which came his way. His work’s mission statement states that the goal is to help children grow up confident and caring. He wanted each one to have a human connection and nourish children with positive interactions. Think of an athlete wanting to hit every goal. Mr. Rogers wanted to make sure every kid received connection.
A second attribute of mental toughness is humility.
For an athlete or person to be successful, they have to be open to learn, to look for a way to make things happen. Sure, the mentally tough are strong, but brute force isn’t always the way. A competitive athlete needs to look for the opportunities that are available and learn to trust those that have gone before. Athletes get trainers and learn how to perfect their event. Mr. Rogers was a very humble man. He was always trying to learn and grow. You could watch any episode of his show and observe him carefully studying whoever he was with. Mr. Rogers was full of ideas and instinctively used this love of learning to develop his program on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
Fred Rogers was a pioneer in children’s media. Part of what made him so mentally tough was the care and effort he put into his work. Care and Effort are key components of the mentally tough. A successfully driven individual cares about their goal. There is hardly another example of a man so dedicated to what they care about.
Rogers used all his interests and aptitudes into his desire to create content for children. He wanted to create programing that was grounded in the best practices and highest standards. He studied children development and consulted with other professionals, including Erik Erikson the psychologist responsible for theory of development. He was very dedicated and put in as many metaphoric miles as any athlete.
The last trait to mention is courage.
Those who are mentally tough have to overcome fear. All is on the line and an athlete can’t let fear crowd his mind. He has to push past this and summon confidence.
Fred Rogers certainly had to overcome fear and embrace his talent. Rogers had a difficult childhood. He was overweight, shy, and introverted. He would use his experience of loneliness and self-doubt to later help millions of children. Fred Rogers overcame his self-doubt and his popularity grew in high school. Additionally, Rogers had the courage to join a fledgling television effort rather than take on a big-city career. Fred seemed to know where he was called and followed that instinct. The program that was supposed to be an introduction to a daily film for children soared with the help of Fred Rogers’s creative touch. Rogers fought to produce programing that he believed in. He fought to produce programing that was not damaging or degrading for television. He testified before the Congress and moved people with his pleas for better television for children.
Yes, Fred Rogers was driven for sure! He was consistent thought out his life. He led as an example and his legacy is a testament to mental toughness. Fred Rogers would probably not be offended by this. I can imagine that he would be curious of the term mental toughness. He would probably let me show him my research and he would encourage me to teach others.
Fred Rogers would be especially happy that I am working to help couples create 5-star relationships using mental toughness. He was all about cultivating team work and learning to transform lives.
Mental toughness is sticking with something when it’s hard.
If you are able to apply high levels of mental toughness to get through your physical challenges, then a relationship boot camp may be exactly what you need to learn how to get through communication obstacles and forge a path towards a better relationship.
Boot camps are individualized for couples to progress through a training plan that transforms their relationship. Couples can get coached privately from home or travel to Pennsylvania to work with me. I know how to help couples transform broken and out-of -shape relationships into one that friends and family are jealous of. It’s true – ask my friends and clients!