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Superheroes and mindful muscle

You can defeat self-doubt without letting it define you

As you drive out bad intellectual habits that may be restraining progress, continue to exert and extend your affirming mental routines to build cerebral muscle. Bring on confidence and grow your marine business by pulling in the positive, pushing out the negative and pulsing continual gratitude.  

Bring out the light sabers, cosmic costumes and magical makeup. The Comic Con superhero conference was on. 

Who’s your favorite superhero? Comic Con visited the city where I live during the summer, and they were all there. Superman, Batman, Luke Skywalker, Wonder Woman, and let’s not forget Aquaman (this is the marine industry, after all). 

Each of them is endowed with fantastic prowess of some sort. But here’s the thing that constantly blows me away. Despite their incredible feats, all of them periodically manifest one trait — self-doubt. Yeah, the phenomenal ease of slipping into anxiety and lacking confidence faces everyone at times, superhuman and regular human. No matter how gifted, insecurity and mental weakness can creep in — a flash, a passing glimmer. In the end our heroes rally and realize triumph. 

What about you? Do you ever have a thrilling superhuman moment? Not often? How about ever deal with self-doubt demons when managing your team or your individual achievements in the water recreation environment? It’s OK to say “yes” to this question because most celebrities, leaders and other high achievers have admitted to uncertainty. 

Here’s the trick to dealing with intellectual drawbacks — don’t let them define you, distract you or hinder your making headway! Keep going! But how, you may ask? I’m so glad you did because, according to Amy Morin of Inc. magazine (Mental Muscle, The Denver Post, April 23, 2017), there is a way to keep misgivings at bay and your mental mastery moving forward. 

Morin tells us that as both an author and psychotherapist she has seen numerous people beat the odds. They encountered massive challenges and tragedies, but persevered their way to victory. She found it was important to focus on building good mental habits as well as vital to give up bad ones. 

It’s like saying “yes” to healthy exercise while saying “no” to being a perpetual couch potato. Your level of attainment will accelerate when you do things that promote accomplishment in addition to eliminating behavior that holds you back. Morin said we unwittingly engage in practices that drain our mental strength and that being aware of these habits is the first step to getting rid of them. 

With that in mind and including my added sound bites, here are Morin’s 13 things mentally strong people don’t do:

  •  They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves. Although feeling sad or grieving is essential to healing, self-pity is not because it keeps you trapped in distress. Dump self-pity.
  • They don’t give away their power. Letting others make you feel bad or obliged to do things gives them power over your emotions and behavior. Retain your power by perpetually managing how you think, feel and behave. Power past the power poachers.
  • They don’t avoid change. Change intimidates because it has no guarantees, but it’s crucial for becoming stronger and better. Likewise, success requires changing, adapting. Lay claim to change.
  • They don’t focus on things they can’t control. Since you have a limited amount of time and energy, it’s critical to devote resources to things you can control. You cannot control a natural disaster, but you can make yourself ready for one. Take command of what you control.
  • They don’t worry about pleasing everyone. You cannot regulate others’ emotions and it’s not your duty to make people happy. Those who pressure themselves into being people pleasers end up squandering their own values and being dependent on others’ opinions. Deny any desire to please all.
  • They don’t fear taking calculated risks. Scary doesn’t always mean risky; it can merely be the unknown. Mix logic into your calculation in order to challenge and stretch yourself to your utmost potential. Per Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do something at least once a day that scares you.”
  •  They don’t dwell on the past. Learn by reflecting on the past, but don’t get stuck there. Behavior changes and progressive actions must take place today. Persist in the present.
  • They don’t make the same mistakes over and over. Gain lessons from mistakes; don’t cover them up — acknowledge them, make a point to do better next time. Mess up, learn more, move on.
  • They don’t resent others’ success. It’s natural to compare ourselves to others —  but don’t. Resentment and bitterness eventually sneak in. Compare yourself only to who you were yesterday, working toward the smarter and more victorious you for tomorrow. Reject resentment.
  • They don’t give up after the first failure. People who fail aren’t failures; they are pushing their limits to get to the next level. Think of failure as an opening for a more knowledgeable you to try again. Falling is your cue to get up.
  • They don’t fear alone time. Taking time to be alone lets you review your progress and plan how you’ll produce the life you want. Like recalibrating your cerebral compass, go the distance by plotting your path.
  • They don’t feel the world owes them anything. An attitude of entitlement is easy to spot and hard to stomach. Drive your life by working on what you’ll be able to give instead of being a passenger tallying how much you should receive. Drive, don’t ride.
  • They don’t expect immediate results. Change takes time, which means you must look at goals as a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t expect overnight outcomes and don’t give up too soon. Keep working; keep going. 

With determination, you can discard the don’ts you may be doing. Want help? In the spirit of comic book fun I created a rhyming summary to flex your memory muscle and assist your recall of the 13 don’ts: 

Push out pity, preserve your power, face change, do not cower. Control what you can, don’t plan to please all, take reasonable risks, get up when you fall. Pursue the present, reflect on the past, learn from mistakes, gain lessons that last. 

Don’t resent others’ success, let failure help you grow, expand your personal best, broaden what you know. Resist a sense of entitlement, be alone to plan and review, plotting a path is effort well spent, it’s entirely up to you. 

Great things take time, goals are a marathon, not a sprint, don’t be discouraged, keep pushing toward achievement. Above all be determined, overcome your fear, apply courage and mental muscle, take charge and always persevere. 

As you drive out bad intellectual habits that may be restraining progress, continue to exert and extend your affirming mental routines to build cerebral muscle. Bring on confidence and grow your marine business by pulling in the positive, pushing out the negative and pulsing continual gratitude. Don’t be discouraged when hesitation inches in — you’re learning, growing each time you muscle it out. 

I like what Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren said: “It would be wrong to think that you’re always right and correct and perfect and brilliant. Self doubt is the thing that drives you to try to improve yourself.” (Esquire, August 2011). 

As an amazing artist, Mirren’s mental muscle was surely talking, as will undoubtedly be the case when you or your favorite superhero next faces uncertainty. Persist and proceed to become the ever resilient, shining and successful you.

About the Author: Mary Elston has spent more than 20 years in management in the transportation, consulting and technology industries. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and author of the book, “Master Your Middle Management Universe, How to Succeed with Moga Moga Management Using 3 Easy Steps.” Contact her at  

This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue.



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