For Mental Toughness, Follow the Four C’s
Vet med is not always about fun and puppies. Angry clients, tear-inducing euthanasias and keyboard warriors can profoundly affect us.
Over time, if you survive burnout, compassion fatigue and depression, these situations can erode your self-confidence and your self-worth.
Worse: it can erode your passion for the profession.
We therefore need to become mentally tough in order to fight back. What is mental toughness?
- It is the resilience to recover from adversity or setbacks.
- It is what drives you to stick to your long-term goals.
- It is the ability to work through self-doubt to stay on track.
This applies at every step of the way: through tech or vet school, through stressful situations, when your reputation is questioned, when you lose a patient, and when a client calls you names – online or in person.
In his book “Developing Mental Training,” psychologist Peter Clough, describes the 4 traits of mental toughness. He calls them the four C’s: Confidence, Challenge, Control and Commitment. Those 4 qualities, combined, are the key to success.
Which ones do you already possess?
“Confidence comes from discipline and training,” says financial guru Robert Kiyosaki. Being confident means believing in yourself. It’s knowing that for sure, you will reach your goals.
Being confident means not giving up when things become tough or don’t go as planned. It means having solid social skills. It means communicating well with clients and teammates.
Challenge is not something to shy away from. As the saying goes, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
On the other side of a challenge, there is a lesson to learn or a success to celebrate.
Mentally tough people thrive on challenges and see them as an opportunity to grow.
Have you heard about the circle of influence, as explained by Stephen Covey in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”?
You can’t control the weather. You can’t control others. You can’t control traffic.
You can only control what is inside your circle of influence.
Mentally tough people know they only have control over their life, their attitude and their life’s outcomes. Despite setbacks, they persevere until they succeed.
Tough people are committed to achieving their goals. Commitment means setting up specific goals and doing whatever it takes to achieve them, despite roadblocks, critics and failures.
Failure doesn’t define who you are. Failing only means that you need to improve certain skills. If you are committed to overcoming this temporary situation, success is within your reach.
Peter Clough’s work shows that mental toughness helps to buffer stress, which is so common in our field. Mental toughness is an important leadership quality. However, leaders are not born with this trait. It’s a characteristic developed over time.
If you work on improving each of the four C’s in your life, one at a time, you will progressively become tougher, while remaining compassionate and caring.
Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS
Meredith Jones, DVM
Co-Founders of Veterinary Financial Summit