Hardiness Is The Trait You Will Regret Ignoring

Have you heard of hardiness? It’s not the most talked about word. We hear grit, resilience, authenticity, empathy and others quite often, speaking from experience as The Boost Institute teaches about all of these.

But when it comes to hardiness, now that we measure it, talk about it, and get asked about it more, is something that we clearly see aspects that are missing.

But what is it, how is it different from the other words listed above, and how do we train it?

A PubMed article by Lambert Jr & Lambert identified hardiness the following way:

“Hardiness is defined as a constellation of attitudes, beliefs, and behavioural tendencies that consist of three components: commitment, control, and challenge.”

and Hardiness Institute founder Dr.Salvatore Maddi describes it this way:

“A combination of three attitudes (commitment, control, and challenge) that together provide the courage and motivation needed to turn stressful circumstances from potential calamities into opportunities for personal growth.”

Of these definitions it becomes easier to identify some key ways to become more hardy. In addition, however, it is important to understand that each of the following three areas have a various behavioural, cognitive, and emotional qualities that make up personality. What this means is that there are no tips, tricks, or “hacks” to hardiness. Internal work, intentional practice, and clear goals that stay consistent over time are some of the keys to improving this aspect of our personality.

The actionable aspects that I want to focus on today are two-fold, and can be implemented at any time.

The first is to become more aware of the things that we think to ourselves, and the things that we say to ourselves. Thoughts like, “I’m not good enough” or “that will never work”, while normal need to be identified with a different feeling. These thoughts appear much more often when we are doing something good, that will lead to growth, than we realize. Additionally, that negative talk in relation to others can be especially stress and anxiety inducing. Things such as, “they never pay attention to you” or “their expectations are ridiculous” can lead to more negativity, stress, and decreased performance very quickly.

Action Item: Spend some time throughout the day writing down the things you think and say to yourself. Set an alarm in your phone for 4-5 times a day and record the negative internal dialogue. Start to evaluate why you feel that way and if it is something that can be changed or not. More on that below.

The second is to become more intentional and reflective with how we approach the controllable and uncontrollable aspects of our life. In our Boosting Resiliency Launchpad, we work with participants on understanding and identifying the true controllables and uncontrollables in our lives. These are often mixed up and many people have a misunderstanding of what truly is or is not in their control. Hint: if it’s in the present moment, it is in your control. If not, it’s not.

Action Item: For just a couple days spend some time writing down notable events from your day. I use an excel sheet to keep it neat, but a typical journal or the notes app on your phone works too. After recording them, reflect on each item and put either a “C” or a “U” beside each one to represent whether it was TRULY controllable or uncontrollable at the time. For all of the controllables, ask yourself if you put your best toward those things. Why? Why not? For all of the uncontrollables, reflect on whether you put too much energy (emotional or physical) into them when it wouldn’t change anything. Why? Is there a negative energy pattern here? Are you wasting energy on uncontrollables while also not putting enough into things you actually can control?

These two simple steps, when practiced over time, with a high level of commitment to consistency and authentic reflection, will make huge differences into your ability to respond to daily expected and unexpected stressors.


This article was supported with information from The Hardiness Institute and the paper, “Psychological Hardiness, Big Five Personality, and Demographic Factors as Predictors of College Enrolment Among Military Veterans” by Dr.Rogers W. Loche III (2012)

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