Do You Have the Competitive Edge of Fortitude?

Fortitude, as I define it, is the strength of mind that enables a person to experience adversity with courage. If you look up definitions of the word, you’ll find “courage through adversity” or “resolute endurance.” While I think those versions are accurate, I don’t believe they fully encapsulate what the term truly means. 

The Latin root of the word is fortis, or strong, and the etymology “fortified” signifies something that is “made stronger or more secure.” We see the term portrayed in film with characters like Diana Prince in Wonder Woman and Storm in X-Men. But fortitude isn’t just a characteristic of superheroes—it’s a muscle you can grow to be your professional edge. 

There was a time before I started my own business when I had a guaranteed paycheck, benefits galore and the security of working for a major corporation. Once I struck out on my own, I no longer had the safety net of reassurance and resources. 

The one thing that has allowed me to persevere over the past 17 years I’ve been in business for myself has been fortitude. Every time I wanted to throw in the towel, I received a comment, thank you message, feedback email or testimonial highlighting my work ethic or the difference I made, and that’s what kept me going.

Fortitude is having the mindset that if you keep showing up, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. Here’s my formula for fostering fortitude: 

1. Focus on authenticity.

Be true to yourself and lean into your natural talents, interests and passions. When you can see yourself in what you do, you no longer need external validation.

2. Piggyback on previous successes.

We’re evidence-based beings. Your history of success can bridge the gap between internal confidence and professional competence.

3. Take your M.E.D.S.

Meditation, exercise, diet and sleep all fuel your mental fortitude. Your intellectual and emotional well-being are contingent on your physical health and vice versa.

There is a Japanese pottery technique called kintsugi in which broken stoneware is repaired with gold, silver or platinum mixed into lacquer. The repairs become part of the object’s history, making the finished vessel stronger and more beautiful because of them. 

You are the same. You’re stronger because of your challenges and all of the experiences and insight you’ve collected over the years. By being true to yourself, remembering what you’re capable of and prioritizing your wellness, you can master the fortitude formula and craft a competitive edge.


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This article originally appeared in the September/October 2020 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
Photo by evablanco/Twenty20

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