Last week, we listed the first seven things that mentally strong workers avoid, based on the work of Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and author of the book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do. If you missed that column, you can read it online here:

In my opinion, the final six items on the list are at least as important to success as the others. You may be surprised by a couple of them.

8. They don’t continually repeat their mistakes

We’re all familiar with one of the oldest pieces of job advice ever given: don’t make the same mistake twice. In reality, a lot of people do make the same mistakes more than once. However, most don’t make them with the same severity as the first time. Thus, there’s learning and progress involved.

Quick story. At my first full-time job at age 19, with a fleet vehicle operation, I was trained on a tire repair machine. I understood what to do, but the first time I was on my own I ruined a tire. One of the guys on the team ran me through the process again.

The second time I only destroyed the tube inside the tire (all our tires required tubes. Google it). That was an improvement!

Workers are going to make repeated mistakes, especially with complex systems. The key is to coach them along to make sure they’re moving closer to the desired result.

9. They don’t resent the success of others

I’ve worked in teams where people celebrated each other’s successes, and the reverse of that, where there was jealousy and hate directed toward those who did well.

On the latter, it’s usually accompanied by gossip that the high achievers are getting more support from management, or some kind of side hanky-panky is going on.

If you let this go unchallenged, it never goes away.

10. They don’t give up after a first failure

The strong can’t wait to get back into the game. Help them analyze why they stumbled, then plan to overcome the trouble.

Unlike others who may not have the same tough mindset, these people don’t need much hand-holding. They need to find answers.

They’re likely closer to the situation, so let them drive the problem solving process.

11. They don’t fear alone time

Mentally strong people are fine working on their own, and also learning independently. Not everyone can prosper in that situation.

Organizations who identify a worker with this characteristic should feel comfortable in assigning her/him solo projects, in addition to regular responsibilities.


12. They don’t feel the world owes them anything

Not just that, but they wouldn’t wait around for it if the world did owe them.

They want to do for themselves. They look for opportunity and deliver on promises. When they finish something, they want more.

Some want to blaze their own trail, and understand that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll eventually leave the organization to start their own business.

Leaders must get past this idea.

Strong-minded achievers can potentially do everything they want without exiting your company. The term used to describe this is intrapreneurial, rather than entrepreneurial.

Imagine if you could provide a key player with all the excitement of launching a promising project, where they had decision-making authority, and yet could enjoy a team atmosphere and access to greater resources than if they were on their own.

13. They don’t expect immediate results

We live in a world that craves instant gratification, with far too many people in constant pursuit of what I’ve called the N.B.T. — Next Big Thing.

That’s the next big fashion breakthrough, next hot movie, next big music release, next event, next whatever. They go from next this to next that, suffering from a massive case of FOMO, the fear of missing out.

This is like getting a jolt from a sweet snack, with the blood sugar peak and energy rush. After awhile, your body crashes and you need another one.

The strong appreciate the continual investment of time and effort into something truly worthwhile, and they’re willing to wait on the harvest.

We can all learn by observing what strong-willed people do, and perhaps we’ll learn more by understanding what they don’t do.

Jerry Roberts comments on business and the workplace daily at 7:20 am on The Ray Gibson Show on The Point, 93.3 FM. He can be reached at, or email


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