Self-Leadership: Mental Muscle Goes Beyond Book Smarts

College student strugglingA recent survey (Morin, 2017) revealed that although students felt academically prepared for college, they expressed concern regarding their lack of emotional preparedness to take care of themselves, adapt to new environments, control negative emotions or behaviors, and build positive relationships.  What happened?  Did the cart get put before the horse?  Did well-meaning parents overinvest in the academic advantage before building a solid foundation of soft skills and competencies that would allow the hard skills and knowledge to flourish?  Unfortunately, many of these intelligent college students are turning to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of uncomfortable feelings. Heartbreaking! What can be done?  My recommended solution is mental boot camp with a coach.

What happens when we don’t exercise our muscles? You would probably answer, “They get flaccid and lose strength!”  This concept also applies to our mental muscle.  You may ask, “What is mental muscle?” I define mental muscle as the integrated system of intelligence quotient (IQ), emotional intelligence (EI), and social intelligence (SI). It requires regular exercise to remain strong and available to solve problems.

You cannot strengthen a muscle by reading how to strengthen it or by observing someone else strengthening theirs.  The only way to grow muscle is to exercise it, which means that likely you will need to put yourself in challenging situations where you will struggle and sometimes fail.  No one would deny that everyone could benefit from a trainer when working out in the gym, and the same concept applies when growing your mental muscle.  Everyone can benefit from a coach, who will be your partner as you work through a life plan, overcome obstacles, and get up and dust yourself off to try a different approach.

Morin (2017) found that although the majority of college students were struggling with emotional preparation and mental strength, nearly half of them felt that everyone else had life figured out but them.  Little did they know that they were not alone!  I encourage all young adults to reach out for a coaching partner.


Morin, A. (2017). A Survey of 1,502 College Students Revealed This Is the One Skill They Wished Their Parents Had Taught Them. The Inc. Life. Retrieved from: -of-1502-college-students-revealed-this-is.html

HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and leadership consultant with an extensive background in business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees.  Reach out to her at or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

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