Article by Simon T. Bailey
If you look up definitions of the word “fortitude,” you’ll find entries like “courage through adversity” or “resolute endurance.” While I think those definitions are accurate, I don’t believe they fully encapsulate what the term truly means.
Fortitude, as I define it, is the strength of mind that enables a person to experience adversity with courage. The Latin root of the word is fortis, meaning “strong.” Etymologically, fortitude is linked to the term “fortified,” meaning “made stronger or more secure.”
Characters like Diana Prince of Wonder Woman and Storm of X-Men offer examples of what it means to have fortitude, but this isn’t just a characteristic of superheroes. Like many personal traits, fortitude is a muscle you can exercise — and if you build it up enough, it can become your professional edge.
I know this from experience. Fortitude helped me — and many others — get where I am today. Before I started my own business, 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 that safety net of reassurance and resources. The thing that has allowed me to persevere over the past 17 years is fortitude. Every time I’ve wanted to throw in the towel, I’ve received a comment, thank-you message, feedback email, or testimonial highlighting my work ethic or the difference I made. That has kept me going.
Fortitude is ultimately a mindset, one that says, “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 MEDS
Meditation, exercise, diet, and sleep — or “MEDS” — 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 a lacquer containing precious metals like gold, silver, or platinum. The repairs become part of the object’s history, making the finished vessel stronger and more beautiful than it was before it had been broken and mended.
You, too, are 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.
Simon T. Bailey is an international speaker, writer, and personal transformation strategist. He is the author of Shift Your Brilliance: Harness the Power of You, Inc., and Be the SPARK: Five Platinum Service Principles for Creating Customers for Life. When he’s not working, he enjoys rooting for the Buffalo Bills (his hometown team).