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A characteristic of being mentally tough is that you spot and seize opportunities to make things happen. Your openness and flexibility to seeing and adopting new ideas means that you naturally find better ways quicker and faster. This is a feature of the Challenge C in the 4 C’s of Mental Toughness.

However, paradoxically it is your inflexibility, your ‘no-exception’ routine that helps you to become more flexible. By adopting a no exception routine you develop a rock solid foundation of habits, priorities and boundaries that guard and protect your productivity. You complete these routines “come hell or high water” which removes the opportunity to compromise or ‘cop out’. You complete on setting your goals and targets and achieving them. With no exceptions.

This inflexibility creates a tough mind. No exception routines may include getting up in the morning at the same (preferably early) time each morning, ensuring that you exercise at the same time and eat the same (healthy) breakfast. This routine helps you to confidently build your day.  There are no compromises. No ‘I’ll sleep in if I feel tired’ or ‘a ten minute snooze’.

Similarly, if your routine includes exercise at lunchtime build it into your day as a no exception routine. Is it a priority to leave the office or stop work at a certain time each day? Introduce it as a no exception routine.

Reducing your alcohol intake? Give it up altogether as then it removes the temptation of compromise.

Ironically protecting and increasing your productivity this way then gives you more opportunity to be creative and flexible.

So, what are your no-exception routines that will build your tough mind, ensure you consistently and reliably achieve your daily goals ?

Paul Lyons is an experienced CEO, Coach, Speaker, NED and MTQ48 accredited. As CEO of Mental Toughness Partners, he assists individuals and organisations to develop their mental toughness to improve performance, behaviour and wellbeing. You can find him at and