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.”

Here’s some formula for fostering fortitude:

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.

Piggyback on Previous Successes

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

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.


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