Executive Toughness by Jason Selk


“The three characteristics of executive toughness are accountability, focus, and optimism. You will develop your executive toughness through daily practice of these 10 mental toughness fundamentals:” – Jason Selk

  1. Define your win
  2. Create your vision of self-image
  3. Set product goals; emphasize process goals
  4. Prioritize priorities
  5. Complete daily performance evaluations
  6. Control your arousal state
  7. Know your scripts
  8. Prepare mentally everyday
  9. Develop a relentless solution focus
  10. Adopt Gable discipline


“All day long, the thermostat governs the temperature in the room and won’t allow the room temperature to rise or drop from the desired temperature for long. Human beings are the same way: we neither outperform nor underperform our self-image for long.” – Jason Selk
As Henry Ford points out: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re wright.” This is such a powerful concept and I really like how Selk uses the thermostat as an analogy (although I don’t know how true it is when it comes to outperforming). I took this as a way to think about yourself. I have a pretty high standard for myself and self perception and I constantly strive to reach it. If you haven’t thought about your self perception, maybe you should really reflect on this idea.


“David Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech University, has found that individuals who write down their goals will have nine times the success of those who don’t put their goals on paper.” – Jason Selk
I have my daily goals on a spreadsheet. I fill it out each morning and bold the ones accomplished each night. I have my monthly goals (short term) on my whiteboard and I check it off as I accomplish them (I just looked at it and know that I have a lot of work to reach them). I haven’t found a good way to have my longer term goals (6mths, 1yr, 3 yrs), but I seem to do a full analysis on myself every few months so I think I’m okay with it for now. Do I feel like I’m 9x more successful? I don’t know.


“Product goals are all great end points, and writing them down is an important first step. But the truth is that setting product goals is the easy part, and that is precisely where most individuals stop short. The real key is to develop two or three process goals for each of your product goals.” – Jason Selk
My monthly goals tend to be more product goals – results oriented. My daily goals are more process goals – think of it like a step towards the product goal. Each day I accomplish the process goal, I’m that much closer to reaching my product goal. The PN goes on to talk about having 1 year product goals for each part of life and uses process goals more as daily habits that should be done but I prefer having tangible goals more directly related to the product goal. As for you, do whatever feels most right and change it up when something feels better!


“One of the little-known secrets of successful individuals is that those who are most successful evaluate themselves daily.” – Jason Selk
1. center breath (a type of breathing technique)
2. recite your identity statement in your head
3. run through your perfect day and your perfect you
4. repeat identity statement
5. center breath
Not much was mentioned in the PN, but it did say the book goes into much more detail for each of these concepts.

problem-centric thought (PCT) vs relentless solution focus (RSF)

“For whatever reason, our brains are built in a way that PCT comes more naturally than RSF. It’s natural to focus on mistakes, the past, barriers, and what you don’t have rather than on what you do have.” – Jason Selk
The answer is simple, start focusing on being RSF. Of course, it’s much harder to do that. So next time you’re faced with a PCT, take a breath. Then take a deeper breath. Then take more of those deep breaths. And now you’re ready to be RSF.


“1. Complete your process goals every day . . . no excuses!
2. Commit to replacing all negative or problem-focused thought with solution-focused thinking within 60 seconds (RSF)”
3. Complete mental workouts and success logs five days per week.”

My Take Aways

Executive Toughness is structured around the 10 fundamentals mentioned at the beginning. Brian Johnson just focused on the six he felt was most powerful. I don’t disagree – the concepts he mentioned are all really important things. Some of these I’ve been doing without really thinking about the appropriate words to describe it, and some of them (ie/ self image) gave me a pretty cool perspective.

A really neat thing is that this book has 5/5 on Amazon with a few hundred reviews so it should mean that it’s a great book and that I should take the time to read it. This is going down on my list of books to read. If you’re interested in Executive Toughness, get the book from Amazon here (please note that I will be getting a small amount from Amazon, though it does not affect how much you pay – Amazon just makes less money than if you were to go onto the website yourself). I also suggest you check out the actual Philosopher’s Notes (note they even have courses that consolidate many of the concepts in the books that Brian Joshnson covers and puts them into videos that are really easy to digest). This is the first program that I’ve signed up for and am definitely getting my money’s worth!

Best of luck implementing the concepts – would love to hear what resonated with you and / or what your biggest challenges are!


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