Do Hard Things



“Steve Magness is one of the giants of modern thinking about high performance across domains. . . . Real Toughness is a crucial read for anyone who cares about delivering their best when the stakes are highest.”—Alex Hutchinson, New York Times bestselling author of Endure

From beloved performance expert and bestselling author of Peak Performance comes a revolutionary science-based new definition of toughness—one that focuses on assessing a challenge on a physiological and psychological level.

Toughness has long been held as a fundamental key to achieving peak performance. For generations, we’ve been taught toughness means bulldozing through—pushing to the point of breakdown—and that showing any sign of weakness is failure. This model of toughness has long been glorified and celebrated. But the truth is, it doesn’t work.

Steve Magness, a performance scientist who coaches Olympic athletes, now offers a new kind of toughness—real toughness—that can help anyone navigate adversity and challenge. Grounded in the latest sports science and psychology, real toughness is about paying attention to your physiological, emotional, and psychological responses (from pain to anger) and working with them to overcome a challenge. Real toughness works with our biology and psychology; fake toughness fights against them.

Real toughness is based on four core pillars which cultivate genuine inner strength:

  • Pillar 1—Ditch the Façade, Embrace Reality
  • Pillar 2—Listen to Your Body
  • Pillar 3—Respond, Instead of React 
  • Pillar 4—Transcend Discomfort

Like Endure and The Talent Code, Real Toughness flips the script on what it means to be tough, pointing to new research that shows how our understanding of resilience—one that ignores discomfort—is wrong. Magness draws from mindfulness, military case studies, sports psychology, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy to show how real toughness makes us more successful, happier, and better people.


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