Many people are aware of the need for ongoing self-improvement. But often the emphasis is placed on external factors: physical fitness, acquiring skills to make yourself a stronger leader, or executive acumen.

However, none of that will get you where you truly want to go without support from a strong inner core. Few understand this better than Jennifer Maanavi, Owner, CEO and Co-Founder of Physique 57 . Maanavi, a YPO member with a background in both dance and Wall Street finance, advocates that both the physical and mental core need regular workouts.

After an MBA with high honors from Columbia and a long career with Morgan Stanley, Maanavi distressed at the closing of her favorite fitness studio that featured The Lotte Berk Method which was an exercise technique inspired by ballet. Unwilling to give up her beloved workout Maanavi leveraged her own inner strength along with her brains and her partner, Lotte Berk expert Tanya Becker to build Physique 57 into a unique and successful fitness company with locations in 4 countries and more than 100 employees.

Maanavi knows that the key to building external success comes from inside. Here are her tips to building up your inner strength.

1. Ask yourself "Why?" Then find your answer.

"I've seen people that most successfully avoid complacency and mediocrity when they have a purpose, when they can answer the Why question." Maanavi explains, "I have a favorite quote from Shakespeare: 'The meaning of life is to find your gift.' When you have a purpose you do your best work, you find your deepest strength. That's when the desire for SOMETHING can transcend the desire for safety. Needing to make a difference overcomes the fear of failing." Greater focus on purpose cultivates the strength and motivation to tackle setbacks.

2. Put yourself first.

Maanavi firmly believes that actual work/life balance doesn't exist. Making your well-being your top priority will help you find the life flow that you can control and maintain. It's like filling your own well or putting on your own oxygen mask before trying to help someone else. "Strength comes from knowing you have the equipment and tools to handle life's challenges," says Maanavi. "Give yourself time to build that equipment and procure the tools to direct the life you want to lead. I argue that being egocentric makes you a stronger contributor to your own goals, which ultimately provides a positive outcome for those in your sphere of influence who rely on your strength for progress."

3. Train your mental and emotional body, as well as your physical self.

"Your body is stronger than you think and it WILL give you what you need, when you need it, IF you feed it the right mindset. That's as important as the right nutrients. A positive mindset and an even pace will get you through even the roughest of times."

4. Decide, commit, and act.

"Being strong relies on the efficient use of energy," she explains. "Indecision saps energy and promotes the failure to act, so learn to be decisive. I consider that a gift you give to yourself and others."

5. Don't let fear factor into your decision making.

Maanavi hates to see people reject opportunities because of the fear that they can't do it or something might go wrong. "I understand the need to consider the pros and cons of our decisions, but be self-aware, too. Are you identifying risks or being just plain fearful? If fear is keeping you from the next step/adventure/challenge, then you are allowing it to defeat you. It makes you your own worst enemy, derailing your growth and development."

6. Embrace what scares you.

Physique 57 has a tagline: Do the undoable. For Maanavi, this means proving that you can take on immense challenges, which will yield increased confidence and inner strength. "Life can be a constant struggle between what you don't think you can do (and remain in status quo) and what you absolutely can do (progress). Strength comes from doing what you thought you couldn't do. When you swap out comfort for challenge, change happens and the result is a better, stronger you. It is exhilarating and memorable."

7. De-clutter your mind.

Even as little as 10 minutes of meditation a day removes the mental junk that depletes your energy. It restores focus and clarity. Maanavi insists, "The people I know who meditate are one step ahead of others. Their minds move faster, they are mentally clear and much more decisive. They are a force to be reckoned with."

8. Become your own best friend.

Maanavi never minds spending time alone: "When I exercise or prep for a tough assignment, I feel like I am spending time with my best friend. I love the joy of watching that person make noticeable progress and, even better, breakthroughs. This time spent with my striving self is mentally nourishing and gives me the strength to do it again and again. I like that person and want to see her often."

9. Practice calm and self-control in adversity.

"Aggression eats away at strength and creativity, replacing them with hostility and closemindedness," she explains. "Panic also weakens the soul, preoccupying the mind and prohibiting your light from shining through." Replace them with calm, controlled perseverance, which will help you achieve whatever you've set out to do.

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