On December 7, 1941, Japan made a grave mistake. Some people called the attack on Pearl Harbor “the awakening of a sleeping giant.”

The most important presentation you’ll ever make is the one you make to yourself. And the foundation of mental toughness is mental clarity. In other words, knowing exactly what you want, why you want it—and what you’re willing to sacrifice to get it.

You would think terrorist strategists would have done a little more homework before they decided to massacre thousands of innocent Americans on September 11, 2001.

The sleeping giant is awake again—and he is not happy.

As a mental toughness coach and strategist for Fortune 500 companies, I see where Bin Laden made his biggest mistake: he attacked us so viciously and so massively that he ended up uniting the entire civilized world against him. He’s done the most foolish thing any nation, country or political body can do: he's backed a giant into a corner.

Now the giant is wounded and bleeding—and getting meaner every day.

In your lifetime, have you ever seen so many American flags flying? As a professional speaker, I crisscross the country many times each year. Everywhere I go, people are flying their flags and talking tough. The hearts of Americans seem filled with a “Give me liberty or give me death” kind of spirit.

The Power of Clarity

“Okay, Steve: how does this relate to presentation skills?” It’s simple, really.

The most important presentation you’ll ever make is the one you make to yourself. And the foundation of mental toughness is mental clarity. In other words, knowing exactly what you want, why you want it—and what you’re willing to sacrifice to get it.

Once you’ve established that, you begin to develop a laser-like focus on the goal. You no longer waste energy wondering what you should do, or what price you’re willing to pay. Every thought and effort is directed toward the goal; you’re no longer wasting time negotiating the sacrifices. The die is cast, the deal is done, all systems are go—all that’s left is the work and time to complete it.

In mental toughness terms, the hard part is over.

We are all in the process of witnessing the mental toughening of America. The goal is simple. To preserve freedom, liberty and the American way. The sacrifice? Whatever it takes to win. I’m willing to fight, and if necessary, die for this goal, and I’ll bet you are, too. That makes us a very dangerous opponent.

Knowing the razor-sharp mental clarity and personal commitment that Americans have toward winning the war against terrorism, would you be willing to bet your life savings against us?

Smart money is on the mentally tough competitor.

So here’s the question: Do you have that same mental clarity and commitment in your networking business? If not, decide what you want, why you want it and what you’re willing to do to get it.

Once you have these answers, you have the foundation of mental toughness. Without these answers, you’re operating your business like an amateur.

Remember the mental climate in the 70’s regarding Vietnam? Nothing was clear. Was it a police action…or a war? Should we be there…or was it wrong? Protests. Unrest. Chaos. As a nation, America was not clear about its goals and objectives—and it cost us 58,000 American lives.

Such lack of mental clarity is the biggest problem in business today, in terms of performance.

Three Steps to a Laser-Focused Vision

Stop now and make some decisions. Establish your dream and ask yourself if you’re willing to fight for it. If not, then develop a bigger, more emotionally-driven dream. Awaken your sleeping giant, as America has awakened hers. Once you have established a crystal clear, laser-focused, emotionally charged vision, you have taken the first step.

The second step is to write your vision down. I recommend doing this with an exercise I call, “letter to a friend.” I use this exercise with Fortune 500 executive teams to help them extract and clarify their ultimate vision for their personal and professional lives. It’s simple, easy, and more powerful than a locomotive. Here’s what you do:

Make up a fictitious friend, someone you haven’t seen or spoken to in two years, or five, or ten—choose whatever time line you want for your vision. Then, write a letter to this friend, describing everything you plan to do, see, become, have, create, in your vision. Write the letter in the present tense—but date it according to when you will have completed the vision.

The third step is to read your letter every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to sleep. Once you have memorized it, you can simply visualize it, rather than actually reading it. Your vision will become so deeply ingrained, your subconscious will automatically go to work to make it a reality.

The subconscious mind always seeks congruency, just as water always seeks its own level. This means that anything you say is true, your mind will work day and night to make true. Incongruence makes your mind uncomfortable; this exercise sets your subconscious in motion in an effort to seek congruency.

So get clear…get focused…and get your subconscious in your corner. Your success in this business may depend on it.

Steve Siebold is co-founder of the Gove-Siebold Group,
a training organization that helps networkers develop world-class communication skills.