Sunday, 12 January 2014

Do you have mental toughness?

When I went to the Communications Directors Forum in the Autumn I heard about a concept that really resonated with me: mental toughness.

Wikipedia describes mental toughness as a a term commonly used by coaches, sport psychologists, sport commentators, and business leaders describing a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances (such as difficult training or difficult competitive situations in games) and emerge without losing confidence.

It's more than resilience; it's about being able to perform to the best of your ability, consistently, regardless of the challenges you face. It's a fantastic quality to cultivate in business and generally in life.

Clough and Earle, who developed a test to measure mental toughness called MTQ48, describe the concept through the 4Cs:

  • Control - Life Control - I really believe I can do it. Emotional Control - I can manage my emotions and the emotions of others.
  •  Commitment - Goal Setting - I promise to do it - I like working to goals. Achieving - I'll do what it takes to keep my promises and achieve my goals.
  • Challenge - Risk Taking - I will push myself - I am driven to succeed. Learning from Experience - even setbacks are opportunities for learning. 
  • Confidence - Abilities - I believe I have the ability to do it - or can acquire the ability. Interpersonal Confidence - I can influence others - I can stand my ground if needed.
In January, when thoughts naturally turn to goals for the coming year, whether a sporting challenge, losing weight or meeting a career objective, an exploration of your own mental toughness can be a good place to start. Here's some questions to start you thinking:
  • Do you feel that you have mental toughness?
  • How have you demonstrated that over the past weeks and months?
  • How might mental toughness help you meet a challenge you're facing?
  • Is it something you'd like to develop more of? 
Mental toughness can be developed through experiences that put you under enough stress to grow and learn, but not enough to scare you off a similar challenge again. Could you develop your mental toughness in 2014?

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