Mental Toughness advantage

"Mental toughness is finding fuel in an empty tank" -Bobby Knight-


Mental toughness

What is that bit of grit that gives some people the edge in sports, business, and life?

More than talent or intelligence, mental toughness has a greater impact on successful outcomes.

Mental toughness is a term used in psychology to refer to the resilience and strength that people possess to soldier through struggles and succeed. It is this mental toughness that gives the ability to push past exhaustion, opposition, and injury to score and to win.
Underlying mental toughness, 

"The ability to never accept that you are unable to complete something. There is no such thing as failure only the missed opportunities at being able to complete something the first time". -Michael Levenson, Ironman athlete, US Army, martial artist (Seattle, Wa)

Let's talk about it in simple terms;

The most widely applied research maps out four interrelated yet independent subcomponents underlying mental toughness:
Clough et al. (2002)

1) Commitment. Unwavering commitment to the objective. This demands a disciplined mind and belief in the desired outcome.
"It's about staying focused on the mission at hand and positive with my thoughts. This affords me the ability to not let anything stand in my way. FOCUS is a key ingredient to mental toughness". -Brian Grantham, Entrepreneur and CEO (Palm Desert, California)
2) Control. (life and emotion) The tendency to feel and act as if one is influential and keep anxieties in check. This is a strong sense of self-efficacy with an internal locus of control versus an experience of powerlessness. 

3)  Challenge. The tendency to see potential threats as opportunities for self-development and continue to strive in changing environments.

4) Confidence. (in abilities and interpersonal) The ability to push oneself forward in social settings and the belief that one is a worthwhile person despite setbacks.

"To be mentally tough, you certainly cannot take what others say to you and internalize it negatively- You have to have a positive self attitude and blow off how or what others say. Don't let it bring you off focus. A good air traffic controller is made by lots of repetition and years of working with trainers who can teach you ways to handle volume or emergencies well so you have the confidence to know what to do. The toughness kicks in. One of my trainers actually would tell me to 'be a machine' because after every radio transmission there is still something next to do. You can't ever sit back and 'admire your work'". -Jadyne Marie Seitz, ATCSCC Staff Support Specialist, Co-lead Surface CDM Team/International Operations (Haymarket, Virginia)

For those of you theoretically inclined and interested, we can summarize a couple of key points. 

Firstly, the MTQ48 is the most widely recognized questionnaire used in mapping the above traits, and personality traits is what is meant by this. As it is with other traits, addressing the nature/nurture discussion, approximately 50% of the variation in mental toughness can be accounted for by genetic factors. What is the bottom line here? It means that we have wiggle working room for development. 

Secondly, the many models and theories of MT share a core of concepts; this plethora of theories has led to the development of a number of questionnaires. Most of these have a limited validation history, which makes it very difficult to critique them. The MTQ48 is by far the most applied and most reliable, and developed from Dr. Suzanne Kobasa's, '3C's model of hardiness'

But is mental toughness solely about pushing through the hard stuff? No, it isn't. Mental toughness also entails a pro-active tendency to seek out challenges for personal growth.

"It does not only reflect an effective coping mechanism as reaction to stressors (e.g., reappraising stressful situations as opportunities for self-development) but also allows individuals to proactively seek out opportunities for personal growth due to high levels of confidence in one's abilities" (St Clair-Thompson et al., 2015).

So, the burning question is, how do we cultivate more of this in ourselves? Which methods can we utilize efficiently, and how can we tailor them to fit our individual personalities and styles to achieve lasting and dependable effects? Ah, now that's a good question.

There are a multitude of articles to be found on the Internet with tips and bullet lists, and to be brutally honest, I see pitfalls in many of them. Therein lies the challenge of turning theory and research into applied methods. It's always a work in progress within most fields. If you're serious about your development or just want to discuss the subject, get in touch with a mental coach that fits you. 

On a final note, I'll leave you all with insight from a recognized lifetime martial artist and Teacher of 30 years within several martial art systems; Blue Siytangco in Houston Texas.
"For me, the warrior mindset is crucial for mental toughness. This is a mindset that says: regardless of the circumstances you will ALWAYS wade into uncertainty bringing the certainty with you, a mindset that believes you can become whatever you need to become and gain whatever skill you need to use to survive and thrive. Specifically, it boils down to two simple rules: always choose the empowering meaning and turn everything to your advantage. Having a powerful, empowering meaning gives you the drive to push forward despite overwhelming odds. If the meaning you choose is powerful enough then you will have the mental toughness to never give up. But that by itself isn’t good enough, having the knowledge, creativity, and skill to accomplish your goals is essential as well. This part brings the results and reinforces the empowering meaning".

Do you want to learn more? Stay tuned

Drop me a line at tamified with questions or inquiries about mental coaching

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