What is Mental Strength and Do You Have It?


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I’m fairly certain that most people would like to think that they have what it takes to succeed; determination, grit, Mental Strength, resilience.

But how do you know for sure? After all you can’t improve what you can’t measure.

Until recently Mental Strength (toughness) was generally subjective. We would look at a business person, an athlete, or an artist achieve great success in the face of adversity and say, “WOW…they must be really mentally strong to get through that!”

We would determine a person’s Mental Strength by their success. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a way to measure this.

So What is Mental Strength?

An excellent place to start is defining what mental toughness is. Until recently there hasn’t been a solid description of what mental toughness is. Then in 2012 after numerous case studies and research Clough & Strycharczyk developed this widely accepted definition of mental toughness.

“Mental Toughness is a personality trait which determines in large part how people deal with challenge, stressors and pressure …. irrespective of prevailing circumstances.”

It is also defined as:

“An ability to overcome adversity and persevere through difficult and challenging situations or circumstances, to remain focused on the process.”

What is So Important About Mental Strength?

Through research, several benefits of being mentally strong have emerged. They are:

  • Performance: Individuals perform more effectively in terms of volume and quality of work.
  • Positive Behavior: The higher the level of Mental Strength, the more the individual demonstrates positive behaviors.
  • Well-being: The greater the level of Mental Strength, the greater the sense of well-being.
  • Aspirations: Studies show that Mental Strength appears to be positively correlated with career aspirations and aspirations in general.
  • Employability: There is a clear relationship between an individual’s Mental Strength and their ability to not only get a job, but to get the job they want.
  • Completion Rates: A mentally strong person is more likely to complete a project on time and on target.
  • Other Considerations: Developing psychological or emotional resilience and Mental Strength is a very important life skill.

What Exactly Makes Up Mental Strength?

There are four major components of Mental Strength and they are:

Control – Control means having a sense of self-worth and describes the extent to which a person feels in control of their life and their circumstances. Importantly, it also describes the extent to which they can control the display of their emotions.

A mentally strong person will usually “get on with it” irrespective of how they feel and their positive approach can often lift the spirits of those around them.

Commitment – Commitment is about goal orientation and ‘stickability’ and describes the extent to which someone is prepared to set goals for what they need to do and make measurable promises that, once made, they will work hard to deliver on.

Control and Commitment, when combined, are what most people mean when they think of resilience. They are indeed a solid response to adversity, but resilience is largely a passive quality and is only one part of Mental Strength.

Challenge – Challenge describes the extent to which the individual will push back their boundaries, embrace change and accept risk. It’s also about how they see all outcomes – good and bad.

Mentally strong people view challenges, change and adversity as opportunities rather than threats and will relish the chance to learn and grow in new and unknown situation. Someone whose challenge score is high will typically enjoy new places, new people, innovation and creativity.

Confidence – Confidence completes the picture and describes the self-belief an individual has in their own abilities and the interpersonal confidence they have to influence others and deal with conflict and challenge. When faced with a challenge, mentally strong people scoring high in confidence, will possess the self-belief to deal with the situation and the inner strength to stand their ground when needed. Their confidence enables them to represent their view boldly and be comfortable in handling objections.

To be Mentally Strong there are four main areas in which you need to excel at. They are:

1. Control: Individuals who score high on this scale feel that they are in control of their work and of their work environment. At the high end of the scale they will be able to handle lots of things at the same time. At the other end, they may only be comfortable handling one thing at a time.

  • Control (emotion) – Individuals scoring highly on this scale are better able to control their emotions. They are better able to keep anxieties in check.
  • Control (life) – Individuals scoring higher on this scale are more likely to believe that they control their lives. They feel that they can make a difference.

2. Challenge (sometimes called change orientation): Describes the extent to which individuals see problems as opportunities. At one end of the scale we find those who thrive in continually changing environments. At the other end, we find those who prefer to minimize their exposure to change and the problems that come with that.

3. Commitment: Sometimes described as “stickability”, this describes the ability for an individual to carry out tasks successfully despite any problems or obstacles which arise whilst achieving the goal. Consequently, an individual who scores at the high end of the scale will be able to handle and achieve things to tough unyielding deadlines.

4. Confidence: Individuals who are high in confidence have the self-belief to successfully complete tasks, which may be considered too difficult by individuals with similar abilities but with lower confidence. At the other end of the scale individuals will be unsettled by setbacks and will feel undermined by these.

  • Confidence (abilities): Individuals scoring highly on this scale are more likely to believe that they are truly worthwhile.
  • Confidence (interpersonal): Individuals scoring highly on this scale tend to be more assertive. They are less likely to be intimidated in social settings and are more likely to cope with difficult or awkward people.

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Can You Develop Mental Strength?

Absolutely, yes you can!

Mental Strength is a malleable personality trait which means it can be developed.

Developing Mental Strength generally happens by teaching you to handle stress more effectively through making fundamental changes to the way you think about problems and by teaching you the tactics and strategies that mentally tough people use.

Either approach can work, although the program needs to be tailored as you will likely have a unique profile with different strengths and development needs. The Mental Strength Programme offers reflection and a conversation with an experienced Mental Strength Coach, you would commit to a purposeful practice using the appropriate techniques. These techniques fall into 5 categories:

  1. Positive Thinking: There are many techniques for developing a “can do” mindset which include self-talk and stopping or reframing negative thoughts.
  2. Mental Rehearsal: This involves developing your ability to first imagine something in your head to help you deal with a real event.
  3. Energy Management: Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques will enable you to deal with those panic moments when things seem out of control, producing a physiological reaction.
  4. Goal Setting: Tools and techniques that support the development of your sense of purpose and how to set about achieving it.
  5. Attention Control: Used extensively in sports to teach athletes how to focus better and longer, as well as developing mindfulness, which is learning how to notice what is happening around you.

How to Measure Mental Strength

Now that we know each component of Mental Strength, the next step is to measure it. This is done by assessing Readiness to Change and Emotional Intelligence.

These Questionnaires are a dynamic and revealing diagnostic test that identifies the resilience and mental toughness of individuals. The tool can be used to enable a program of interventions to help the learner change their Mental Strength, or it can show someone how to adopt the behaviours that a mentally strong person would have.

These Questionnaires are online assessments and are accessed via links and takes just 20-30 minutes to complete. Results are generated quickly and presented in Pdf reports that are emailed to you immediately ofter completion of each assessment.

Where is Mental Strength Useful?

Being Mentally Strong has been proven to be beneficial in improving performance, increasing positivity and aspirations, creating greater well-being as well as a calmer and lower stress response to change.

As a result, the Mental Toughness Questionnaire has many useful applications. Especially for people and organizations that are subject to pressures and challenges or wherever performance, behavior and well-being is an issue.

The Mental Strength Assessment is Widely Used in Businesses for:

  • Training & Development
  • Leadership Development
  • Coaching
  • Organisation Development
  • Performance
  • Talent Management
  • Career Transition and Outplacement
  • Work-Life Balance

The Mental Strength Assessment is Widely Used in Sport

The beneficial impact of Mental Strength is well understood by most coaches and athletes. The key areas are:

  • Performance
  • Positive Behaviour
  • Well-being
  • Aspirations

The Mental Strength Assessment is extremely effective in the Sports sector using language applicable in the sporting world. The results enable coaches, trainers and athletes to make better assessments and identify why they do or do not perform under pressure.

It can also explain why some athletes are better suited at contact sports and why some perform better in team sports than in solitary sports. It also explains why an athlete of lesser ability can often and will often beat an athlete of greater ability.

There are assessments for specific sports so your report can be geared precisely to give you the competitive advantage.

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In Summary

We have:

  • The ability to define and describe an important aspect of our personality – Mental Strength.
  • A concept which is accessible to everyone and which helps to explain performance, well-being and behaviour.
  • Psychometric assessments which measure an individual’s Mental Strength for readiness to change and emotional intelligence.
    A Mental Strength Development program which delivers measurable results.

 

If you feel you want to develop the level of mental strength you want/need in order to live life like a warrior being  kind, compassionate, ruthless in your determination to succeed yet remaining ethically and morally sound, resilient to failures and cheerful when the shit hits the fan. Then get in touch with me to discuss the options below.

  1. Self directed – go through the assessments yourself and the online course in your own time with no input from me
  2. 8 Week coaching Programme – go through the assessments and the online course, plus 8 weekly coaching calls to fine tune your progress and development and ensure you achieve your aim.

Whatever you decide I salute you for considering your options and making an informed decision for yourself and your future.

Here’s to your success and your mental strength.

Simon

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