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Podcast: How to develop mental toughness in the workplace

By Doug Strycharczyk, CEO, AQR International

 

From succeeding in your current role to finding a new job, we always face challenges and obstacles in the world of work. Frustration, anxiety, and feelings of powerlessness can leave many other struggling to perform at our best.
 

Today, I’m joined by Doug Strycharczyk and Dr Peter Clough, whose work in psychology led them to co-author the book ‘Developing Mental Toughness: Improving Performance, Wellbeing and Positive Behaviour in Others’.

Now in its third edition, the book explores how mental toughness relates to employability, performance and motivation, amongst other things. Doug and Peter will be discussing psychology in the workplace and the importance of developing one’s own mental toughness during your career.

1. Before we begin, can each of you please introduce yourself quickly to our listeners.

(1:19) Doug: Okay, I’ll start. I’m Doug Strycharczyk. I’m the CEO for AQR International, and the core of our work today is to take this concept, mental toughness, around the world. As a measure of its impact, we are now working in 81, and if we did this next week, it will be 82 countries, around the world. So, it gives you a measure of the growth of the concept around the world.

But within the context of this podcast, I’m privileged and proud to be associated with Peter. I’ve worked with Peter for about 30 years and another colleague, Dr. John Perry. And, I think we can lay claim to be thought leaders globally for this concept. I’m a practitioner more than an academic, but a lot of their academic credentials and approaches have rubbed off on me.

(2:12) Peter: I’m Professor Peter Clough. I developed the 4 C’s of mental toughness in the early 2000s. I’m a long-term academic and a research academic. But before that, I was also a paid professional sport and was a drummer in a seminal punk band. So, a varied career and it all ties in because I’ve always been interested in working with Doug and John in performance, well-being, and toughness.

2. We’re here to talk about mental toughness today. So, could you tell us what the term “mental toughness” means?

(2:54) Doug: First of all, I’ll just tackle the elephant in the room. The word “toughness” seems to upset some people and that varies around the world. In some parts of the world, they just take the concept in their stride. When we talk about “mental toughness”, we’re talking about a personality trait – I’ll come back to that in a minute – which explains to a large extent how we approach things mentally when faced with a challenge, opportunity, setback, threats, and problems. Those words that I’ve just used pretty much typify most of our experiences of life. It’s a blend of things that go wrong and opportunity and challenges.

So, it embraces two ideas. One is resilience, and the other one is positivity. So, the idea of resilience is, “I can deal with things that go wrong” while positivity is “I can see the sunshine in the clouds, and I know that tomorrow will be a better day.” These two ideas, which come together, create this notion of mental toughness. When we talk about mental toughness, we’re not talking about it in the sense of being match or aggressive. We’re talking about it in terms of being able to deal with life and thrive in life.

So, if I just come back to this term “personality” – and Peter’s going to explore that a little bit more in a moment – most people, especially in the world of careers and employability are familiar with completing personality measures. Most of the time those personality ideas and personality measures are what we would call behavioural measures. In other words, they are assessing how we act when things happen to us and around us. Of course, for a prospective employer that’s an important thing to understand. I don’t know the individual and here is the ability to kind of predict their behaviour.

Well, we’re looking at here is how we think when things happen to us and around us, and we know that thinking is very often a precursor to our behaviour. So, it’s a more fundamental aspect of personality in many ways. It reflects what employers will often describe as attitude. Very often, when you talk to employers and say, “What is the secret ingredient that makes a great employee?”, the answer you get is “attitude”. And what we’re talking about here is mental attitude.

(5:30) Peter: Sorry. If it’s fine, I’ll build upon what Doug said. When we talk about mental toughness, the model we’ve developed over the years is called a ‘4 C’s model of Mental Toughness’. Mental toughness is a narrow personality trait and people will be familiar, probably, with the Big Five. So, it’s a more targeted and specific. The first thing I really want to add into what Doug’s saying is personality traits are not what we thought they were 20 years ago. There’s more plasticity. So it can be developed. People have a starting point, they have a functionality, but it can change over time. And we know that the Big Five personality measures change over time.

When we’re talking about the 4 C’s model, it’s the easiest thing in the world to say somebody is lacking mental toughness or “he’s mentally tough”. I come from a sports background a long time ago and that’s a question I was often asked by coaches: “on a 1 to 10 scale, how tough are they?”. And it’s far more complex than that. The model is more complex, individuals are more complex than that. So there’s the 4 C’s, which are all independent to some extent.

So, you can be high on one, low on the other and you build up a profile. I’ll briefly describe and come back if we need to. We’ve got Control, Commitment, Challenging, and Confidence. And each of those is made up of eight factors. So, it’s nuanced. We go back to what Doug was saying, the “mental toughness” name, sometimes people think it’s a simpler model than it is, but it’s actually very sophisticated. It gets under the skin of people.

We’re trying to find out what people are thinking and it’s one of the great problems. A lot of the early research on mental toughness was getting coaches to rate the mental toughness of players. The coaches saw it very differently than the players themselves! So, unless you get some understanding of what’s inside somebody’s head, it’s hard to make a judgement on somebody’s mental toughness. So, we’ve got a general background, and then the specific model.

3. What are the various factors that contribute to a person’s mental toughness?

(7:55) Doug: Okay, perhaps I’ll start with that. So, if you look at the 4 C’s model that Peter has described. He said that there are four constructs, and each of those constructs has two factors. I’m going to look at it from the perspective of an employer and somebody who’s seeking to develop their career or find a job.

So, the first of the constructs is Control, and that’s really describing to what extent do I feel in sufficient control of me and my life to be able to achieve what I want – Henry Ford and his very famous saying, “If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” So, our ability to do things often isn’t anything to do with our skills or knowledge, or ability. It’s to do with what’s going on in our heads.

The first of those elements,:”Do I think I can do it?”. Some people, despite having the most wonderful set of qualities often think they can’t. So, the first element is: “Can I do it?”. The second element is when I’m under pressure, I’m not going to allow my emotions to rule my actions, or do I manage somehow to manage my emotional responses?

Then the second element is Commitment and that’s very simply “Am I somebody who understands what I’m trying to achieve? Do I have a goal? Can I visualise and articulate that goal? And if I have that goal, the second factor is, can I actually make the effort? Am I prepared mentally to make the effort to deliver that goal? Those two factors are Control and Commitment, and those two broadly equate to the thing I was describing earlier ─ resilience. That helps us to survive. When things happen, these two can help us manage what’s going on.

However, the other two elements help us to thrive. They are the positive elements. The first of those is Challenge, and that’s got two elements. One is risk orientation, and that isn’t about taking huge reckless risks, this is about being prepared to push yourself, stretch yourself, push back boundaries, try new things, meet new people, learn new skills and techniques. These are things that employers value. This is all part of employability.

And then even when you do that, you don’t always get it right. Some people when they don’t succeed, let’s say when they start a course and it doesn’t work, they give it up. If they gave it up and never go back, then they still lost a lot of their time. Some people will say, “Hang on, I really need to master that skill. This is the reason why it didn’t work the first time. I’m going back to have another go.” They’re learning from their experiences. And again, that’s a really important quality that employers value. If you’re an individual hoping to develop a career, these are the things that employers are looking for. These are the things that you need somehow to be able to present to an employer. And then, the final element is Confidence, and that’s got two bits. One is confidence in abilities. The curiosity here, and I’ve often seen in all my career, is you have incredibly talented people who don’t think they’re talented, and they do themselves down.

It’s a measure of self-belief. And then the final component is interpersonal confidence. If you’ve got it and you’ve got something that you can offer to other people, to employers, to colleagues, you need to engage with them. So, that’s about engaging with them and influencing them as much as they do you. So, you don’t find yourself squeezed out of a discussion or disregard it.

These are the eight components and are very important for an employer. If you speak to most employers and give them that as a checklist and say, “Which were those would you like?”, they’ll tick every box. If you are a person trying to find a job, that’s a checklist of the things that the employer is looking for. If you’re in a job and you’re hoping to prosper in your career, that’s also a checklist of the things you need to attend to,if you’re really going to progress in your career. That’s a quick introduction to those eight factors.

4. So, you took us through the 4 C’s: control, commitment, challenge, confidence. Should you use them as, I suppose, a checklist of sorts? What are the signs that somebody needs to work on their mental toughness? Should they go through those and take them off and identify areas where they need to work on it?

[(12:31)] Peter: I think the starting point to “how do you know if you need more mental toughness?” is what’s going on in somebody’s head. So, the opposite end of mental toughness isn’t weakness, it’s sensitivity. There’s lots of sensitive folks who were very happy, who are performing really well. Yes, mentally tough people have a certain advantage in high-pressure situations, and developing a little bit more mental toughness is always quite useful.

So, when you look at those elements, it’s more about understanding when it goes the wrong way, it’s going wrong. Take one example, say interpersonal confidence. You’re unhappy at work, it’s not functioning very well. It could be that you’re not talking to people, you’re not receiving the help you need and you’re not pushing information upwards. So, it’s really about getting 360 degrees of feedback of what’s going on. I’m just using it as a way of understanding your own internal state.

None of these models are perfect, but it gives us a shared language. So, you can look at all those things and it’s really important people don’t beat themselves up for not being mentally tough or high on all 4 C’s, because you don’t have to be. None of us are perfect. And even somebody who was extremely mentally tough has drawbacks. There’s advantages of being sensitive. There’s disadvantages of being tough. It’s just understanding, not being judgey. If you have a recurring pattern of something going wrong, it’s trying to understand and explain and discuss with people what mechanisms could be taking place.

5. Is it possible for someone to develop their mental toughness? And if so, how does someone go about it?

(14:26) Doug: Okay, so, it’s a really interesting question. Actually, it covers another question. Firstly, you can develop mental toughness and the techniques are pretty well-known. They rest on things like positive thinking, visualisation, anxiety control, the traditional stress management stuff. Then, ones that are often omitted are attentional control and goal setting. Those are the common tools and techniques that you can use.

However, there’s a more fundamental question: do I want to change my mental toughness? That has two implications. Firstly, Peter said there are people who are mentally sensitive and mentally tough. Actually, when you look at those eight factors I described before, you could be mentally tough on some of them and mentally sensitive on others. It’s understanding yourself to the extent that you understand where, what your profile is and what does it mean for what you’re trying to achieve. Not every area of mental sensitivity is going to hold you back, but one of them might. Not every area of mental toughness is helping you to propel your career forward and you need to work that out and understand that.

Then, the second bit is reflection. Is it important for me to do something about my mental toughness profile and my mental sensitivity profile in order for me to achieve what I want to achieve in life? If it isn’t, some people do not want to change. They’re quite happy the way they are. They just want to learn to cope with the days when it all goes wrong or a problem arises. That’s fine. There are also people who say, “Right, in order to be more successful with what I want to achieve, I need to change in some way.” Now, if they’re minded to change – and that’s important! You can’t change somebody who doesn’t want to change. But if they are minded to change, then those tools and techniques can work.

The only downside is there’s a lot of experimentation required. These techniques work, but they don’t all work for all people. And sometimes the progress in changing can seem painfully slow. It’s got a long answer to a very simple question, but we’ve tried to cover the different aspects of your question, too.

6. You mentioned different profiles that are mentally tough or mentally sensitive. Are there any common ways in which people with these different profiles can interact in the workplace? And if so, how?

(17:11) Peter: Doug’s got a lot more experience and actual practical cases in this area, but, some psychological truth is we function better with people who are very similar to us. Even if we don’t know they’re similar to us. A mentally tough person communicates more effectively with another mentally tough person. They see the world the same way in that respect, and you get this level of misunderstanding.

So, mentally tough people can be dismissive of sensitive people who find things a struggle. Sensitive people can be scared of mentally tough people because they always seem really together. The key here is, we’re all human beings. We all have doubts. We all have issues. We all make mistakes. But understanding is key – not everybody has to be the same. We live in a world which is moving towards a more diverse world.

Actually, a lot of our work in mental toughness is surprisingly somewhat about diversity. We don’t want to produce an army of mentally tough people stomping around. What we want is a range and we look at the overall mental toughness of a team, the score for everybody. But when I pass over to Doug, the bottom line is respect for different styles. Some people are sensitive, most people in the middle by definition, some are tough. Understanding that and respecting it [is important] because we all have different strengths and we all have different development needs. I’ll pass to Doug.

(18:40) Doug: Okay. Thank you, Peter. So, just to give it some very immediate context. One of the things we’ve noticed in our work in the last 18 months is that we’ve had more enquiries from leaders than almost any other group. The enquiries are nearly always, “I’ve been able to operate successfully for many, many years. COVID comes along and suddenly, I’m not as effective as I used to be. Why not?” That’s an issue of self-awareness. I’m going to illustrate this with just looking at one of the factors.

So, one of the factors is called ‘live control”. It’s where the sense of can-do sits. People who are mentally tough on life control are people who tend to be very high achievers. They’re not frightened about anything. If you ask them to do something that they’ve never done before, their immediate response is “yeah, I’ll have a go.” Because they will always have a go, they tend to achieve more than the average person. And so, they tend to get a reputation as the achievers: “If I’ve got a difficult job, give it to so-and-so”. They are usually very comfortable. They like this sort of self-image or the self-perception of somebody that can get things going.

But if they’re working with other people, sometimes – and this is what Peter was alluding to, that you can have sometimes downsides attached to being mentally tough – sometimes that approach, when they’re all gung-ho and wanting to get on with things, what they want to do with other people is to turn around and say, “Well, I can do it. Why can’t you?”. And that doesn’t exactly motivate people around them, that switches them off. That’s an example of, “I don’t understand my own mental toughness and I don’t really understand why somebody else is not responding to me the way I would have responded.”

Similarly, a person is mentally sensitive, who’s got a low level of mental toughness in terms of life control, they’re the sort of people who are very cautious, very hesitant about doing anything. They ask all the if’s and but’s questions and so on before they would even consider doing something that the more mentally tough person would just get on with. They will look at the more mentally tough individual and say, “Why is he shouting at me? Why are they jumping up and down? Why do they want to get on with this before I’m ready to get on with it? I don’t understand.”

And so, you can often have this kind of gap between people who are mentally tough and mentally sensitive, and they don’t realise that ─ if you like, if you want to call it a problem ─ the problem lies within them because they don’t understand themselves and they don’t understand the implications of that, for the way that they see other people. So, what we are really trying to do here with the mental toughness concept is bring out into the open this quality that is just hidden. It’s invisible. It’s in our heads. We can’t see it. We can see behaviour. We can describe behaviour. We can describe the emotions. We have the greatest of difficulty of dealing with mental toughness because it’s invisible.

And so, in creating the eight-factor framework, we’ve given people a language and an understanding of what’s going on in their heads. We’ve also been very successful at developing psychometric measure, the MTQ Plus, which is very effective at helping people to become self-aware and to understand the mental toughness and mental sensitivity in others. Like most psychometric measures, it needs to be handled properly and professionally. But it’s beginning to give us the ability to understand ourselves better and understand other people better.

7. Why is it important that we understand not only our own mental toughness but also our colleagues’ as well?

(22:32) Peter: I think there’s two elements because clearly in business, people are interested in efficiency and productivity, and that’s fine. Also understanding why things aren’t working, and the more tools and more information you’ve got [the better], because people make assumptions. Why are some are not delivering? They’ll make guesses, they’re lazy, they’ve got other things on their mind, but having something to base it on [is important]. The other element is more and more important. It is wellbeing.

So, somebody who is really well-suited to what they’re doing and is managed appropriately and a leader who is comfortable in their own skin will probably have higher levels of wellbeing. That won’t necessarily relate to better business outputs, but it’s an end in itself, more and more. I’m an occupational psychologist by training. In the 1980s, it was all about business efficiency. Now, wellbeing itself is really important. Those are two elements running side-by-side. So, understanding where you are, understanding where people are, and helping people to achieve their full potential, both in their careers and in their wider wellbeing is why it’s important to understand.

(23:46) Doug: And I would add something. It’s to do with this phrase “attitude”. I think I said before, when you go to speak to employers and ask them, “what is the secret ingredient of a great employee?”, the answer you nearly always get is “attitude”. I won’t name the organisation, but not so long ago, I worked with an organisation that sold a major division, in fact, it was more than 50% of the business, to its competitors.

One of the things they did before they let go of the division was to go through that organisation and identify the people with a great attitude and transferred them into the bit that wasn’t being sold. Because that’s the one quality they value more than anything else. If you’ve got a great attitude, you will learn new skills, you apply your skills, you’ll be highly responsive, you’ll be resilient, you’ll be positive. And I don’t know of an organisation that doesn’t have resilience and positivity as two key components in its culture.

So, from an employer’s perspective, this is what you’re looking for. This is one of the things you’re really looking for. But as I said before, it’s invisible. You can’t see it. From an employee’s perspective, you develop in your career. You need to understand to a significant extent that this is what makes you valuable. And as Peter said, we’re a mixture of these qualities. We were mentally tough and mentally sensitive. It doesn’t matter that you’re mentally sensitive up to a point. What matters is, “Do you understand your mental sensitivity? And have you developed approaches that minimise any negative consequences of that?”. Employers will really appreciate that. They just want the most flexible employee that they can get. From the employee’s perspective, what matters is “Can I offer employers this bundle of qualities that they desperately value?”

8. We know that some of our listeners find job interviews challenging, and that obviously links to confidence as well. How would you suggest someone approach a job interview? How can they make sure that they’re prepared for it mentally?

(26:04) Peter: I think, again, lots of scope with different people. So, somebody who’ss mentally tough sees a job interview, and probably even a podcast, as a way to put the information across: “Great. I’m going to talk about myself for a bit”. Other people see it as an opportunity to fail. So I come from a sports psychology background many years ago. It’s the “what if’s”. People are scared of interviews and are really sensitive about interviews – “What if it all goes wrong? What if they ask me a difficult question? What if I don’t come across [well]? What if my dress sense isn’t right?”

And they just have to turn that on its head. These are simple methods because you want a baseline of building mental toughness. But also, in the short term, you can use mental toughness techniques to deal with these pinch points.

What people visualise is that the rejection email coming through, or the letter coming through the door or hearing nothing. But it’s the same mental energy to think, “What am I going to do when the positive letter comes through?”.

“What if it goes wrong?” – it’s just switching it to “what if it goes right? What if every question I answer really effectively?”

It’s then balancing out arrogance with positivity. So, the other point is you’ve got to do prep. So, it’s the hard work, it’s the preparation. But it’s recognising your own skills, recognising what you’re not so good at, but thinking that there’s going to be a positive outcome. And I started off the work many, many years ago, looking at goal kickers in rugby league and how they deal with the fact that they’ve got a kick in the last minute, they miss and the team lose. Why don’t they go home and never play again? It’s the same with goalkeepers.

It’s because they understand the percentages, they understand the difficulty. So, if you’re going for a really high-level job, yeah, that means you will be trying to do a postgraduate degree Oxbridge and you get turned down. That’s a rare phenomenon. So, if it’s a job you should walk into, that’s one element, but  be realistic about your chances.

One of the things, I think, that puts job seekers off is they’re applying for things they have no chance of getting. That’s not lack of positivity. They’re just not suitable. They turn up to interviews when it just isn’t going to work. Are you suited? Did you have the skill set? Do you have a chance? But understanding your chance. Is it a 90%? A 30%? Or is it very unlikely? Just keep that mental approach.

The final bit is, if you’re halfway through with some dialogue, answering a question, you’ve got to put a stop to reviewing your performance while you’re doing it. The classic, the worst I’ve seen is a job interview at the University I was head of department of. During the presentation, the internal dialogue lead to the external dialogue, and the guy was standing there saying “This isn’t going very well.”, “Oh dear. I’ve got this a bit wrong.”!!! And that’s what people think. Just shut it down. You just focus. You don’t think, you stay in the moment. So, that’s the key. And mentally tough people can do that more naturally. Sensitive people can do that, but for a short period of time. And for the sensitive person, give yourself a big treat after. Well, if you’re getting the job or don’t get the job. Yeah, 40 minutes you can play and be mentally tough. You can role play and be mentally tough, but you need to unwind at the end.

9. I don’t know anyone that has managed to get every job interview that they’ve ever gone to. So, it’s inevitable that we’re all going to face rejection at some point when we’re looking for a new role. How do you move on from that? How do you move on and pick yourself up to go at it again?

(30:12) Doug: So, being rejected for a job and if your interview hasn’t gone well, I mean, that happens to us in many different aspects of life. So we got to get used to the setback in some way and part of it is putting it into perspective: “There was only one job and there were a hundred applicants. I got to the last three”. Turning that into a measure of success, right? “I got close. Maybe next time, I’ll get a bit closer”, that sort of thing.

But the other thing is one of the elements of the mental toughness concept that I described earlier. One of the factors is something we call “learning orientation” and that’s where we understand that some people are better at reflecting and learning from their experiences. So if something’s gone not right and I haven’t got the job, first thing to do is to think about “Well, what did I do? What could I have done better? Having been through an interview, I’ve got a better understanding of what they were looking for. How could I tweak my CV? How can I tweak my interview approach in order to be more successful next time?”

We’ve got to be in that constant learning frame of mind. We can’t just start out with one approach and then keep throwing that at the situation and hope one day it sticks. It won’t necessarily stick, but you will just improve your chances of getting a job if you start learning from your experiences. In a way, that is also a form of success: “I’m learning something, I’m getting better at what I’m doing”, and that can help to build a degree of confidence. So, I would say that that’s an important part of it. But there’s another element that we sometimes forget that an interview is all the textbooks say it’s a two-way discussion. We sometimes forget. We think it’s a one-way discussion. It’s the employer grilling me for a job. It’s also my opportunity to learn about the organisation and the different types of organisations are out there.

In my career, I have twice succeeded at getting jobs and regretted getting those jobs because I found out the culture in the organisations just didn’t suit me! Also, you need to use the interview to learn about the organisation and learn about whether it would actually suit you. So you might be getting rejected because the employer understands you’re not going to fit very well, but it would be nice if you also understood that. So, I think there’s a lot in these situations that people can use if they reflect on their experience and extract the learning from me.

(32:52) Peter: Yeah, and it’s legitimate. It isn’t not being mentally tough to be disappointed if you don’t get the job you really want, or to be really upset, but you just put a time limit on that. Yeah, you don’t get it, it’s upsetting. I get turned down for many, many, many jobs. Yeah, you’re frustrated. My colleague, co-author Dr. John Perry talks about two test tubes. One with resources and one with the demands. I think, my final advice on this is you don’t use your resources and spread too thinly. If you haven’t got a chance of getting the job and you’re a sensitive person, don’t apply, don’t go to the interview. If you’re a mentally tough person, you can live with rejection. The chances of you getting it are really, really small but you give it a go and you learn from it. Other people, it just wears them away.

So I often hear stories in the press of people applying for 200 jobs, but the downside is you’re going to get rejected far more than you’re going to get accepted. So, be a bit more targeted, go in and I advise my students quite often that sometimes you want a practice interview. You maybe haven’t got a good chance at a Blue Chip company, but see what the rules are and how it works. And that’s the terms you go into, but don’t waste resources on a speculative shot. If you want to go for it, go for it. If you sense that and there’s a sense of mourning and disappointment, just then get back going.

10. We’re on to our last question now and this is one that we ask all our podcast guests. If you had one piece of advice to help our listeners navigate their careers throughout the pandemic and beyond, what would that be?

(34:37) Doug: Peter knows what I’m going to say! I’m going to leap in first because I’m pinching it. It’s self-awareness. This is an important quality. It’s part of all of us and it affects virtually everything we do. But we’ve got very low levels of self-awareness about our own mental toughness and the implications of our mental toughness and mental sensitivity for the way we engage with the world around us.

First, the most fundamental thing that we can do is create at least some level of self-awareness. What is it that I am bringing to a situation? What is it about me that might hinder my progress in a situation? And that then becomes a starting point for a lot of things. Now, for development, for the way you’re going to present yourself to other people. But if you don’t know who you are to start with, you’re struggling.

(35:33) Peter: When it comes to careers, take a long-term view. I mean, as you get older, you look back and you think that the short-term disappointments can sometimes dominate people. I wanted to be, firstly, a rock star! I was in a fine band but that didn’t quite work out. I wanted to play a professional sport, yet I became a psychology Professor. So it’s not glib about “one door closes, another opens”. But when you look back on your career, when you’ve got some mileage there, you’ see how it works. There’s always another way forward. So, you might want to try it but when people put a hundred percent into and that’s their only option, that becomes problematic. Another of our colleagues at Lincoln University looked at football apprentices and 99.9% of them get dropped. The ones who’ve been gone to prosper and have interesting careers and do interesting things are the ones who always have a plan B, a plan C, and it took some time to re-evaluate.

So you’ve got to give yourself other options as well. Take some time to recover, go a hundred percent for it, but then think, “what do I do now?”. Because nearly all of us end up in places we didn’t expect to be. It’s kind of the same with the mental toughness research, same with my career, same with Doug’s career. Yeah, it’s great to be talking to everybody and we really enjoy this sort of stuff, but thirty years ago, we wouldn’t have thought we’d be doing this. So, it happens. It’s called not catastrophizing. Yes, I had one terrible where the women fell off her chair! Ok, you’re not going to get the job, but it’s not the end of your career, other things happen. So, take a longer view, have longer goals. With short-term disappointments, as Doug said, you have to deal with them.

Doug Strycharczyk, Peter Clough and John Perry are co-authors of ‘Developing Mental Toughness: Strategies to Improve Performance, Resilience and Wellbeing in Individuals and Organizations’, which is available in hardback, paperback or as an ebook here. Use code HAYS20 for a 20% discount.

About this author

Doug Strycharczyk is the CEO of AQR International, which he founded in 1989 – now recognized as one of the most innovative global providers of resources and services for individual and organizational development. Doug has pioneered the application of the mental toughness concept to every sector where individuals face challenge or stressors. Together with Peter Clough and John Perry, he has been instrumental in developing the latest evolution of the mental toughness concept and the MTQPlus measure.

Peter Clough is co-developer, with Keith Earle, of the original 4 Cs mental toughness model. Peter has researched and demonstrated the application of mental toughness in a wide variety of settings. He is now regarded as one of the leading global authorities on mental toughness and related areas. He has been Head of Psychology and Hull, Huddersfield and Manchester Metropolitan Universities.

John Perry is Senior Lecturer in Sports and exercise Science at the University of Limerick, Ireland. John is a chartered psychologist and an accredited sport and exercise scientist. John has been, for several years, a key member of the core team for the development of the mental toughness concept and the MTQ suite of measures. He has a special talent for psychometrics.

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