Mental Toughness

by Doug Strycharczyk

Introduction

A good deal of the debate on stress has focused on the working environment and its impact on employees. This is an important area for attention, but it is also true that it is possible to place two individuals into the same working environment and observe that one succumbs to the pressures in the workplace, while the other thrives in the same conditions!

Similarly, we have all worked with bright, knowledgeable individuals who will impress at one level, but will be identified as underperformers, failing to live up to their potential. Others – with lesser innate ability – seem to prosper and achieve well beyond what their managers expect from them.

The difference between the two types can often be explained through the concept of Mental Toughness. This explains how individuals develop resilience and an inner drive to succeed.

This, in turn, means that stress management can be seen as an integral component of effective peak performance development. In reality, they are two sides of the same coin.

Key questions for most organisations, therefore, are these:

  • What causes one person to succumb and another to thrive?
  • Can we identify people’s strengths and weaknesses in these areas?
  • Can we ‘toughen up’ individuals, enabling them to handle stressful situations better?
  • How can we support individuals better with their specific needs?

Fortunately, as you will discover in the pages of this topic, we can now identify the strengths and weaknesses that cause people to succumb or thrive under stress and can suggest ways in which individuals can improve their overall Mental Toughness.

Study after study now shows that there is a close and direct relationship between Mental Toughness and

  • Performance (individual and organisational)
  • Behaviour and
  • Well-being.