When the phrase ‘mental toughness’ comes up, many people mistakenly imagine a person lacking in feelings or emotions, but that impression couldn’t be further from the truth. Research shows that people who are mentally tough enjoy greater wellbeing and feel more comfortable in their own skins. Furthermore, mentally tough individuals consistently demonstrate more positive behaviors and generally achieve more than mentally sensitive individuals, striving to be the best they can be.
This provides significant results for individuals in almost everything they do. In their book Developing Mental Toughness, Doug Strycharczyk and Peter Clough suggest it does include achieving more but also involves completing tasks, managing change and transition better, employability, contentment, building more effective relationships, and influencing others. Mentally tough individuals will typically work harder and more effectively than others and they gain satisfaction while doing it
This is a compelling argument for enhancing your levels of mental toughness. So, how do you know whether you are mentally tough or not? Here are 15 signs:
- You feel you shape what happens.
You understand that success is down to you and your attitude towards what you want to achieve.
- You understand other people’s emotions and know how to manage them.
When you’re working with others, you can discern between different feelings, label them appropriately and use that information to guide your thinking and behavior.
- You are difficult to provoke or annoy.
You have a strong sense of emotional control and can choose how much of your emotional state you want to reveal to others.
- You use positive language and expressions.
You understand that if your emotional state is negative, it will impact negatively on others around you. You know that by lifting the mood of others, it will lift your mood in turn.
- You see the solution, rather than the problem.
You view challenges as opportunities and may even welcome them or find them exciting. You’re likely to feel this is an opportunity to demonstrate that you can deal with the unknown.
- You like competition.
You have a desire or a need to win. This can help drive you towards success but it can also be a disruptive influence when working with other people.
- You enjoy learning.
You are motivated by achievement and constantly seek improvements and ways of doing things better.
- You like goals and measures as they describe what success looks like.
Providing the goal is reasonable and achievable, you will do what it takes to achieve it. You set high standards for yourself and others.
- You have a sense of purpose and often think ‘win-win’.
You know what you want to achieve. Once you have that drive, you make a promise to yourself and others to achieve your goal and you keep that promise.
- You like ownership, acceptance, and responsibility.
You are judged by others for your reliability. They know they can trust you to ‘get it done’.
- You don’t look for or need external validation.
You are not dependent upon others for praise, encouragement, or support. Your inner belief is enough.
- You’re happy to ask questions.
You are confident in your abilities so would never feel stupid asking questions. Asking questions helps increase your competence.
- You see critical feedback as feedback. No more and no less.
You don’t feel restricted by internal limiting beliefs. Any critical feedback can be used for learning towards achieving excellence.
- You will stand your ground.
You are not easily intimidated and have the confidence to face criticism. You easily engage in group activities.
- You are happy to ask for help and support.
You don’t see asking for help as a shortcoming. You see it as necessary to get the job done in the best way possible.
Our performance varies from moment to moment. There are times when we are extremely productive and others when we can be astonishingly unsuccessful. Reaching peak performance generally requires us to respond positively to challenges, achieve significant goals, and manage some sort of adversity or difficulty that would discourage many others. Our level of mental toughness can determine how we perform under pressure so developing mental toughness plays a key role in achieving peak performance.
It has been suggested that our mindset can account for at least 50 per cent of the variation in our performance but, on average we only spend around 5 per cent of our time enhancing performance through mental training. Looking at some of the signs of mental toughness listed above, where can you improve and how much time are you willing to dedicate to train yourself to be mentally tough and achieve your peak performance?