Mental Toughness?

What is Mental Toughness?

“Mental Toughness is a quality which determines, in some part, how effectively individuals perform when exposed to stressors, pressure and challenge …. irrespective of the prevailing situation”

There is a very strong link between Mental Toughness and issues like Stress Management and Peak Performance Development and Behaviour. These are all interrelated.

  • Why is it some people handle stressors, pressure and challenge well and others don’t?
  • Can we measure where people have strengths and weaknesses in these matters?
  • Can we do something to improve “mental toughness” in people to improve their performance?
  • Can we evaluate the effectiveness of interventions which are all claimed to be effective?

More than 8 years of careful and innovative research enabled Dr Peter Clough to emerge with a tool that allowed these questions, and others, to be answered positively and effectively.

Four key components of Mental Toughness:

  • Control – extent to which you feel in control of your life and emotions
  • Challenge – Identifies the extent to which people see challenges, variety, problems & changes as opportunities – or see these as threats
  • Commitment – the extent to which someone makes promises and commits to deliver what has been promised
  • Confidence – Identifies the extent to which people have self belief in their abilities and the confidence to deal with setbacks and oral challenge

Initially, the concept and the measure was applied mainly in the occupational world – looking at developing employees and managers to perform effectively, especially in challenging environments (e.g. emergency services,) and in adverse circumstances, (e.g. the 2008/9 economic downturn). These are obvious applications for mental toughness and MTQ48.

We now see Mental Toughness and MTQ48 used in a much wider range of applications. Mental Toughness is a concept with a universal application. We now find major applications in Education, Health, Social Work, Sports & Care as well as in occupational settings. As of 2010, the model and measure is in use in more than 40 countries around the globe.

MTQ48

Applications in the World of Work

The world of work is a major source of stress pressure and change for most people. Mental Toughness has an important role to play in an individual’s:

  • Performance – explains up to 25% of the variation in performance
  • Behaviours – more engaged, more positive, “can do” attitude
  • Wellbeing – more contentment, better stress management

By understanding and applying the principles of Mental Toughness in the workplace, organisations can develop strategies and tactics to help individuals perform under pressure and help managers get the best from their people. There are several areas where the model adds considerable value:

Recruitment & Selection, Successional Planning – MTQ provides practical descriptions of key competencies which can allow for more effectively around these key criteria.

Employee Development & Programmes – MTQ is invaluable in assessing an individual’s mindset, approach and attitude and general ‘readiness to learn’. There is an established link between Mental Toughness and completion or dropout rates which can help an organisation reduce waste in this area.

Leadership and Management, Soft Skills Training – incorporating elements of mental toughness interventions into programmes such as presentation skills, time management or Leadership and Management programmes (any subject area where an individual’s mental toughness is relevant to their approach) enhances the content significantly. The Institute of Leadership and Management have endorsed the MTQ48 measure and incorporated a mental toughness development module into their Leadership and Management programme content.

Teamworking – Mental toughness can have a big impact on how teamworking and team building are developed. There are two elements to this: organisational development and culture and developing high performance team working behaviour within the team.

Coaching – there is growing evidence to support that the correlation between coaching and the elements that constitute mental toughness: Feeling in control (professionally & personally); managing emotional responses; coping with significant change; maintaining commitment; enhancing self-confidence. Reports generated by MTQ48 are an ideal basis for coaching conversations.

MTQ Education (11+)

Applications of Mental Toughness in Secondary Education (11+)

Understanding and applying the principles of Mental Toughness with young people at any stage of their education can have a positive impact on a whole variety of factors in their lives:

Academic/exam performance – studies consistently show that around 25% of the variation in a person’s performance in exams can explained by their mental toughness.  Improving mental toughness can lead to better ability scores (verbal, non-verbal & quantitative). This is because the more mentally tough, the more likely a pupil is to do well in exams and the more likely they are absorb learning (before they are more confident and more  in control)

Positive Behaviours – The higher the level of MENTAL TOUGHNESS the more the individual demonstrates positive behaviours. They will adopt a “can do” attitude and there is clear evidence that the higher the level of mental toughness the more likely the student will engage in the class and the school (asking questions, engaging in discussion, etc).

(Anti-) Social Behaviour – Conversely studies with young offenders show that the lower the level of MENTAL TOUGHNESS the more likely the individual will adopt anti-social behaviours. The likely explanation is that these individuals are less able to deal with life’s stressors, pressures and challenges and either respond poorly to those pressures or are more easily influenced by peers.

Transition – The more mentally tough a student the more able they are to manage transition effectively (Junior to Secondary and Secondary to Further and Higher Education) and perform better (in exams) after the transition.

Wellbeing – The higher the level of mental toughness the more the individual is able to deal with the pressures, stressors and challenges of everyday life. This translates into outcomes such as better attendance, less stress and significantly lower reported bullying.

Aspirations – Studies show that the higher the level of mental toughness the greater the level of aspirations of the individual. This is particularly significant in areas of social and economic deprivation where “worklessness” can develop.

Completion/Drop-Out rates –  There is a strong link between mental toughness and the extent to which a student will stick with a programme of study or work and will see it through to a conclusion.

Employability – There is a clear relationship between an individual’s mental toughness and their ability both to get a job and to get the job they want. Individuals who have a higher mental toughness are more competitive.

Developing Life Skills – psychological or emotional resilience and mental toughness is a very important life skill. Development of these particular skills are useful for just about everything else that person is going to have to do in life

MTQ in Further and Higher Education

Mental Toughness In Further & Higher Education

Mental Toughness (as measured by the mental toughness questionnaire MTQ48) has emerged as a significant factor in the development of young people.

Over the past three years research and case studies has emerged which shows that mental toughness is strongly correlated with:

  • Performance/Attainment – clear link between mental toughness and young people’s performance in exams, tests and overall educational attainment
  • Behaviour – Improvements to a student’s mental toughness translates to better attendance and to positive and active participation in classes.
  • Retention/Drop-out rates – Mental toughness is very accurate at predicting which students are most at risk of underperforming, dropping out or failing to complete their course of study.
  • Employability – Higher levels of mental toughness are associated with improved employability and a person’s ability to get a job and: perhaps more importantly, a job that they want..
  • Transition/Productivity –the more mentally tough graduate is able to make the transition from education into the workplace more effectively. Once there they are more likely to tell their employer about their capability, skills and knowledge abilities thereby enabling this to be harnessed more readily by the employer.

Students can be:

  • Better prepared for what life ‘throws at them’
  • Cope with difficulties and Challenges
  • Be more resilient Be better organised and able to plan their life better
  • Adopt positive thinking
  • Bounce back from set backs
MTQ Sports

Mental Toughness in Sports

The sports world provided one of the two main origins for the development of mental toughness and in many ways mental toughness and how it can impact is reasonably well understood by most coaches and trainers, the key areas are:

  • Performance – especially in competition and training work effectively and to a high standard
  • Positive Behaviour – developing a “can do” approach. If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you won’t.
  • Wellbeing – feeling satisfied and motivated even when the going has been tough and there have been setbacks
  • Aspirations – being more ambitious.

We  have developed a version of the Mental Toughness Questionnaire specifically for the Sports sector using language applicable in the sporting world. The measure enables coaches, trainers and athletes to make better assessments and identify why they do or don’t perform under the pressure of completion when they know they can perform well away from that pressure.

Mental toughness can also explain why some athletes are better suited to contact sports and why some perform belter in team sports than in solitary sports.Or why an athlete of lesser ability can often beat (and often will beat) an athlete of greater ability. Described as winning mentality, mind-set, learned optimism, etc, these all describe the same or similar notions. Winner in in their mind. That’s also where losers lose too.

This programme, which has its own accompanying workbook, aids sportspeople at all levels and includes interventions quotes and analogies relevant to the sporting world.

MTQ48 Social & Health

As Mental Toughness become better understood as a personality trait which applies where personality is a factor in behaviour and performance, so the range of applications widens.

Social Applications

Applications range from working with people who live in or work in areas of social and/or economic deprivation through to developing skills valuable to society in general such as caring and parenting skills.
Deprivation often provides an environment where wellbeing, aspirations and positive behaviour can be adversely affected. The mental toughness model provides an opportunity for workers in these areas to understand better how their clients are responding to the environment and to direct their interventions more appropriately and more effectively.

Specific applications include:

  • Worklessness building aspiration and confidence where there is little tradition of any work ethic.
  • Aspiration working with people of all ages to believe that they can achieve. This is particularly important in education where lack of aspiration can prevent individuals from going onto FE and HE.
  • Offenders & Young Offenders The evidence shows a link with offending and mental sensitivity (the opposite of mental toughness). Applications include early intervention with young offenders through to working with prisoners prior to release to reduce the risk of re-offending.
  • Employability (particularly long term unemployed and NEETS) developing the confidence, commitment and sense of control to find a way back into the job market.
  • Restorative Practice working with perpetrators of crime and their victims to deal with the impact of the crime and emerge stronger.

Wider social applications include:

  • Parenting skills – developing the behaviours and mind-set to understand the family and to be more effective in developing those in their care
  • Carers – a widely under-recognised group. Carers  carry a great deal of responsibility often with little real support. The carers role is high in stressors, challenge and pressure.
  • Community Cohesion – enabling members of communities to participate more effectively in community activities and to enable building community cohesion. Include supporting individuals to become involved in representative activity in communities .

Health Applications

An emerging area of application. There are two main strands:

  • Mental Health and Addiction – On-going research is examining the relationship between mental toughness and mental health conditions such as ADHD and eating disorders. Addiction is also an area where mental toughness can bring fresh insight and much more effective interventions. Pilots are underway to examine the relationship between an individual’s mental toughness and their capability to give up smoking.
  • General Health – Diet and Fitness On-going work suggest that, statistically, the greater the level of mental toughness the more likely an individual is to maintain fitness and good fitness regimes and will eat carefully and better. Wither or both will correlate with factors like (avoidance of) obesity.
Licensed User Training

MTQ48 Licensed User Training

This programme is designed to enable trainers, coaches and managers to understand the model of mental toughness, how to measure it, and how to use the model and the measure in their work. Attendance is a requirement before purchasing and using MTQ48.

The programme includes a comprehensive workbook which as well as providing useful reference material contains exercises and guidance on use of the measure, feedback and potential interventions. All participants will complete MTQ48 as part of the preparation for the programme.

Outline Content:

Introduction to Mental Toughness

  • Origins
  • The 4 C’s Model – understanding the scales
  • Implications for the workplace and elsewhere

Introduction to Psychometrics

  • Normal Distribution and sten scores
  • Validity and Reliability
  • Good practice for using psychometrics

Measuring Mental Toughness

  • Using the MTQ48
  • Generating and using MTQ48 reports
  • Meter Management

Handling Feedback

  • Good practice to providing feedback
  • Introduction to interventions used for Mental Toughness Development

Applications

  • Employee development
  • Organisational development
  • Education, sports, health, social work etc
  • Creating unique training programmes

Its Relationship with Other Concepts

  • Resilience
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Positive psychology – happiness

The Philosophy of Mental Toughness

  • Is it important for everyone?

One Day Version – For those who have a basic understanding of psychometrics and have used a reputable measure in the past and have evidenced training in handling feedback and/or a coaching or training qualification at Level 5 or above.

Two Day Version – Expanded version for those who need opportunity for practice at interpretation of reports and in handling feedback.

Open programmes are held at our office monthly and at venues around the country – please contact us or check Events page for latest dates.

For Larger groups in-house programmes can be arranged – please contact us for details

Mental Toughness Development

Mental Toughness Development Programmes

The programme is designed to enable participants to develop strategies and plans to help them perform under pressure, and to support others around them. This leads to better performance, wellbeing and, in many instances, an improved work life balance. They will learn to approach challenge, stress & pressure with a positive ‘can do’ attitude.

The programme comes with a comprehensive workbook which enables participants to personalise the programme as well as providing information about tools and techniques.

Outline Content:

Understanding Stress Pressure and Challenge

  • Sources of stress pressure and challenge
  • Their impact – good and bad
  • Identifying the main issue for you

Understanding how People respond to stress, pressure and challenge

  • The key factors – Personality and Mental Toughness, etc
  • What is mental toughness?
  • What is your mental toughness?
  • Identifying your development needs – the priorities and the benefits of so doing

Developing Mental Toughness – simple accessible tools and techniques around these core themes

  • Positive Thinking
  • Visualisation
  • Attentional Control
  • Anxiety Control
  • Practical Goal setting
  • Biofeedback

Developing Mental Toughness – complementary tools and techniques

  • Fatigue – State & Trait – leading edge work on impact of stress
  • Procrastination & Time Management
  • Team Toughness
  • Action Planning

Milestones – short term and longer term strategies

  • Targeting for success
  • Importance of discipline
  • Review and reward

The programme has been developed as a 2 day programme, but may be delivered as a condensed version over one day. It can also be extended with one to one coaching. There is also a train the trainer version for coaches trainers and facilitators which is designed to enable participants to effectively deliver the workshop.

The programme is usually run is an in-house course to enable the content to be adapted to what is required specifically for the client. However we do run generic open versions (particularly the trainer the trainer version) so please check our Events page

UCANPASS

UCANPASS

Mental Toughness has emerged as a highly significant factor in the development of young people.  Recent research shows that mental toughness is strongly correlated with Performance, Wellbeing, Positive Engaged Behaviours, Aspirations and Employability. This workshop is based on our Mental Toughness Development Programme with an emphasis on delivery of better exam results and school performance.

The programme comes with a comprehensive workbook which enables students to personalise the programme as well as providing information about tools and techniques.

This is an intensive highly practical programme which includes:

What are the challenges I face and what is my response to them?

  • Examinations – getting the results I want
  • Coursework – delivering high quality work on time and to a great standard
  • Study & revision – making the best use of my time
  • The rest of my life – managing my family, friends, social life etc

What is mental toughness and why is it important to me?

  • Commitment and Control – the essence of resilience
  • Challenge and Confidence – dealing positively with challenge, change and setbacks
  • Why these relevant to exams, coursework, study and providing balance in my life.

Assessing my mental toughness and what this says about my attitude and my mind set

  • Understanding my mental toughness and what it means
  • Identifying where I can develop and improve – and see the benefits

Developing mental toughness

  • Anxiety Control – techniques to deal with anxiety and worry
  • Positive thinking – approaches which develop a positive mind set – “can do”
  • Attentional control – techniques to focus better and for longer
  • Visualisation – learning to visualise success and how it can be delivered
  • Goal setting – how to deal with big goals and set milestones.

Applying mental toughness to the key challenges in your world – Action Planning & Review

  • Action Planning – Developing checklists of action and activities
  • Diet, Fitness and Friends

The programme is designed to run in a one day format.

A Train the Trainer version for teachers and trainers is also available.

UCANWIN

UCANWIN

The programme is designed for coaches, trainers and sportspeople and enables participants to develop strategies and plans to help them to understand how to perform better under pressure and address the following:

  • Competition– how to thrive with the pressure of competition
  • Training and Developing Skills – how to become even more positive and engaged in your training and learning.
  • Enjoyment – how to enjoy the challenges of your sport and get the most out of it
  • Outside – dealing with other factors, such as friends, family, peer pressure or other things which may affect you for better or worse

The programme comes with a comprehensive workbook which enables participants to personalise the programme as well as providing information about tools and techniques.

This is an intensive highly practical programme which includes:

What are the challenges I face and what is my response to them

  • Learning how to thrive with the pressure of competition
  • How to become even more positive and engaged in your training and learning.
  • How do you enjoy the challenges of your sport and get the most out of it
  • Dealing with other factors, such as friends, family, peer pressure or other things which may affect you for better or worse.

What is mental toughness and why is it important to me

  • Commitment and Control – the essence of resilience
  • Challenge and Confidence – dealing positively with challenge, change and setbacks
  • Why these are relevant to competition, training and developing my skills, enjoying what I do and providing balance in my life.

Assessing my mental toughness and what this says about my attitude and my mind set

  • Understanding my mental toughness and what it means
  • Identifying where I can develop and improve – and see the benefits.

Developing mental toughness

  • Anxiety Control – techniques to deal with anxiety and worry
  • Positive thinking – approaches which develop a positive mind set – “can do”
  • Attentional control – techniques to focus better and for longer
  • Visualisation – learning to visualise success and how it can be delivered
  • Goal setting – how to deal with big goals and set milestones.

Applying mental toughness to the key challenges in your world – Action Planning & Review.

  • Action Planning – Developing checklists of action and activities

The programme has been developed as a 1 day programme, but can be extended with one to one coaching.

There is also a train the trainer version for coaches and trainers which is designed to enable participants to effectively deliver the workshop and interventions to others.