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a blog by Chris Barrow

Mentally tough or not?

I am sure words like grit, determination, hunger, drive, fire and spirit have been used by many of us over the last few weeks to describe the performances of the world’s top Olympic and Paralympic athletes. It seems that athletes, coaches and spectators alike recognise the importance and perhaps appearance of these qualities in the world’s top athletes. Sport coaches have long appreciated how these qualities combine to produce a ‘mental toughness’. This mental toughness is tricky to define. Some would look towards those individual’s who have the biggest personalities, who shout the loudest or bang their fists the hardest in an attempt to overpower or intimidate others. Others would provide examples of individuals who portray these same behaviors, but crumble in the face of adversity, implode during critical times or perhaps are simply unable to think clearly under increasing pressure. No matter what the behaviour characteristics, across both sporting and business domains, in pressured situations, individuals who don’t have this mental toughness tend to react by throwing their ‘game plan’ out of the window. So if mental toughness is the ability to stick to the game plan, no matter what… (of course the game plan is flexible and adaptable – but should never been forgotten at the first sign of strife) … what key qualities are necessary for an individual to be able to stick to their game plan? 1. Resilience – do they thrive in difficult conditions and can they ‘bounce-back’ from adversity? 2. Tenacity – do they just keep going? Pushing themselves each and every day? 3. Composure – do they have the ability to make sound decisions and execute skills to a very high standard, whilst under pressure? Success in any form requires a significant degree of mental toughness. So think for a second how you or your team respond in challenging situations… to criticism… to mistakes… to poor results. Do they come back stronger? Or do they hide? Do they take responsibility? Or look to blame others? Do they take the best option? Or do they take easy one? In difficult situations do you and your team panic and throw the game plan out of the window or consistently perform at your best? Thankfully, mental toughness is a skill and can be developed and learned. More and more business owners and managers are fostering mental strength and toughness in themselves and their team with great results.

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