Mental Toughness describes the mindset that every person adopts in everything they do. It is closely related to qualities such as character, resilience, grit, etc. It is defined as: “A personality trait which determines, in large part, how people respond to challenge, stress and pressure, irrespective of their circumstances”. Most personality models and measures assess the behavioural aspects of Personality (how we act).
Mental Toughness differs in that it assesses something more fundamental – “how we think”. In other words, why we act and respond emotionally to events. It enables us to understand mindset in a very practical way. Research carried out under the direction of Professor Peter Clough of Huddersfield University identified by 2002 the four key components (constructs) of Mental Toughness. These are called the 4Cs. In 2017, work by Doug Strycharczyk, Dr John Perry and Professor Clough, allowed the concept to be expanded to eight factors to be understood and assessed around the 4Cs. This is shown below:
Mental Toughness Scale What does MTQ assess… the 8 Factors
Life Control – I really believe in myself, I can do it
Emotional Control – I can manage my emotions and the emotions of others
Goal Orientation – I set goals and like the idea of working toward goals
Achievement Orientation – I do what it takes to keep promises and achieve goals
Risk Orientation – I stretch myself, welcoming new and different experiences
Learning Orientation – I learn from what happens, including setbacks
In Abilities – I believe I have the ability to do it, or can acquire the ability
Interpersonal Confidence – I can influence others
Why is Mental Toughness important?
Published research and case studies from around the world show that Mental Toughness is a major factor in: • Performance – explaining up to 25% of the variation in performance in individuals
• Agility - Positive Behaviour – more engaged, more positive, more “can do”, dealing well with change
• Wellbeing – more contentment, better stress management, less prone to bullying
• Aspirations - more ambitious, prepared to manage more risk It is a major factor in retention, particularly in higher education, employability and is a key aspect of an organisation’s culture.
It has applications in virtually every sector. In the world of work, it is key for leadership and staff development, particularly within change programmes as well as in talent management programmes. It is also widely used for developing young people in education, in youth work and social mobility programmes.
Can we develop Mental Toughness?
We can. We can either help someone change their mental toughness or we can show someone how to adopt the behaviours that a mentally tough person would adopt. Either way, many of the benefits of developing mental toughness can be achieved.
MTQ48 is a really valuable tool. It certainly makes you think about your performance and positive behaviour – and what you can do about both. We liked the report structure which equipped the manager/coach and the individual with relevant information and practical development suggestions. -Liz Chandler Director for Corporate Development, Merseytravel