What is Mental Toughness?

When you think of words that describe Mental toughness many people of grit, resilience and being mentally strong and they’re right, well, up to a point. Mental toughness is actually about being able to handle life’s difficulties and challenges. It’s about staying on track, not being derailed by them and taking positive steps forward.

Mentally tough people have a better chance of achieving their goals than mentally sensitive people. They are more likely to rise to the challenge in the face of pressures. They aim to do the best they can, they are better able to control the controllables and put in place processes to help them succeed.

Mental Toughness is not?

  • About bravado
  • Being macho
  • Putting on an act or a game face

It is also not about being tough or weak, let’s face it, everyone faces ups and downs in life. It is about being comfortable with yourself so that you can go onto deal with whatever situations life throws at you and so that you can develop positive relationships with other people.

The great news for business leaders, athletes, coaches and teams, mental toughness is not fixed. It not a case of you’ve got it or you haven’t. It is a plastic personality trait, which can be developed over time by experience and expert guidance.


Improving your awareness of the elements of your own mental toughness so that you can go on to make better decisions in different situations is vital. When I conduct mental toughness MOT’s or take business leaders and athletes through mental toughness improvement programmes we look at the big picture. Using the MTQ48 psychometric scale to track scores and as guidance to open up fascinating conversations.  Simple practical developmental ideas are shared for the different aspects of mental toughness:

Commitment – to what extent you “make promises” and the extent to which you will keep those promises.

Control – to what extent you believe you shape what happens to you and how you manage your emotions when doing it.

Challenge – to what extent you see challenges, change, adversity and variety as opportunities or as threats.

Confidence – to what extent you believe that you have the ability to deal with what will face you and the inner strength to stand your ground when needed.

If you’d like to learn more about mental toughness and the impact it has on your performance or well-being please feel free to get in touch. Please note much of the content in this article has been taken from Dr Peter Clough’s mental toughness model.

David Charlton, Performance Enhancement Specialist

Email: [email protected]

Tel: +44 (0) 7734 697769