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.
Mental Toughness is important and valuable for everyone at two levels.
Firstly, it explains why people behave the way they do. Personality can be defined as an individual’s characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting – personality can explain individual differences and how individuals act in to specific events.
The output from many personality measures and psychometric instruments is designed to examine specific psychiatric behaviour i.e. the acting dimension. That is perfectly reasonable and there is little doubt that this is a good and valuable purpose for these measures. But it is different from MTQ assessments in important ways.
Mental Toughness is a personality trait which describes mindset. It examines what is in the mind of the individual to explain why they behave the way they do. So there is an obvious link between mindset and behaviour – this is especially important for young people in understanding who they are and how they can realise their potential in the way they behave.
You could describe mindset as both the pre-cursor to behaviour and the explanation for much behaviour.
Secondly, research and case studies from education and the third sector show that Mental Toughness is a major factor in most of the important outcomes for individuals:
Performance – explaining up to 25% of the variation in performance in individuals. MT people deliver more, work more purposefully, show greater commitment to purpose and are more competitive. This translates into better academic or social action achievement, personal development, and better attendance.
Wellbeing – more contented. MT people show better stress management, willingness to participate, better attendance, are less likely to develop mental health issues, sleep better and are less prone to bullying. They can take stressors in their stride.
Positive Behaviour – more engaged. MT people are more positive, more “can do”, respond positively to change and adversity, show better attendance, contribute to a positive culture and a stronger focus on the opportnuities in the world of employment.
Openness to Learning – more aspirational. MT people are more ambitious, prepared to manage more risk – seeing opportunity for learning everywhere and understanding the
need for a transferable skillset in preparedness for the world of employment and manage transition better – crucially important in the 21st century. These translate into real and tangible benefits for organisations and individuals.
Crucially all can be developed through targeted coaching, training and development.
AQR and Mental Toughness Partners have a wealth of experience in this area and have developed mental toughness development programs specific to the education sector.
Benefits of Developing Mental Toughness in Students
One of the greatest challenges facing society today is that of developing young people who are the future generators of wealth so that they can play a full and productive part in the economic and social development of the world they inhabit. This need is particularly acute in the West where the old order is fast disappearing.
The purpose of education and youth work is not only to ensure that young people are skilled and qualified. It must also prepare young people with attributes and qualities that enable them to apply what they learn in a challenging, changing and often stressful world.
A number of initiatives have recently emerged which all have the same goal – to prepare young people for life in a world that demands resilience, confidence, grit, tenacity and commitment in addition to vocational and academic skills. Possible the most important of these is Mental Toughness which, arguably, embraces most, if not all, of the other initiatives in producing the most comprehensive and enduring approach.
There are many issues from the perspective of students. Developing Mental Toughness in young people and students will assist them with:
Transition – both on entry to secondary school from junior school and preparation for life after school (work or further education). Settling into a new school quickly and effectively is a major determinant of success for a long time.
Performance – mainly exam performance but it can embrace doing good quality course work, assignments and even achieving in non-core activities such as sports. It can be focused broadly on year groups or on specific groups – e.g. economically or socially disadvantaged, poor attenders and even “gifted and talented” who find school boring.
Well-Being – simply being contented, enjoying school life, dealing effectively with bullying behaviour.
Positive Behaviour– volunteering, engaging with core and non-core activities, attendance, engagement with student life, developing peer relationships (friends) classroom behaviour.
Employability – preparation of mindset for finding a job or continuing onto further study or vocational training centres.
In Further and Higher Education we also see:
Retention – reducing drop out from programmes and courses
- Mental Toughness Package for Young People
- Mental Toughness Coaching Package for Young People
- UCanPass Program for Schools and Educational Bodies