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Does Mental Toughness mean that we have to be macho and uncaring?

May 17, 20244 min read

Does Mental Toughness mean that we have to be macho and uncaring?


Studies show that males and females show similar patterns of Mental Toughness and research has found close relationships between higher levels of Mental Toughness and higher levels of emotional intelligence.

To look at a few definitions of Mental toughness, it has been described:

..."as a personality trait which determines, in large part, how people respond to challenge, stress and pressure, irrespective of their circumstances." – Clough & Stycharczyk

“The ability to consistently perform towards the upper range of your capabilities, regardless of competitive circumstances.” - Jim Loehr, EdD

The opposite of Mental Toughness is Mental Sensitivity. Research shows that the Mentally Tough generally benefit from that advantage, they tend to:

  • enjoy better well-being

  • be more optimistic

  • achieve more

  • they even earn more money

The Mentally Sensitive, on the other hand, find the road through life and work more challenging, and they tend to feel every bump in the road and the consequences that those bring. Nevertheless, there are many people that are Mentally Sensitive who are successful and achieve great things.

The key is to find the right balance of Mental Toughness and Sensitivity, depending on a person's role and their situation and become SELF-AWARE, so that they can utilize their cluster of qualities correctly. To do this, one need to be self-aware about who they are and why they think about things in a particular way.

Self-awareness, reflection and focused development are important for all, the Mentally Tough and the Mentally Sensitive.

So, how do we become more Mentally tough? The first step is the understand the 4 Cs of Mental Toughness.

What are the 4 Cs of Mental Toughness?

  1. Challenge-Describes how individuals react mentally to dealing with challenges, opportunities, new experiences and unforeseen events.  This also describes the extent an individual will push their boundaries, embrace change and accept risk, as well as how they see all outcomes, do they interpret them as good or bad, and how open they are to taking feedback and learning lessons from previous failures and successes.

  2. Control-Describes the extent to which a person feels they are in control of their life. Some individuals believe that they can exert considerable influence over their working environment, that they can make a difference and change things. In contrast, others feel that the outcome of events is outside their personal control and they are unable to exert any influence over themselves or others. Describes having a sense of self-worth and describes the extent that a person can control the display of their emotions (an aspect of emotional IQ).

  3. Commitment-This measures the extent to which an individual is likely to persist with a goal or work task. Individuals differ in the degree with which they remain focused on their goals. Some may be easily distracted, bored or divert their attention to competing goals, whereas, others may be more likely to persist.

  4. Confidence- Describes the self-belief that a person has in their own abilities and the interpersonal confidence they possess to influence others and deal with conflict and challenging situations. Individuals high in confidence have the self-belief to successfully complete tasks that may be considered too difficult by individuals with similar abilities but lower confidence.

What’s the research finding?

Better Performance in school and work

Mentally Tough individuals perform more effectively in quality of work and the volume that they can complete. Several studies are supporting the findings that up to 25% of the variation in a young individual’s test performance can be explained by their mental toughness levels.

Exhibit more Positive Behaviors

Mentally Tough individuals adopt a “can do” attitude and engage in activities such as asking questions, engaging in discussion, and volunteering to do what is necessary to move project forward. They welcome change and see the positives where the Mentally Sensitive see the negatives and they are more likely to accept responsibility. 


Mentally Tough individuals enjoy:

·      Improved attendance/reduced absenteeism

·      Reductions in reported bullying

·      Sleeping better

·      Being able to put setbacks into perspective and recover more quickly

·      Dealing with adversity and difficult days


Mental Toughness is positively correlated with higher career aspirations in general.


There is a clear relationship between an individual’s MT and their ability to both get a job and to get the job they want.

FIND OUT HOW MENTALLY TOUGH YOU ARE- If you are interested in testing your Mental Toughness levels or getting someone you know tested, please connect and schedule a call with Shannon at the below link.

With a great mindset, comes great results!

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Shannon Peck

Shannon Peck has over 15 years of experience in the fields of psychology and executive coaching, she brings a unique approach to acquiring Mindset techniques in a fun and positive atmosphere that combines evidence-based practices with an athlete centered approach. She holds a Master's degree in Psychology and is a certified Sport Psychology Coach with experience coaching Athletes, Coaches Parents, and Youth Sport Leaders in building great sports' cultures. She was an accomplished competitive skater in her youth and has coached competitive skaters for over 25 years. She toured as a principal skater with Ice Capades, Disney on Ice, Sea World Rhythms on Ice, Holiday on Ice and American Super Dream in Japan.

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"I used to get really frustrated with myself on bad skating days, especially when I came into the rink already upset or sad. I would often leave more frustrated than when I came in. Coach Shannon taught us about our emotional tank and how our state of mind can impact our performance, which has made a huge impact on my improvement. When I became aware of my emotional tank, I was able to adjust my expectations and what I was practicing that day, which allowed me to make progress on the harder days. In general, it helped me have a better attitude toward skating and enjoy it much more. Now, I’ve applied this to different aspects of my life, including school and it has really helped! "

Tiffany - Synchronized and Singles Figure skater

"One of the most powerful things that I took away from my coaching with Shannon was the use of Imagery, how I can use it to prepare for challenging situations. When I practice with Imagery ahead of time, I realize that I have been there before and I’ve planned for this situation. As a result, I feel more in control and confident of my abilities. I now use Imagery to
prepare for challenging situations as a way to regulate my emotions and get me in a good mindset, it’s great to feel prepared.

The other thing that has really helped was being aware of my activation level. Before, I won’t lie, I was unaware of it, and now that I know where I want to be (excitement level as I start a game), I feel better, like I am in more control of how I am showing up. "

Ava - High School Softball player

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