Tips for mental toughness – How to cope under pressure
4. Do you think that some people are naturally optimists and others are pessimists and therefore some are more mentally resilient than others?
We are not born with optimism or pessimism. These are patterns of thinking we have learnt over time. We learn these patterns of thinking from significant others growing up – for example our parents, family, culture. They habits we’ve picked up that are neither hardwired nor unchangeable. Indeed I’ve worked with many individuals who have had real ‘breakthrough’ moments – almost enlightening moments – when they’ve realised how their current pattern of thinking has been causing them pain for so long. Once people have had this experience and then are taught practical strategies to drive a more empowering pattern of thinking, their mindset and their resilience changes for the better.
It’s important to note that resilience is the result of a number of qualities coming together – our motivational style, our beliefs, our coping style (of which the explanatory styles of optimism and pessimism reside) and our focus. Pessimism or Optimism alone will not determine your resilience. Often where people are challenged in one area, they will make up for it with strengths in their mindset in other areas. For example, you may have the pessimist who is incredibly driven, has great belief in their potential, and puts their head down and bulldozes through their work with immense amounts of resilience. We need to appreciate how each person generates their own resilience. We need to coach the fullness of people’s pattern of thinking. Accurate measurement therefore, is vital to prescribing the appropriate mindset strategies.
5. What are your tips to help people cope under pressure and perform to their very best? And why?
- Focus your energy on the things you can control; Focusing on your inputs puts you in the best possible place to achieve the desired outputs
- Continue to ask yourself ‘what is possible?’ Let the curiosity of this question fuel you. Look to step it up regularly.
- Judge your success by the quality of your execution rather than the result itself.
- Purposefully step outside your comfort zone to build a bank of toughening experiences.
- Confidence comes from preparation. Use a structured approach to plan your out a thorough preparation.
- Take the time to choose your response rather than reacting to circumstances; reactions are based on emotion, responses are based on considered thought.
- Watch your language. Actively move away from the language of blaming towards ‘aiming’ clearly at what you want instead.
- Chunk it down. Break bigger tasks down into smaller bite size components. They are more manageable, less anxiety provoking, and focus us on mastery of our inputs.
- Adopt a learning mindset. Continue to be a student of your profession. Thrive on every learning experience (positive or negative).
- In the heat of the moment, thrive on the question ‘what could be good about this?’