According to AQR International - “Mental toughness is a personality trait which determines, in some part, how individuals perform when exposed to stressors, pressure, opportunity and challenge. 

It can play a significant role in determining how an individual manages stress as well as being a key factor in enabling individuals and organisations to perform at the peak of their abilities.”

And having spent the morning learning what it all means and how it applies to us, we have been inspired. 

Pauline from AQR delivered the training with seventeen Anchor Group managers from across the country to assess not only their own ‘mental toughness’ but to drill down into the core elements of how we face daily life. 

Unless you are made from titanium, personal issues outside of work will affect your overall; control, commitment, confidence and ability to face challenges. At each given moment, you, your colleagues, family members, and managers are living through their own individual struggles.

Some people’s lives may run smoothly, some might be on the brink of collapse. You might think someone’s got their life together because they remain positive, stay on track and seem calm and collected, when inside they might actually feel nervous and not as confident as you think. This is usually because their emotional control is working to their advantage. Does this sound familiar? Do you consider yourself a mentally tough person? Many of the managers who attended the training do consider themselves to be. And having completed a mental toughness questionnaire prior to the seminar, we discovered that everyone, statistically, sits in the mid to higher end, which is really positive, but there’s always room to improve.

Even if you score highly on one of these tests and consider yourself to be mentally tough, Pauline highlighted a very important point, which was; what might come naturally to one person, might be a lot of effort for someone else, and it’s vital that we understand and appreciate this if our teams are going to thrive. 

And it’s worth mentioning that you can be mentally tough AND mentally sensitive. If the latter, look for ways that you can overcome problems. Just a few examples are;

  • Try to accept that setbacks are normal occurrences.
  • Identify the factors you really can control.
  • Examine any setbacks and, in hindsight, identify what were its causes. Use this for learning! 
  • Take time to recharge your “batteries”. It’s not unusual to take on too much.
  • Take time to recognise contributions made by others, and give a bit of praise where due. 

You can develop yourself as much a possible yet still find that there is an issue within your workplace or team. Watch out for other people projecting their insecurities onto you. And remember, every action doesn’t require a reaction. You can always say “thank you for that feedback” and move on with your day/ task/ life! If you can’t move on, then find ways in which you can manage the situation without losing your cool and motivation. Take into account that the other person may be facing issues in their personal life, it might be close to payday and they are stressed because their bills are due and everything is getting on top of them, they could have an ongoing health problem, a breavement, divorce etc. Take the time to think about others and what they might be going through, and be supportive. 

Another thing Pauline asked us to consider when sending electronic communications is, ‘Netiquette’ - if you are in a hurry, a short sharp email may be confused for abruptness. So how can you soften the message but still keep it short? could you use emoji’s to soften the tone? Is that appropriate? Perhaps to colleagues but not to clients. We’ve all had an unnecessary, passive aggressive email land in our inboxes haven’t we? They bring about unwanted stress from time to time and it’s tempting to jump to our own defence and reply to each and every one of the points, accompanied with one or several exclamation marks. Try to avoid this as they can come across as aggressive. Read the email, take a walk around your area of work, take some deep breaths (this really works) and reply within a timely manner but not in the heat of the moment, trust me, you’ll send a much better reply than the one you would have sent by thumping at the keyboard. 

We got a lot out of today and we look forward to Pauline from AQR coming back and seeing improvements across the board. 

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