"It has certainly helped us to identify who is and who isn't likely to cope."
Program Preparation Stage 3:
Mental Toughness Course Pre-reading
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The Mental Toughness course involves some advanced and challenging ideas. Some of you may be quite familiar with these ideas, while they will be completely new to others. Part of the course involves identifying and assessing long-standing thinking style habits, and ideas about the source of our moods and emotions. It also involves trying out new ideas for empowering ourselves to influence our own moods and emotions in the interests of increasing our motivation, drive and energy.
Firstly – Important Definitions:
1 Mental Toughness is the ability to grow and thrive in the face of challenges, and to bounce back swiftly from adversities and setbacks. It also includes gaining additional drive, energy and motivation from your accomplishments and successes.
Our coaching and learning & development programmes are all about enabling you to perform at your optimal level in all manner of circumstances and situations.
2 We’ll be using the terms Optimistic and Pessimistic on the course.
Optimistic – Most people would mean, “Having a positive view of the future.” if they said someone was an optimist, just as they would mean, “Having a negative view …” if they said someone was Pessimistic.
There are 3 recognised types of Optimism:
1 Dispositional or Personality Optimism. The person who presents themselves positively, and who speaks positively about the future. We all learn to do that as we move into adult life.
2 Actuarial Optimism. Actuaries refer to being more Optimistic about the how likely it is that what they are estimating will occur, or not, as the case may be. Think of the probability of you causing a car accident vs. the person who works at the next desk, or office.
3 Explanatory Style Optimism is what this training is about. This is a deeply embedded habitual way of thinking about the reasons for things that happen to you i.e. making automatic mental explanations.
Each of us develops our own “Explanatory Style” in our very early childhood, and then we forget about it, and just get on with accidentally and automatically using it. It becomes our comfortable “normal” mindset.
On this course we use those two words (Optimistic and Pessimistic) in the way that Professor Martin Seligman uses them in describing the impact of our attributions i.e. they are a style of thinking about the causes of things that have already happened, not about your view of the future. e.g.
Pessimistic means making negative explanations for why good and/or bad things happen to you.
Optimistic means making positive explanations for why good and/or bad things happen to you.
Secondly – Thinking about Thinking:
To get you thinking about how thinking is a choice, and how it influences our emotions and wellbeing, here are some short readings.
“There are many things that go on that affect me that are beyond my control. I can’t control them, only how I react to them. I’ve spent my time worrying about things I can control and can affect the outcome of, and I’ve managed to develop a philosophy that enables me to deal with these.” 90 year old Dr. Stanley Karansky; quoted in chapter 10 of “The Brain that Changes Itself” – Norman Doidge Author.
Download the latest version of Acrobat Reader here if you need to.
What is “Mental Toughness“ – read this description in an article about how the US Army is introducing Mental Toughness training to build resilient soldiers.
Read “Is Optimism a Competitive Advantage“ …
Read the “Thought Leader Interview“ with Chris Argyris … paying particular attention to the page 13 section on the “Ladder of Inference”
Read how an “Optimistic Explanatory Style Supports Good Health“ Using Mental Toughness and Resilient Mindset tools will benefit our health and wellbeing.
You are welcome to print these reading pieces and bring them along for a discussion on any points of particular interest.
Please come prepared with some examples of personal setbacks (adversities) and successes. We will make use of them to assist the learning.
I have listed some additional, but not required reading on this topic.
“The Winning Edge“ Psychology Today
Passion and perseverance may be more important to success than mere talent. In a world of instant gratification, grit may yield the biggest payoff of all.
“Does optimistic thinking influence sporting achievement” … Journal of Excellence
A paper on the growing evidence that explanations (optimistic or pessimistic thinking styles) have a profound impact on sporting achievement.
Thank you. I’m looking forward to working with you soon.
Tel: +64 21 772 079
PS: At the conclusion of the course you may want to go to this Ten Top Tips page I wrote for Management Magazine with some ideas to refresh your learning from the course.