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They say a picture is worth a thousand words

As our understanding of the Mental Toughness model and framework grows we learn more about its connections with other important ideas in personality and people development. One challenge is to describe it and its relationship with other ideas as simply as possible.

The above image is the first of those responses.

The 4Cs of Mental Toughness can be arranged as shown.

The Control element describes the extent to which the individual thinks they are in control of their circumstances. The two sub-elements are

  • Life Control which describes the sense of self worth and is often described as where the sense of “can do” is centred and
  • Emotional Control which describes the extent to which you control your emotions and the emotions of others around you.

The Commitment element describes “stick-ability” which has two components:

  • Goal orientation – the extent to which you set goals for what you do
  • Delivery Orientation – the extent to which you do whatever it takes to achieve your goals.

Together Control and Commitment form the basis of Resilience – the ability to persevere in spite of setback and difficulties.

The Challenge element adds to this notion. Challenge describes the extent to which you see the world fill of opportunity as well as threats. Again there are two sub-scales.

  • Stretching oneself – the extent to which you accept risk in stretching yourself
  • Learning – the extent to which you see learning in all outcomes from risk – including failure

Finally the Confidence element describes self-belief. The subscales here are:

  • Interpersonal Confidence – the extent to which you will engage with others to influence them and to question (again to check understanding)
  • Confidence in Abilities – a belief in your abilities and in using them.

Challenge and Confidence are the elements which bring Positivity into Mental Toughness

Laying the subscales out like a segment of an orange allows other pictures to merge.

Emotional Control and Delivery Orientation can be seen as the core elements of Grit.

It’s not difficult to see Goal Orientation and Stretching Oneself as core elements of Aspiration.

Similarly Engagement comes from Interpersonal Confidence and Openness to Learning and

Self Efficacy is a function of Life Control and Confidence in Abilities.

This is not to say that these are all that these ideas embrace but the sub-scales of Mental Toughness do seem to align neatly with some popular ideas and help to join them up in a way that is worthwhile to users.

Doug Strycharczyk – CEO AQR International