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Become the best version of yourself that you can be

How an orchestra can teach us about nuance and customisation. 

In 2023 a study from Oxford University examined 143 resilience and wellbeing programmes and found they failed to deliver expected outcomes. Some even did more harm than good!   

The principal reasons for failure: The programmes were all “one size fits all” solutions and were not customised for the individual delegate. Delegates might be selected because there was a need, but their specific needs were not identified. How long have we known this?   

If I want to fix anything, I need to understand what exactly needs fixing, not just that it needs fixing. The study did not say that training could not work. It identified why it did not work. 

With people, there is a degree of complexity to understand and manage. We are complex and we are all unique and different in ways that matter. We are not a 4 letter type or a colour.  

There are ways of doing it much better. The Mental Toughness concept with the MTQPlus measure can be a major part of that solution for most. 

Why? Because the concept, which describes an aspect of your personality, identifies 8 factors which all contribute to your mental toughness. There are a minimum of 40,000 combinations of those factors. At the very least you are one in 40,000. In fact, the options run into millions. 

So, we can identify an individual’s needs to a very fine degree.  

The concept also enables self-awareness, so that the individual can participate in their own development. That is taking customisation to another level. The eight factors explain: 

The thing is that this picture describes more than just 8 pieces of information about the way we respond mentally to events. Each factor is independent but will interplay with others in many ways to create that nuance that we need to grasp to be able to grow and thrive.  

In fact, most of us have areas of mental toughness and mental sensitivity in our profile. That does not mean that one is good, and the other bad. It is about understanding the individual.   

This is getting to the “holy grail” of true development – understanding individual differences and enabling all to optimise in their own way. “One size fits all” must be consigned to the waste bin. 

We can understand this idea of nuance and outcome by looking at the way an orchestra works. Typically, they have 4 major sections for which we show 8 sections representing a type of instrument. Each instrument can be played loud or soft as well as quick or slow. In the same way a mental toughness factor can be more or less mentally tough. 

Like Mental Toughness the orchestra is made up of different parts - Percussion, brass, string and woodwind are shown in the image

We can play almost any piece of music in any style or tempo to produce thousands of variations of the same song. The interplay of each component shapes each unique piece of music. Not necessarily better, just different. Some will like one version; others will like another. 

It is recognisable as the same song just as all people are recognisably part of the human race. 

These are the kind of nuances, created through the eight factors, which make each individual unique. It is this that each one of us needs to optimise — time to understand people better.  

More than usefully, there is now a high-quality psychometric measure that helps professionals (at least those who are serious about what they do with people) to assess people better and from that to help everyone to be the best version of themselves that they can be.  

For information about the Mental Toughness concept (and other AQR materials) and for becoming a licensed user of the MTQ suite of measures contact: The MTQPlus measure is available in fourteen languages, accessible to more than 2/3rds of the world’s population. Completion of the AQR Licensed user training programme is recognised by EMCC and ICF for CPD purposes.