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Mental Toughness is that aspect of your personality which describes how you think. Sometimes described as “attitude” or “mindset” this describes our mental responses when things happen to us or happen around us.

Mental Toughness is important in its own right. It is important because it influences strongly both how we act (our Behaviour) and how we feel (our Emotions).

In general, we think of the Mentally Tough as being more resilient. They are able to bounce back quickly in the face of adversity and setback. We often see that they are more positive about the world and life in general. They see opportunity where others see threat in the same situation. They have the self belief to deal with issues that might arise from taking risks.

For them the road to success and well-being can be comparatively smoother.

The Mentally Sensitive, on the other hand, often feel every bump in the road through life. They might see the downside in a situation before they see opportunity. They prefer to avoid change and risk and can respond poorly when setbacks and adversity occurs. For them that road is a tougher journey.

It is fundamentally important to understand there is nothing right or wrong about any position. Most research does suggest that there seems to be some advantage to be gained by developing some aspect of mental toughness in most of us.

It is also the case that most people actually have elements of both mental toughness and mental sensitivity. Mental toughness is a composite of 8 factors. It is possible to be mentally tough in some areas and more sensitive in others.

Most of us are somewhere between the two extremes of toughness and sensitivity. We are, commonly, mentally sensitive in some areas and mentally tough in other areas. For many, much of the time, this doesn’t hold us back. However, when a significant change occurs it can be that we struggle to understand why suddenly we are not acting as well as we did before.

The key lies in self-awareness. Its self-awareness about an aspect of our make-up that is both invisible. It’s in our minds. It is also complex. There is often more than one possible reason why we suddenly struggle. Hence the value in being able to assess “why do I think the way I do?”. The MTQPlus psychometric measure assesses our overall mental toughness as well as its 8 factors.

Once self awareness is achieved, it becomes a matter of reflection. Some may need help with this from coaches and mentors. Reflection about:

a. what this means for me, my wellbeing and my ability to achieve things

b. do I need to change or do I need to live with it in some way?

c. making a decision about my own development priorities.

Having made a choice, then practicing new approaches and techniques until they become a habit … and perhaps then re-assessing how far I have traveled.

AQR International has developed both the MTQPlus measure and a suite of truly effective development activities which work for all ages and for all types. For more information, or to learn how to be trained to us the MTQPlus, contact us on

Doug Strycharczyk

Managing Director at AQR