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Mental Toughness Training

Presence
Online
Format
webinar
Duration
60m
Language
English
Price
$350 USD
Practitioner
$350 USD

Discover, Develop & Deploy your Mental Toughness

Published research and case studies from around the world show that Mental Toughness is a major factor in:

  • Performance – explaining up to 25% of the variation in performance in individuals
  • Positive Behaviour – more engaged, more positive, more “can do”
  • Wellbeing – more contentment, better stress management, less prone to bullying
  • Aspirations – more ambitious, prepared to manage more risk

I have been an Accredited Trainer of the intrernationally recoginsed 8-factor model of Mental Toughness since 2008 and a Master Trainer since 2017

This one-to-one, on-line, live training session will enable you to fully understand what Mental Toughness is and how you can develop and deploy it in your day-to-day challenges.

Included in the session price is the opportunity to evaluate yourself against the benchmark MTQ+ Mental Toughness assessment, enabling you to pin-point where to focus your developmental actions.

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Provided By
Toulouse, France

I help people to discover, develop and deploy their full potential in order to succeed in the personal, organisational and societal transformations they are involved in

I describe my approach as "holistic", enabling people to integrate and unify their head, heart, body and soul

People describe me as a leading-edge thinker giving simple & practical advice, that helps to improve performance

On Core Spirit since October 2021

Bob Larcher
Eight habits of Mentally Tough people

They know what they control, they know what they can influence and they know what they can do nothing about. They do not spend their time “fighting windmills” wasting their energy where they have no impact.

They consciously take into account their emotional state and do not let the emotions of others dictate their actions. They are aware of where they are on their emotional “highway” and manage the manifestations of their emotions.

They set SMARTER goals; goals that are not only Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Trackable, but that are also Easily Readable. Major goals and commitments are kept visible to ensure prolonged focus.

They concentrate on their priorities; what is important and urgent for them to achieve in a given time-frame. They do not get side-tracked by trivia or urgencies that can be treated by others.

They make regular sorties out of their comfort zone in order to experience new and different situations. They are aware when they are developing “unhelpful” habits and are always looking for the means to develop and grow.

They review their failures in order to identify transferable learning and avoid making the same mistake twice. They take measured risks and are willing to “push the limits”

They are assertive; they are willing to speak up to defend their own opinions when challenged while respecting the opinions of others. They acknowledge the arguments of others and are not afraid to admit their doubts.

They have confidence in what they know and are comfortable with the fact that they do not know everything. They are “quietly confident” without the need to be the “centre of attraction”.

Bob Larcher
Mental Toughness – part of the missing link?

If you are not sure what Mental Toughness is all about, you can take a look at some other articles I published previously here on Core Spirit: “Is Mental Toughness a fad?” and “Why developing your Mental Toughness is important” for example.

I have been helping people develop their leadership capacity for just over thirty years now and a cornerstone of my work has always been around understanding the impact of our personality on our behaviours.

The first “approach” that I used (in the mid-eighties) to understanding personality was Transactional Analysis; in particular the PAC model and the notion of “Drivers”.

In 1992 I discovered MBTI and “Jungian Preferences” as a way of “modelling” our personality and then around 1999 I discovered Insights and their “colour / energy” version of Jung’s work.

Both MBTI and insights enable people to understand their “less conscious” inner functioning and, hence, their “more conscious” external behaviours.

MBTI and insights work very well together; one is more based on identifying personality preferences and the other more on behavioural preferences.

Albeit that the (sometimes frighteningly accurate) behavioural descriptions given by MBTI or Insights correspond to the personality “types” identified through their respective questionnaires, I always thought that was something missing; the idea that, “this is my personality, hence I behave like this” seemed too simple for me.

For many (quite possibly the majority) of people I have worked with, the “personality, hence way of behaving” works perfectly and clearly helps people to understand how they can start to develop “behavioural flexibility”. There are others for whom there is clearly a discrepancy between the description of their personality and description of how they typically behave.

My current thinking is that Mental Toughness may well be part of the “something missing”; the missing link between personality and behaviour.

Mental Toughness is described as a “mindset” and often as a “can do” mindset or, for those lacking Mental Toughness, a “can’t do” mindset.

If I have a “can do” mindset, then maybe there are behaviours that, according to my personality, should be “difficult” & “uncomfortable” for me, but are in fact, relatively easy.

I would be very interested in any thoughts, or even research, that you may have with regards to the impact of how mindset “comes between” personality and behaviours.

Bob Larcher
Everyday Mental Toughness — Part 1: Control

Developing Everyday Mental Toughness – Part 1: Control

This is the first of four short articles concentrating on how to develop each of the four Mental Toughness “sub-components”

I work with the model developed by Professor Peter Clough and Doug Strycharczyk.

In their model the four sub-components are:

Control – life control and emotional control
Commitment – goal orientation and delivery orientation
Challenge – risk orientation and learning orientation
Confidence – interpersonal confidence and confidence in abilities

This article will look at some ideas for developing control

Control is about “Can do” and describes to what extent you believe you control & shape what happens to you and your ability to master your own emotions and the emotions of others.

So, what can we do to control & shape what happens to us?

To answer this, I will focus on “Locus of control”; the degree to which people believe that they have control over the outcome of events in their lives, as opposed to external forces beyond their control.

The original work on locus of control was carried out by Julian Rotter in the nineteen fifties (social-learning theory of personality) but was made famous by Stephen Covey in his book “The seven habits of highly effective people”.

We all have a variety of concerns in our lives – our job, our health, our friends and family, the environment, pesticides in food, global warming, the end of the world, etc.

Within our personal universe of concerns, there are some things (usually the minority) that we can have a direct impact on, a few things we can influence and many things we can only stay concerned about.

We all have a choice about where to focus our attention and energy.

We can choose to focus all our attention on the area that is outside our influence. We can get annoyed about the shortcomings of other people, we can blame our boss, the government, the weather, a rotten childhood, bad luck, or even planetary alignment. This focus leads to more and more blaming and accusing, to feelings of victimisation, “poor me”. This negative way of thinking, accompanied by inaction to change things, results in the circle of influence shrinking

Alternatively, we can decide to focus on things that we can influence. This does not mean just the more immediate or “trivial” concerns. It might mean focusing on those aspects of really huge problems that we can exert some influence over. And influence does not mean direct control; we can influence things in an indirect way, for example in our own personal, daily behaviour.

By focusing attention and energy on our circle of influence, we become increasingly proactive. The energy we expend will undoubtedly become more positive and we will start seeing successes; each small success will motivate us to find new ways of exerting influence. We will stop wasting energy on things we can do nothing about, but direct it towards what we can change. With each step we feel stronger and more creative. Because of this, our circle of influence will start to expand.

What about the second element of control, controlling our emotions?

Firstly, I have to say that I prefer the notion of “mastering” our emotions; control conjures up images of gritted teeth, clenched fists and denial of the existence of the slightest emotion.

To answer how we can master our emotions, I am influenced by two quotes, the first is by Victor Frankl, “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing; the last of human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

I don’t know who said the second, “All the water in the world, however hard it tries, can never sink the smallest ship unless it gets inside, and all the evil in the world, the blackest kind of sin, can never hurt you in the least, unless you let it in”.

We have two worlds, the “external” word where events happen and the “internal” world where feeling end emotions happen; mastering our emotions is about getting the “right” distance between the two worlds.

Too much distance and we became cold & antipathic and too little distance we become submerged. We need to “own our own emotions” and let others “own their emotions”.

If someone is screaming and shouting at you and telling you that you are an idiot because you missed a deadline and thanks to you the project will be late, you have two options; you can either become angry and shout & scream back explaining that it wasn’t your fault or, you can simply say to yourself “this person is upset & angry, he or she is in an emotional state”. This will give you time and space to respond in a meaningful way, not on impulse – you might not be able to do anything to change the situation, but you can change the way that you respond to what is happening.

Mastering emotions is not about “not having” or “denying” emotions; emotions happen to us – we do not “decide” to be happy, frustrated, angry or sad. Mastering our emotions is about what we do with the physical impact of our emotions; which can in turn have an impact on the psychological and physiological aspects of our emotions – and on the psychological and physiological aspects of the person we are interacting with.

If you feel your emotions starting to overwhelm you, try some controlled breathing and some form of muscle relaxation. Do this “before” your emotions have completely overwhelmed you; when our emotions get the better of us, our rational brain tends to switch off and the “calming down” becomes more difficult.

Bob Larcher
Is Mental Toughness a fad?

I hear a lot of people say, “oh Mental Toughness, another fad”.

If it is a fad, then it is probably a fad that has been around since the dawn of time; those cave men and women who survived the sabre tooth tiger and freezing winters were (without knowing) undoubtedly mentally tough.

Charles Darwin’s famous quote, “It is not the most intellectual or the strongest species that survives, but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to or adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself”, quite possibly has its roots in Mental Toughness.

The first attempts to understand Mental Toughness were in the 19th Century with people such as Francis Galton and William James looking into aspects of what they called accomplishment.

Galton, the Victorian psychologist and psychometrician (considered to be the founder of psychometrics) studied “Greatness” and James (the father of American psychology) in his book “The Will to Believe" wrote about having “faith in one's own ability to accomplish tasks” and “adopting a believing attitude”.

In the 1950’s Julian Rotter developed the concept of Locus of control, based around the notion that we have either an internal belief or external belief about the degree of control we have over our lives; internal being a belief that we can control our own life and external being a belief that our life is controlled by outside factors which we cannot influence.

In the 1960’s David McClelland developed (based on the work of Henry Murray) the “Need for accomplishment” theory and talked about “high need achievers”, saying that they tend to set moderately difficult goals and take calculated risks as well as having a strong desire to assume personal responsibilities for performing a task and finding a solution to a problem.

In the 1970’s Suzanne Kobasa introduced the notion of Hardiness following her studies (with Salvatore Maddi) of students at the University of Chicago. Kobasa’s identification of three “general dispositions” (commitment, control and challenge) set the foundations for what we know as Mental Toughness today.

In the 1970’s, the notion of Psychological resilience also gained popularity thanks to the work of people such as Aaron Antonovsky and his work on coping and Emmy Werner and her research into the “protective factors” in the lives of resilient individuals.
Orientation to life questionnaire

In the 2000’s Professor Peter Clough pulled together much of the above and developed a comprehensive model of Mental Toughness; the 4C’s (Control, Commitment, Challenge & Confidence), which today has become very much the “industry standard” and an international benchmark.

Research into Mental Toughness has clearly not stopped, Clough himself “revisited” his initial model and identified new sub-dimensions and others such as Angela Duckworth & Carol Dweck and their work on Grit & Mindset have also contributed to our understanding.

As I wrote at the beginning, if it’s a fad, it’s a very sustainable fad.

As long as we need the confidence to take on a challenge and the control to meet our commitments, Mental Toughness will remain an important element in “determining, in some part, how effectively individuals perform when exposed to stressors, pressure and challenge .... irrespective of the prevailing situation”.

Bob Larcher
Developing Mental Toughness

Mental Toughness is considered to be a mindset or attitude which determines, in some part, how effectively individuals perform when exposed to stressors, pressure and challenge .... irrespective of the prevailing situation.

In this article I would like to explore ways of developing mental toughness.

So, what does it actually mean to develop your Mental Toughness? How does one develop an attitude or mindset?

If Mental Toughness is a “can do” mindset as opposed to a “can’t do” mindset, how can we move from can’t do to can do?

Albeit that Mental Toughness is a somewhat abstract quality, in the real world it’s tied to concrete actions

The problem is a bit “chicken & egg”. Is it discovering that we can do something that will change our mindset, or does changing our mindset enable us to do the something?

There are three steps in developing your Mental Toughness:

Step 1
The first step in developing your Mental Toughness is defining what being mentally tough means to you. Mental Toughness is made up of four components; Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence and, although they are intertwined, it is difficult to develop them all at once – in fact, you may not even need to develop all of them.

Do you want to feel more in control of your life or your emotions, do you want more “staying power” to see things through to the end, do you want to bounce back more quickly from setbacks or do you want to behave more confidently and stand your ground when needed? If your answer is YES to all of those then you need to set yourself some priorities and break your development down into “small chunks”.

Step 2
Having decided which aspect you wish to develop, you need to go for the “small wins” approach; don’t set your sights on going from “emotionally impulsive” to a kind of Yoda figure in control of every situation overnight or from someone passive to someone assertive simply because you’ve told yourself you are going to be assertive.

There will be times when things don’t work out as you expected, but don’t worry; dealing with setbacks is all part of being mentally tough. Take a look at the setback from the outside and try to see a different perspective, identify what you could do differently next time – and make sure there is a next time!
If you are someone who starts lots of things but rarely finishes them, draw up a daily routine where you identify the two “must do’s” each day – the two things, that regardless of what else happens, you need to do today. Go for small things to start with; better small wins than failing and reinforcing your “can’t do it” mindset.

You need to take small steps outside your comfort zone; not so far out that you feel in danger, but just enough to succeed and show yourself that, yes, you can do it.

Mental Toughness is about developing daily habits that allow you to keep to your plan and overcome setbacks.

Step 3
Reflect regularly on your progress; create time to ask yourself what you have learned about yourself, about your emotions, about your thoughts and about your behaviours. Identify and even log or record your progress to show to yourself that things are improving.
Developing mental toughness is a process and it's not something you can change easily. It takes a lot of patience and a conscious effort; you can’t simply think your way to becoming mentally tough.

Bob Larcher
Changing the image of Mental Toughness

If you ask people (as I do when starting Mental Toughness sessions) what “images” Mental Toughness conjures up, most people will say things like, “the SAS”, “the Navy Seals”, “sportspeople”, “mountaineers”, etc.

If you search Mental Toughness on the web you will invariably come across sites with images like the images above.

The images are generally of people (invariably men) doing push-ups, pumping iron, running through mind fields and the like.

There are rarely images of doctors and nurses dealing with emergencies, mediators dealing with international conflicts or teachers dealing with the problems of inner city schools.

Mental Toughness is considered to be a mindset or attitude which determines, in some part, how effectively individuals perform when exposed to stressors, pressure and challenge; and not just physical stressors, pressure and challenge!

It is clear that elite athletes must be able to handle pressure, have self-belief and avoid any lifestyle distractions. They must have that urge to win and know that they have all the capabilities to do anything they desire – it’s this that separates the “good” athlete from the “elite” athlete.

The same could be said of the SAS or the GIGN (special unit of the French Gendarmes); pressure, focus, split-second decision making, emotional control, etc. are essential when trying to distinguish between hostages and terrorists in a dark and smoke-filled building.

However, as Dr Graham Jones explains in his book “Developing Mental Toughness : Gold Medal Strategies for Transforming Your Business Performance” this applies to business people and many people in many walks of life; succeeding as a musician, getting your start-up off the ground and on the road to success, staying focussed and calm at the scene of a road traffic accident, working with disadvantaged youth, leading a political campaign - in fact, the list is almost endless.

High Mental Toughness isn’t just about being a sports superstar, canoeing down impossible rivers, climbing unimaginable heights or crossing arid desserts; it’s clear that people who do those kinds of things need high Mental Toughness – but then, so do a lot of us.

It’s what I call “Everyday Mental Toughness”; it’s the Mental Toughness that helps us to deal effectively with those difficult meetings, it’s the Mental Toughness that helps us to keep the project on cost, on time and to specification, it’s the Mental Toughness that helps us to bounce back from the presentation that went horribly wrong and it’s the Mental Toughness that helps to stand our ground without becoming neither aggressive nor passive ……….. and none of that requires big muscles!

We all have a certain degree of Mental Toughness, some certainly have a lot more and some certainly have significantly less, but most of us probably have more than we think. In fact, studies have shown (using the MTQ48) that Mental Toughness is “distributed normally”, i.e. follows a normal (Gaussian) distribution curve with a small percentage at each end of the curve with either a lot or little and a lot of people in the middle with "average" Mental Toughness. With some time and effort, we can all increase our Mental Toughness; we may not move from “very low” to very high” but we all have room for development.

If you have enjoyed reading this do not hesitate to like, comment or share

Bob Larcher
Measuring Mental Toughness

I come across a lot of people who are “globally” mentally tough but with “specific” issues or weaknesses; and it’s often the weakness that “let’s them down” in difficult situations.

Mental Toughness is a “A personality trait which determines, in a large part, how people respond to challenge, stress and pressure, irrespective of their circumstances”

It is made up from four key components; called the 4 Cs – Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence.
Each component is made up from eight “constructs”

  • Life Control
  • Emotional Control
  • Goal Orientation
  • Achievement Orientation
  • Risk Orientation
  • Learning Orientation
  • Interpersonal Confidence
  • Confidence in Abilities

You can have very high “overall” Mental Toughness while being very low in one of the eight elements that makes up the 4C’s Mental Toughness model
The Mental Toughness Questionnaire MTQPlus is an extremely important and useful tool in identifying areas for developing your Mental Toughness; it measures both your “overall” Mental Toughness and each of the eight sub-elements – all on a scale from 1 (very low) to 10 (very high)
Imagine someone with eights and nines (even tens) everywhere (Life Control, Achievement Orientation, Confidence in Abilities, etc), except for Emotional Control; even if the person has very low levels of Emotional Control; their overall Mental Toughness will come out in the high zone; not necessarily a nine or ten but probably an eight – which sounds very comforting.

Clearly, someone with the above profile will probably be out there looking for and taking on challenges, they will probably set themselves clear objectives and be determined to succeed and they will probably be confident in their abilities; however …………………..; however, when it all start to go horribly wrong, their lack of Emotional Control can become a real handicap – shouting, tantrums, name calling and, possibly, even worse.

Emotional outbreaks are normal, we all have to face situations that get “the better of us” and “letting off steam” is not always a bad thing, however ………………………..; however, when it becomes regular it can start to tarnish your reputation.

I have focused here on low Emotional Control. However, we all have our Achilles Tendon; someone could have high scores everywhere except in one of the other elements; very low Risk Orientation or very low Interpersonal Confidence, etc.

They will not show the same behaviours as someone with low Emotional Control, but each “low” will manifest itself in some manner, particularly in difficult or stressful situations, and hinder optimal performance.

Low Achievement Orientation can lead you to “giving up” early and not succeeding, low Life Control can lead you to being “led by the nose” into challenges that are not really for you, low Interpersonal Confidence can lead you to backing down when you are challenged and low Risk Orientation can lead to missed opportunities.

We are all only as strong as our weakest link.

Bob Larcher
Mental Toughness and emotions

Mental Toughness often seems to be portrayed as something very masculine and all about having steely nerves, cold blooded calm and the emotions of plankton during the mating season. In fact images associated with articles on Mental Toughness are invariably musclebound males from the world of sport (often rugby, boxing …) or from the military (Navy Seals, SAS...); unless of course the article is about emotions (and their negative impact) and then you start to see images of women.

In the 4C's model of Mental Toughness, one of the 4 C’s is Control with a sub-scale of “Emotional Control”, defined as “I can manage my emotions and the emotions of others”. Emotional Control conjures up images of someone with fists clenched & teeth gritted and denying anger, frustration, disappointment, etc.

When working on the emotional dimension of Mental Toughness, I tend to use the word “master” instead of “control”; maybe it’s because a lot of my work is in French and “control” has a somewhat negative connotation in French.

I try to help people move from simply being aware of their and others emotions to a mastery of not so much their own and others emotions, but more the way they express their emotions - their behavioural response to their emotional state

Victor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing; the last of human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

Going back to my earlier comments on the Navy Seals, the SAS and other elite military units; I recently watched a documentary on French TV about the French GIGN (Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale) and, as one would expect, they are not “gung ho” terminators shooting at anything that moves. Yes they have (like all elite forces) high Mental Toughness but they are also humans with feelings and emotions; they have to make microsecond decisions (their freedom “to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances”) that will have an immediate impact on the lives of those they are trying to save, their colleagues and themselves.

Emotions happen to us, something happens in our external world and this creates emotions and feelings in our internal world; we do not "choose" to be happy, angry, frustrated, frightened, sad, etc.

Mental toughness is not about ignoring feelings or pretending they don’t exist; instead, it is the ability to perceive, use, understand, and manage them – what many people call today, “Emotional Intelligence”.

Emotion, yet peace” - from the Jedi code

If you like this article, please leave a comment as it will help me in writing future articles.

Bob Larcher
Everyday Mental Toughness – Part 4: Confidence

This is the fourth, and final, of four articles concentrating on how to develop each of the four Mental Toughness “sub-components”

I work with the model developed by Professor Peter Clough and Doug Strycharczyk.

In their model the four sub-components are:

  • Control – life control and emotional control
  • Commitment – goal orientation and delivery orientation
  • Challenge – stretching oneself and learning from everything
  • Confidence – interpersonal confidence and confidence in abilities

This article will look at some ideas for developing confidence

Confidence is about “Self-Belief” and describes to what extent you believe you have the ability to deal with what you will face.

There are two components in Confidence – Interpersonal Confidence and Confidence in Abilities.

Interpersonal confidence

Your level of self-belief isn't set in stone, it’s not unalterable; we all have “ups and downs”.
We all have that little “negative inner voice” that tells us that “we are not up to it”, or that “someone else will better at it than me”, or that “it’s not worth saying what I am thinking”, or that “people won’t be interested in my ideas”, etc. It’s a “little” inner voice but it can be quite “loud”; in fact, sometimes so loud that it drowns out that other inner voice that is trying to tell you that, “yes, of course you are up to it” or that, “your idea is well worth presenting and exploring”.

When you start to doubt yourself, you need to take some time to listen to that negative inner voice. Is it really your voice? Or, is it a parent's voice, a teacher’s voice, a collection of lots of different voices from different times and people? Tell yourself: "This is not my true voice!" Then start to challenge it and also to just plain ignore it.

I’m a great fan of the book, “I’m Ok you’re OK”, a gem of a book that was published in the late sixties and that is still pertinent today. The essence of the book is that we are all “ok”; some people may have a different or higher position, different or more knowledge, different or more responsibilities, etc; but that doesn’t make them “more” or “less” ok than us

Many people who lack Interpersonal Confidence (and self-belief) have a strong inclination to put themselves in the “I’m not OK, you’re OK” position.

To get to “I’m ok you are ok” you need to cut down on comparing yourself with others. Comparing yourself to others is a losing battle; no matter how good you are at something; you will always find somebody who is better than you. Thus, a lot of comparing yourself to others will make you feel “they are ok I’m not ok”.

Confidence in abilities

Very few people succeed in business (or elsewhere) without a degree of confidence in what they can do. Yet everyone, from young people in their first real jobs to seasoned leaders in the upper ranks of organizations, have moments — or days, months, or even years — when they are unsure of their ability to tackle challenges. No one is immune to these bouts of insecurity at work, but they don’t have to hold you back.

Tony Schwartz, the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of the book Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live, says that “confidence equals security equals positive emotion equals better performance,”

Overcoming these self-doubts starts with honestly assessing your abilities (and your shortcomings) and then getting comfortable enough to capitalise on (and correct) them

In his book, Schwartz describes what he calls a 4-step virtuous cycle.

Preparation
The best way to build confidence in a given area is to invest energy in it and work hard at it, deliberate practice will almost always trump natural aptitude; once you are good at something, acknowledge to yourself that you are good at it – “I know my subject and I know what I am talking about”.

Get out of your own way
People who are confident in their abilities are willing to acknowledge that, “I know my subject and I know what I am talking about” and they are also willing to acknowledge that “I don’t, and can’t, know everything” - it’s better to know when you need help, than not.

Being good at something is not about self-promotion, in fact, confidence is probably no longer the right word. It becomes more about purpose and the unique perspective you bring to a subject

Get feedback when you need it
While you don’t want to completely rely on others’ opinions to boost your ego, validation can also be very effective in building confidence in your abilities; when you’ve been told ten times that your presentations are great (and why they are great) – maybe it’s time to start believing that you are good at giving presentations.

Take risks
Many people don’t know what they are really capable of until they are truly tested. Although often easier said than done, trying things that you don’t think you can do can be a valuable experience – failure in a relatively safe environment, when the stakes are relatively low, can be very useful for building confidence.

Confidence is more than thinking positive, it’s about acting positive; you have to put it into action. Action is the key to developing self-confidence. It’s one thing to learn to think positive, but when you start acting on it, you change yourself, one action at a time. You are what you do, and if you change what you do, you change what you are.

Bob Larcher
Everyday Mental Toughness — Part 2: Commitment

This is the second of four short articles concentrating on how to develop each of the four Mental Toughness “sub-components”

I work with model developed by Professor Peter Clough and Doug Strycharczyk.

In their model the four sub-components are:

Control — life control and emotional control

Commitment — goal orientation and delivery orientation

Challenge — risk orientation and learning orientation

Confidence — interpersonal confidence and confidence in abilities

This article will look at some ideas for developing commitment

Commitment is about “stick-ability” and describes to what extent you will make and keep promises.

There are two components in Commitment — Goal Orientation and Achievement Orientation.

Goal orientation

Some hints for setting goals:

Hint 1 — Be specific

This is extremely important. It’s like creating a map. You have to know exactly where you start and exactly where you intend to end up. If you don’t have any idea where you’re going, you’re just going to wander around lost or maybe going in the wrong direction.
Make your goal as specific as possible. What exactly do you want? For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, what does that mean to you? What does weight loss represent? Is it greater self-confidence and higher self-esteem? Or, maybe you’ll be more comfortable with setting boundaries and sticking up for yourself?

Hint 2 — Make it measurable

You have to be able to measure your progress so you know when you arrive at your destination. Sticking with the example of losing weight, how much do you need to lose before you achieve your intended results? Three, five or ten kilos? Set a measurable amount.

Hint 3 — Keep it realistic

This trips up a lot of people up because we often want to achieve huge, unrealistic, feats in relatively short periods of time. So, start with something realistic; once you reach that goal, then you can go for something more challenging if you wish.

Hint 4 — Set a deadline

Having a due date is as important as knowing where you are going. If you don’t set a deadline, you’ll allow yourself to procrastinate, thereby never reaching your goal. You have to create an urgency to actually take action, so set a time frame for achieving your goal.

Hint 5 — Have rewards in place
Having rewards in place keeps you motivated. Celebrate your successes. If you reach a milestone, do something enjoyable. Just make sure it’s something that doesn’t hinder your future success.

Achievement orientation

Some hints for achieving more:

Hint 1 — Create mini-goals
Once you know your final goal, break it into manageable pieces by setting mini-goals so it isn’t quite so overwhelming. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon in six months, break it down and commit to a schedule where you start out walking and slowly add more & more running and more & more speed into your schedule.

In addition to reducing the feeling of overwhelm, when you reach mini-goals it gives you a feeling of success and achievement. This motivates you to keep going, which is an integral part of the process.

Hint 2 — set priorities

Identify for yourself what is important and what is urgent; use your “prime-time” (the moments when you have the most energy and the most focus) to achieving the urgent & important items; i.e. the priorities. Don’t fall into the trap of wasting your time on something urgent but at the end of the day very little importance.

Put the most important or hardest tasks first. It’s better to save the easier or more manageable tasks for the end of the day, when you’re more tired and less compelled to complete the hardest tasks. If you put off the hard tasks until the last minute, you’ll be dreading getting them done all day.

Hint 3 — make “to do” lists

Making a to-do list at the beginning of every day or week can make you feel more focused and motivated to continue your work. If you make a list of all the things you have to do, no matter how small, you will feel more accomplished when you check those items off your list and move on to the next task. This will also keep you focused on one task at a time.

Hint 4 — note what you have achieved

Listing your achievements lets you “see” what you have actually achieved, it avoids that somewhat unpleasant end of the day, “what have I actually achieved today”, feeling.
Developing your goal and achievement orientations will allow you to organise yourself, create focus and maximise your results.


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