Thursday, 25 March 2021

Mental Toughness as a Factor of Success

Written by
Dr Steve Harris, Motivational Speaker

"Mental toughness is a success factor," says Dr Steve Harris, Motivational Speaker. After the New Zealand, All Blacks won the Rugby World Championship for a third time, former All Blacks coach, John Mitchell, claimed that mental toughness was a significant contribution to their winning culture over time.

Mitchell’s claim is impressive when one examines the global demographics of senior rugby players. There is a misperception that the All Blacks’ have an abundance of senior rugby players. In 2011, New Zealand was recorded as having 27,374 senior players. South Africa had 109,878. The ratio was 4:1 in favour of South Africa (, 2011).

Nevertheless, the All Blacks will always have to factor that opposition teams that have greater player numbers to draw on will inevitably, at times, produce a side capable of beating them.

This was the case when the All Blacks were defeated by England in a Rugby World Cup semi-final (2019). In this game the England team’s game intensity (ironically one of the All-Blacks’ traditional strengths) had the All Blacks losing composure and on the back foot for most of the game. In my opinion, it follows that mental toughness, in particular composure, will be a major requirement if the All Blacks are to regain their historic form.

Mental toughness could give all of us marginal gains in sport, work, and relationships. It helps us to access the right attitude. As a result, you are better equipped to manage the tough times and turbo boost the good times. You recognise what makes you uniquely strong, and you own it. You do not run from things that scare you. You face them.

Mental Toughness Sceptics
Some sceptics refute the existence of mental toughness, I have heard claims that supporters of the mental toughness model believe in a binary approach i.e., you are either mentally tough or weak. I guess this could be true for a few, although I have never come across examples to support their claim. My research and experience support the notion that all of us can improve anything on a marginal basis, including aspects of mental toughness.

I would find it hard to dismiss the evidence supporting the existence of mental toughness as a factor of performance and the possibility of developing it for a claim that it does not exist. Whilst I believe in embracing multiple perspectives as opposed a single-story approach that leaves out a lot of information and leapfrogs nuance and detail. Some well-meaning people back a single-story view and with the help of conspiracy theories combined with fake social media posts could in many instances be perpetuating very dangerous pseudo-science hoaxes. My view is, I will embrace and fall in line behind the evidence that emerges from rigorous tests conducted by credible experts.

Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. It is a wiring of the brain that empowers you to probe whether something is real or not in this world. If you do not have the power to judge what is true and what is not true, then you might think that science is just one way of knowing things and here’s this other way of knowing things and there’s no difference between the two, and I choose to believe this and not that.” Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Objective truth and Personal truth (2017).

Motivational Speaker, Dr Steve Harris translates a powerful combination of real-world experience, business success and academic insight into a language we can all understand.

His background as a World Champion Sportsperson and Award Winning Entrepreneur set the perfect stage for his MBA (UCT) and his PhD on Mental Toughness.

Contact Details
Dr Steve Harris - The Mind Doctor
Tel: +27 83 251 7398
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Health and Medicine

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