The Role of Psychological Flexibility in Building Mental Toughness, Performance and Wellbeing.
To be effective in the modern workplace, leaders and staff need to have psychological flexibility and Mental Toughness. Performance will take many different forms including – effective communication, clarity of decision making, creative problem solving, managing challenges and managing emotions.
However there are certain psychological states that underpin high performance irrespective of the task involved. These include:
§ . High performance nearly always rests on the ability to focus on the task, often for long periods and not to be distracted by internal or external factors. This requires Attentional Control.
§ . Understanding what is trying to be achieved is critical.
§ . Understanding not just what the goal is but why it matters. Extrinsic rewards alone can lead to a subsequent reduction in intrinsic motivation.
§ . If you want the same results, then keep doing what you are doing. A major barrier to improving performance is rigid thinking or habitual responses formed in previous experience. We need to recognise when to persist and when to adopt a different approach.
§ . Experiential avoidance occurs when someone tries to avoid unpleasant thoughts and feelings by changing what they actually do. A large body of research shows that higher experiential avoidance is associated with lower wellbeing, work performance and quality of life.
Improving Psychological Flexibility and Mental Toughness can assist with each of these factors. In particular by:
§ Helping people concentrate on the task for longer periods of time and develop their attentional control.
§ Increasing the salience of tasks by linking them explicitly to goals, behaviours and values, thereby increasing motivation.
§ Helping people recognise when to persist and when to change behaviour, rather than being trapped into ineffective patterns of behaviour.
§ Manage thinking and emotions more effectively