How Being More Confident Builds Your Mental Toughness

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I really enjoy working with individuals to enhance their personal and interpersonal confidence. In this great post by Paul Lyons of Mental Toughness Partners, he explains how Mental Toughness can be enhanced by improving your confidence.

Mental Toughness is a mindset that provides you with the resilience and confidence to be more productive, more positive, more adaptable and less stressed than those who are not so. It can be measured and then developed through changing habits and adopting a more structured and less emotive approach to work and life.

The Clough and Strycharczyk mental toughness framework, backed by the simple but scientifically valid and reliable psychometric measure, MTQ Plus (part of the MTQ48 family) comprises four main scales or traits; Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence, each with two sub-scales which play an important part within the overall framework.

CONFIDENCE is having the self-belief to successfully complete tasks that may be considered too difficult by individuals with similar abilities but lower confidence.

I see the 'Confidence C' as being the icing-on-the-cake of mental toughness. Those people who possess more confidence and self-belief generally believe they can, and will, complete the task ahead of them. They will invariably keep their heads when things go wrong and often summon greater resolve to overturn the situation. This momentum means they will invariably succeed where others will fail and are determined to succeed even when the task is unachievable.

For the most part it is a positive trait although sometimes someone can be too confident and they may “go for it” when this is not really warranted or prudent to do so. This confident and positive persona is in direct contrast to those people lacking in confidence and self-belief who generally experience self-doubt about their ability to complete the task in the first place. This often leads to them being tentative in their approach and easily unsettled by setbacks. They will feel undermined by these evaporating their confidence and self belief still further.

The two sub-scales within the Confidence ‘C’ are Confidence in Abilities and Interpersonal Confidence.

If you are High on Confidence in your Abilities you are likely to;

  • Feel a strong sense of meaning and purpose to your life and work which can help you develop the strength and perspective to overcome any setback or situation.

  • Know what matters to you, which defines the boundaries that help you keep your emotions and anxiety under control in stressful situations. As a result it helps you focus on the situation in hand and worry less about what could go wrong or what you can’t control.

  • Possess a deep self-belief that you can shape and control what happens to you and influence what is going on around you.

  • Readily accept new and difficult projects.

  • Are less dependent on external validation and tend to be more optimistic about life in general.

  • Don’t let mistakes get you down.

You can be too Over Confident of your Abilities, which might cause you to;

  • Overcommit.

  • Fail to see your own weaknesses.

  • Intimidate others, especially those with low confidence.

Alternatively, if you are Low on Confidence in your Abilities you are likely to;

  • Lack a degree of confidence in your own abilities, even when you know the subject

  • You may often expect things to go wrong and this may lead you to avoid difficult tasks.

  • You may get mistakes out of proportion, worrying about them for a considerable period of time.

  • You may have a tendency to be overly self critical, allowing negative self-talk to dominate your thoughts.

  • Have a missing inner belief and require others to build that.

With regards to the second sub-scale, if you are High on Interpersonal Confidence you are likely to;

  • Be more assertive and less intimidated by others.

  • Feel sufficiently confident to speak your mind and argue with others when you feel you are in the right.

  • Take charge of a situation and make your presence felt.

  • Be better able to handle difficult or awkward people.

  • Easily engage group and social environments.

  • Confidently argue with others who may be more knowledgeable.

You can also be Over Confident Interpersonally, which might cause you to;

  • Not back down in arguments, sometimes becoming aggressive.

  • Be insensitive to other’s views.

  • Suffer poor listening skills

  • Possess the gift of the gap which facilitates under preparation and “winging it”.

Alternatively if you are Low on Interpersonal Confidence you are likely to;

  • Lack self-belief often causing you to avoid putting yourself forward for tasks and responsibilities, which might cause you to underachieve.

  • Be reluctant to express a view in discussion or debate.

  • Be reluctant to ask questions “in case it makes you look stupid”.

  • Be reluctant to do presentations or verbal work.

  • Not show initiative for fear of being in the limelight. You may prefer to wait for instructions.

  • You may not always communicate problems as this can involve conflict and intimidation.

  • Accept criticism and ridicule even when not warranted.

  • Back down quickly when challenged.

  • Allow others to dominate.

  • Have difficulty dealing with assertive people.

Confidence therefore is important in getting the job done and communicating with and influencing other people. However, as always, it is a balance. Have too much confidence and you are in danger of being arrogant and overbearing, which can present as many challenges as lacking confidence and self-belief.

So, how do you develop your Confidence ?

The clues are in the descriptive above. It is important to develop a positive mindset, a reinforcing inner voice and adopt a ‘10 seconds of courage’ approach in situations where you really need to promote yourself.

If you are interested in finding out how you can implement and practice these strategies to build your inner confidence and self-belief, contact me at