10 Good Reasons Why You Need A Mental Toughness Coach


My fellow Mental Toughness Practitioner in Sydney, Paul Lyons recently provided this great read to understand what a Mental Toughness Coach can do for you.

I’ll admit up front that as an experienced Mental Toughness Coach and Psychologist I am biased on believing you may need a mental toughness coach. However, I have assisted many people to understand their mindset and how they can proactively manage this to recognise that they can empower themselves to fulfil their goals and to achieve greater positivity and lower their personal levels of stress. We need to be able to recognise in life how we can “starfish up”.

This can work for you and here are 10 reasons why:

1. You can see the wood for the trees

One of the challenges of life is that you can easily become caught up in the everyday emotional rollercoaster and lose your perspective. Someone neutral, removed from the emotion of the situation, like a Coach or a Psychologist, can assist you look beyond it. They will help you to articulate your current reality and ideal future state and achieve that by working with you through the priorities, challenges and opportunities.

A mental toughness coach will focus on improving your performance and wellbeing. They will ideally use the MTQ 4C’s framework to help you understand and identify the mental obstacles and interference that prevent you from performing to your potential.

Author Tim Gallwey in his book 'Inner Game of Tennis' developed a simple model: Performance = Potential – Interference that simplifies the challenge you face to being the best you can be.

2. You can regain your passion and sense of identity

In reaffirming your path from now to the future, your Mental Toughness Coach will help you rediscover your passion and align it properly with your goals to get you motivated and keep you motivated. This will reinforce your sense of identity –who you are, what you stand for and why, and with it the emotional boundaries that reinforce your definition. As a result, you build your self-esteem, self-efficacy and with them a positive mental attitude.

This is an important piece in the puzzle because you learn that if you think you can, you can.

3. Learn to control what you can control

With your Mental Toughness Coach you can learn to identify what situations and circumstances you can control and then to better control them. Similarly, you’ll learn to largely ignore what you can’t control.

4. Better manage your emotions

Emotions are important and thankfully as humans we all have them. With your Mental Toughness Coach you can identify the strongest emotions you have and how they can help and hinder you, especially in a team environment. You have to learn how to regulate your anger, disappointment, fear and confusion when decisions or situations don't go your way and sometimes your elation and joy when they do.

5. Improve your focus

One of the challenges of the modern world is that it is too easy to become distracted and diverted from achieving your goals. Your Mental Toughness Coach will help you set your goals, imagine and visualise your success and learn how to change the channel of your distractions to concentrate and focus more efficiently.

6. Reframe negative situations and failures as positive opportunities to learn

One of my career turning points came from a shift in thinking about failure. I used to think that failure was opposite to, rather than an important part of, success. Your Mental Toughness Coach will help you to reframe negative situations or setbacks as opportunities to learn and also to think about the problem differently. Should you persist with your current course of action or is there another way?

7. Become more flexible and adaptable by being uncomfortable

Your comfort zone is called a comfort zone for a reason. It’s comfortable. Your Mental Toughness Coach will help you to think differently and become comfortable in being uncomfortable. Being more adaptable to changes when they occur and more flexible when you need to be will help you see opportunities and be prepared to take greater risks to achieve them.

8. Manage your inner voice

We all have an inner voice that expresses an opinion, usually negative, that can have us second-guessing an opinion or decision. Your Mental Toughness Coach will help you to create a script and learn how to use your inner voice positively and objectively.

9. Develop your confidence and self-belief

A major part of your mental strength mental strength comes from your confidence in your own ability to perform well in what you do. Sometimes you can lose it, or not develop it at the same pace as your technical or operational skills, which can hinder your progression. This lack of confidence prevents you from performing the way you should, which in turn affects your self-confidence. Your Mental Toughness Coach will help you break this vicious cycle through various techniques that include regular reaffirmation, visualisation, controlled breathing and others.

10. Improve your wellbeing – care for yourself

In improving your mental fitness you need to pay attention to ensuring your body and brain can work efficiently. Your Mental Toughness Coach will help you develop routines and habits around sleep, diet, exercise and learning to recognise and manage your stress levels.

The above are ten of many reasons how a Mental Toughness Coach can help you to improve your performance, positivity, adaptability and wellbeing. This can start through some self-reflection gained from taking the MTQ Plus psychometric test which measures your Mental Toughness and highlights any mental obstacles you may have.

Want to know more? Contact Michelle on 0412047590 or via email

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.



5 Ways To Achieve What You Really Want For The New Year


Do you know how long the average New Year’s Resolution lasts?

Well the research shows that on average when someone makes a promise to themselves at 12:01am on New Years day it lasts somewhere between 3 hours and 3 weeks.

It seems that we do not have much stickability to our goals at this time.

It is even worse when we return to the daily grind of life and work after a much treasured period of respite over the Christmas period. All these good intentions seem to just fly out the window.

So how do we avoid getting sucked back into this daily grind and enhance the stickability to the goals we want to achieve for our work and life?

1)   Write it down

“A goal is just a dream until we write it down”. If you keep all your good ideas and your thoughts about what you want to achieve up in your head – that is exactly where they will stay. If you have a goal, write it down. We are 3x more likely to achieve a goal when we write it down, 5 x more likely to achieve a goal if we put action steps with it and 7x more likely to achieve a goal if we tell someone else about our goal to ensure accountability.

2)   Habit over motivation

I tend to have a few disagreements with people I work with about what comes first – motivation or habit. Most people say to themselves, “I’ll do that when I feel motivated”. The problem is that motivation never comes and the goal never gets achieved. If we want to achieve something new or different from what we traditionally do everyday then we have to create a habit. If you want to exercise – you can’t wait until you feel motivated. You have to create a routine or habit including exercise in what you do every day and do it whether you feel motivated or not. Habit first and then motivation comes.

3)   Find Your Word

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions!! What I do is pick a word every year which represents what I want to achieve. Last year my word was “Spirit”. I wanted to engage in my work and life with “spirit” and every time I engaged in an activity or set a goal for myself, I checked it against my word and all this represented for me.

This year, my word is Monkey. This is actually my Chinese Zodiac sign and I wanted to live and breathe what this represented in 2019. I want to be curious, adaptable, flexible and perseverant.  So, when I set goals for myself into 2019, I will be checking them against my word.

What word will you set for yourself in 2019?

4)   Balance

I think we have a somewhat distorted view of what resilience and mental toughness is all about. We have this view that the more we surge ahead and strive to achieve the more resilient we are. But resilience is not just about how we endure, but also about how we recharge. The very lack of a recovery period (which we often deny ourselves) is dramatically holding back our collective ability to be resilient and successful. 

As Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz have written, if you have too much time in the performance zone, you need more time in the recovery zone, otherwise you risk burnout. Mustering your resources to “try hard” requires burning energy in order to overcome your currently low arousal level. This is called upregulation. It also exacerbates exhaustion. Thus, the more imbalanced we become due to overworking, the more value there is in activities that allow us to return to a state of balance. The value of a recovery period rises in proportion to the amount of work required of us.

5)   What Can You Control

There is an old Chinese proverb that say:

“If you have a problem that you can control, then you don’t have a problem. And if you have a problem that you can’t control, then you also don’t have a problem”

We all have limited reserves of energy. If we are to achieve our goals, we need to worry less about the things we can’t control and consider focusing our energy on the things that ARE within our circle of influence.


Want some help setting some personal or professional goals for 2019. Contact Michelle on 0412047590 or via michelle@bakjacconsulting, or check here to review Bakjac Consulting’s website for more information.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.




Do You Know What Your Interference Is?

One of the “aha moments’ in my career was when I read the work of Timothy Gallwey and his “Inner Game” series. Gallwey posed the following equation:

P = p – i

Performance = potential – interference.

When I recognised and understood this equation, it was quite a revelation. I recognised that as individuals we all have potential, but we all have very different interference which gets in the way of us reaching and realising that potential. It was the new found understanding that without interference, our performance would just equal our potential.

So how do we maximise our potential and minimise our interference?

Part of the answer to this question is to ask yourself, “What is your inner game?”

What’s stopping us could be our lack of necessary skills, drive or motivation, confidence in self, fear as well as over-confidence and not being grounded enough in the present.

If we care to reflect, we would discover that we often stand in our own way with self-limiting, even sabotaging, more often than not unconscious behaviours.

What’s needed to get ourselves out of our own way? Building self-awareness will allow us to become more grounded, build compassion for ourselves and others so that we can be more comfortable in our own skins and more able to appreciate and empathise with others. We can then be more grateful for all the things in our life so we can replace our negative self-communication with more positive self-talk.

Identifying the interference in a particular situation will not only help us to understand our behaviours but also the subconscious thoughts that drive us. It allows us to take responsibility in making conscious choices in thoughts that can drive our desired behaviour. In order to confront the truth and not skirt around short term uncomfortableness we need to be brave, honest with ourselves and be willing to take responsibility for our actions. With practice, we can realise our potential with ease and grace.

Consider …. What are the obstacles holding you back (creating interference) in life, at work, or with your organisation that usurps your potential and prevents the performance you are truly capable of?

Interference can be in all shapes and forms including: lack of knowledge, personal bias, a bad boss, or your own procrastination.

What’s nice about this equation is that it breaks the common problem “I just can’t seem to get this done” into three chunks:

Chunk 1 – Performance – The “this”…. The goal, objective.

Chunk 2 – Potential – what am I capable of

Chunk 3 – Interference – barriers, blockades, obstructions

The solution to a problem lies in either modifying potential or eliminating interference…. If there are no obstacles, you’ll know that you need to improve skills……. So your solution could be found through learning.

If you know how to do it, but are somehow blocked…… Your solution will be in managing obstacles… either tearing them down, going around, cutting through, etc.

In sport, a referee helps balance out any advantages a team may get illegally interfering with an opponent. So what happens when there is no referee? What happens when the interference occurs in your own mind? What happens when your own thoughts get in the way, distract you and impede you from reaching your goals? Is there a referee to blow the whistle and make it right?

If you are not master of your thoughts, then who is? The answer is the thought habits (mental roadways) that have been previously created in your mind. Our brains love to create roadmaps that develop and become deeply entrenched over time. Sometimes they are purposefully created and other times they are created without our conscious knowledge.

Consider a first simple step. Write down the interference currently impacting on your ability to reach your maximum potential and performance. Consider both your internal and your external interference. Now, what action could you take?

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner.  Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, behaviour and wellbeing.  You can find her at or

Why Adopt A Coaching Culture?

Australia has not been as quick to embrace coaching as a methodology for change in workplaces as fast as some other countries. Traditionally coaching has been limited to the top executives. However we are now seeing the real emergence of coaching as an integral part of leadership and team development.

When the leaders within a team adopt coaching as their default position, significant benefits can occur. When it is a leaders preference to use coaching skills, to ask questions rather than giving solutions, to hold back and listen, and to prefer to coach and grow people rather than simply making them do what they want, that’s when you have a coaching culture within your work place.

When coaching becomes part of the culture of an organisation, it allows the best to be elicited from individuals and teams, innovation, and creativity are actively encouraged and every person’s opinion counts, and miracle of miracles, people take time to listen.

But….. What is Coaching?

Coaching is a powerful technique of listening and questioning which allows the individual to gain self-awareness and identify where they are now, where they want to be and the options they have to move forward. A person can develop insights and taken the actions they need to achieve their own personal or team goals.

What coaching is not!

Many people in workplaces regard themselves as coaches – but in truth they may actually be managing, mentoring, training and motivating. Are they asking their team’s opinions, or are they simply problem solving and making the decisions themselves?

Coaching is not telling people what to do or giving them advice, coaching is not filtering what is wrong and right according to your own perceptions and jumping in to finish someone’s sentence because you know what they are going to say. Coaching is not focusing on the past. Coaching is not seeking excuses or blame. Coaching is not eliminating options based on the criteria that “it won’t work”.

Coaching is asking people great questions and seeking their opinion first, stopping to listen without judgement, empowering others to find solutions and take accountability. Coaching helps people to look for possibilities and focuses on the present and moving forward, to set goals and make commitment toward action.

Coaching is not mentoring, managing, counselling or training. In these methodologies, you normally have a subject matter expert which imparts knowledge to another. But in coaching it is the individual who is considered the subject matter expert. They know best how to motivate self, look at personal solutions and empowerment. A coach’s role is simply to facilitate this thinking and ask great questions.

Sir John Whitmore reminds us that with all coaching, the focus is about assisting the person you are coaching to develop self-awareness and then building confidence in them to take responsibility for their actions.

Basically your agenda with coaching is to give a person a fishing rod instead of throwing them a fish.

So consider some great coaching questions the next time you feel a tendency to offer a solution when you see one of your team members is stuck. Consider asking:

·        What have you tried so far?

·        What else could you do?

·        What are you making that mean?

·        What control do you have?

·        What are you willing to let go of?

·        What is missing?

·        What is your plan?

·        How are you thinking of achieving that and moving                forward?

·        When did you decide it was too hard?

·        What can you do to make it easier?


Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner.  Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, behaviour and wellbeing.  You can find her at or