In A Pickle? Use Your Mental Toughness To Burst Out Of The Blocks

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Thought I would share this great post by Leadership Coach Paul Lyons who is the CEO of Mental Toughness Partners, of whom I am a member in Australasia. I love the way Paul writes.

Take it away Paul………..

Being mentally tough means you have a confident and resilient mindset which helps you improve your performance and wellbeing in every part of your life including work, personal relationships and leisure. It is a “must have” life skill.

The MTQ48 4C mental toughness framework is a simple and scientifically valid guide to building your mental toughness. Outlined below are the broad principles under each heading of the 4C’s, which comprise Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence.

Control - Be in control of yourself and your emotions

Being in control of what happens to you and how you react is fundamental to being able to enjoy a happy and successful life.

Being in control stems from having a meaning or purpose to what you do and knowing what matters to you and what doesn't. This purpose gives you direction and perspective to your life or work and enables you to better overcome setbacks and challenges. Knowing the boundaries to what matters helps you focus your energies on what you believe in and can control and less about those you are less interested in or can’t control.

Being in control helps you to manage your emotions and anxiety so that you can respond in the way you want to rather than react in the ways you don't when stressful situations arise.

Commitment - Set and deliver your goals           

Doing things. Making it happen. Achieving goals.

Being successful in your life is about setting goals that are important to you fulfilling your purpose and then achieving them to the required standard one step at a time.

The better you are at doing this the more successful you will be and it starts with setting goals that are achievable and then taking action. The first action is almost always the hardest – you need to complete that one to develop some momentum.

There are always distractions and diversions to prevent you achieving your goals and so your focus is incredibly important here. When you focus, you achieve more, with better quality results and are more likely to complete your goals on time.

Challenge - Stretch yourself and learn from everything

The most exciting events in your life can happen when you move out of your comfort zone. You learn new things about yourself and about the world at large.

You have to make decisions you haven’t made before, often in unfamiliar surroundings or situations. In this territory failure is more likely as you learn to adapt but mentally tough people accept that failure is part of your growth and self-improvement. You 'win some, learn some' and each failure or setback takes you closer to achieving your goal.

Confidence - Become confident and influential

Confidence and self belief comes from different sources including from your capability and continual implementation of your skills and expertise. If you completed something successfully today you are more likely to feel confident about completing it successfully tomorrow. Practice makes perfect.

Another key source of confidence flows from adopting a positive and resilient mindset - the glass half full approach, much of this comes from managing your self-talk. If you can think positively about yourself and the world you can have a significantly positive impact on the way you feel and act. This also has a positive impact on those around you.

In summary, using the MTQ48 mental toughness 4C’s framework can help you get out of a pickle or conversely burst out of the blocks.

Want to know more about the MTQ48 and discovering how you can develop Mental Toughness? Send me an email at



Actions You Can Take Every Day To Build Confidence As A Leader


Last week I facilitated a full day session on Mental Toughness for leadership with over 50 senior leaders in a large organisation.

The Managers all completed an MTQ48 (psychometric assessment to measure Mental Toughness) to gain a complete picture of their overall Mental Toughness as well as their ratings on each of the 4Cs of Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence.

It really was a great session, but I must admit my favourite exercise of the day was asking the team to separate into groups of 4 and 5 and consider the Confidence C. Their task was to first think of all they could do to build their own confidence and second of all, what they could do to build the confidence of members of their team. What we ended up with was a fantastic list of opportunities.

When they had finished with their lists, I asked them how many of these really great opportunities they actually carried out on a day to day basis. They admitted it was not as many as they would have liked.

Have a look down the list they came up with. How many do you engage in as an individual or as a leader on a daily basis? For example, do you undertake the simple exercise of reflection? Do you sit in a quiet spot at the end of the day and reflect on what went well, what you are proud of and what your team achieved? If not, why not?

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Want to know more about improving your Mental Toughness and your Confidence C? Send me an email at to enquire about training and coaching to build strategies to enhance Mental Toughness.

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.  You can find her at or

The Power of One Word

Christmas is over and everyone is looking to the New Year. Have you considered your New Year’s Resolutions yet?

Every year, we engage in this ritual. We pick a single point in time each year to try and make a huge life decision, (usually with little thought or planning). We aim to change our attitudes and our behavior through a brief moment of reflection at 11:55pm on New Year’s Eve and expect that will suffice to allow us to reach our lofty goal. And yet, these poorly conceived plans and goals rarely end in positive outcomes and by mid to late January are all but forgotten.

It would seem that our three most popular goals are 1) getting fit, 2) lose weight and 3) quit smoking. Yet within a month of setting these goals, we have tossed them by the wayside, some of us with a little twang of guilt.

According to research, most people — 75 percent — who make a resolution fail on their first attempt and most people — 67 percent — make more than one resolution.

So my question to you is….Why not try something different this year?

Why not consider a single word which can represent all your goals and aspirations for 2017. Just consider one big, contextual word for the year. That’s right, no resolutions, no SMART goals, just one word that is meaningful for you and represents all that you want to achieve for the year ahead.

Last year I read “The Game Changer” by Dr Jason Fox. If you get the chance it’s a great read and fantastic for change management and motivation. Dr Fox talks about contextual momentum. This is getting the balance right between specific goals and open possibilities while still moving forward and making progress. He recognises that it is great to have small crisp action steps that give you daily and weekly traction. You can also plan for monthly and even quarterly goals, however when you start to plan longer term than that, things are not as easy and we can’t necessarily see that far out. There are too many factors we can’t yet use our crystal ball for. What we can do is set “one word”. One word against which we can measure all of the plans and goals we set for ourselves for that year.

If we are going to use the 1st January each year as a time for reflection, it certainly is a great time to hit the reset button. What do you want the coming year to represent for you. What “one word” will exemplify your contextual goal for the year? Then every time you set yourself a new goal, or a new project – you can measure it against your one word.

Now don’t go for the obvious here ok!! I know it sounds logical to pick the first word that comes into your head. But don’t do that! This takes time and reflection. Your word will be with you for a whole 12 months. Make it count. Consider: What do you want to achieve this year? Do you have a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? Or is this year about consolidation and sustaining what you have? Your word has to instantly represent to you what you want and how you will achieve it.

Last year, my word was “Spirit”. It was a year of tremendous personal upheaval and I wanted a word to represent Resilience and my ability to keep going and get up even when I’d been knocked down time and time again. It was a word for me that represented survival. But this year, I wanted my word to not just be about surviving, but thriving.

It took me a few days to come up with my word.  The word I finally settled on was “Monkey”. On reviewing my Chinese Zodiac, I am born in the year of the Monkey. Interestingly though, it seems that your Zodiac year is in fact not a year of good luck for you and 2016 was the Year of the Monkey. So the next year, (the year of the Rooster), has greater opportunities.

The Monkey has many great attributes including natural curiosity, cleverness, playfulness, and they are fast learners. They are also very social animals with a high need for stimulation and are inquisitive. They also love a challenge. Monkeys also eat lots of fruit and veggies and are constantly on the move – a good goal for one of my goals of getting fitter.  So….. since I want 2017 to represent growth, increasing social interaction and networking, getting healthier, learning and adventure, the word Monkey seems to fit all my needs.

So whenever I am faced with a fork in the road or a daunting challenge, I can ask myself, “What would a Monkey do?” How can I live that Monkey curiosity, playfulness, and social life that a monkey leads? Every goal you set yourself, every challenge, every risk, you can measure against your one word.  

This is a great exercise to do with family members and work colleagues, and people you work with can be great to keep you honest. Let’s say that you set your word as “Pirate”, for the purpose of experiencing new adventures and new opportunities as your goal for the year. Colleagues can ask you at critical moments, “Is that what a pirate would do?” Or what about the word “Nike” – everything you are challenged by consider…. “Just do it”. The options are endless. The only rule is you need to measure what you want your next year to represent against your one word. It will be individual for everyone.

So…… Now it’s your turn. What will your “one word” be? What will your one word be that you measure all goals against for 2017? Have a go. Think about it carefully. Once you have it, toss it around in your head for a day or so and make sure it fits you like a good pair of jeans. Then use a whole A4 page and print out your word and put it on the fridge. Now you’re ready. Go for it. Achieve everything your word represents.


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

How to Give Feedback That’s Empowering.

When I am coaching teams and leaders in particular, one of the most challenging aspects of leadership many encounter is how to provide good feedback to people. The focus from any feedback provided should be to assist an individual to enhance their confidence rather than undermine it.

Confidence is a key element of Mental Toughness.

Mental Toughness is a personality trait that improves your performance and wellbeing. One of the4Cs of the mental toughness framework is Confidence, which is the self-belief to successfully tackle the challenges and opportunities presented to us. The more positive and confident you are, the more likely a successful outcome can be achieved.

So how do we enhance an individual’s confidence when providing feedback?

Leaders will often approach their staff, and ask… “Do you mind if I give you some feedback?” However, what is the first thing a staff member usually thinks when asked this question? Most will associate this with “What have I done wrong?”

Unfortunately this old style of feedback often shuts open discussion down. Effective feedback on the other hand opens up conversations, provides insights that people are willing to listen to, allows a person to problem solve options and solutions to take responsibility, and increases their confidence as it focuses on their strengths.

Focus on Strengths

According to a Corporate Leadership Council survey, you can expect a 36.8% increment in performance when you focus on strengths in a performance review and you can expect a 26.4% drop in performance if you focus on a person’s weaknesses.

Consider what the strengths of your staff member are, and ask them to look at opportunities for problem solving using their top strengths.

Out with Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism is basically just an oxymoron – these two conditions cannot co-exist. The effect of criticism on us is almost always negative. People do not feel they are being assisted when they are being criticised. Just ban the use of the expression “constructive criticism”!!

Catch people doing the right thing

We are always looking to catch people doing the wrong thing. But our biggest opportunity as leaders is to catch people doing things right. This simple switch to providing continuous positive feedback encourages a happy, motivated culture with a focus on continuous improvement. Be authentic about your positive feedback and give it often… in fact more than you would expect is required or needed as most people are “starved” for feedback.

Your Positive Intention

Be clear about what it is you are actually trying to achieve. Ask yourself…. “What is my positive intention?”

Many feedback conversations start with a leader not being clear about what it is they are actually trying to achieve. Are you always considering how you want to assist the person to move forward and improve their performance and raise their confidence?

For example – Is your intention to stop a person from having a negative impact on others, or can this intention be reframed to consider how you want to assist an individual build strong relationships with peers.

Raise Confidence

When you are clear on your positive intention, you then have an opportunity to explore with an individual the gap between what is happening now and the goal that you want to achieve…. in other words your positive intention.  You can then build accountability and ownership, by asking the person what THEY suggest they could do to move forward toward achieving the positive intention. When a person can own their own decision making, positive outcomes, confidence and accountability grows. Ask, “What do you suggest?”, or “How can we move forward on this?”, or “What might some options be to achieve this?”

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