Can Mental Toughness in sport be applied within an Organisation?

Sydney Sixers

Sydney Sixers

In Saturday’s Advertiser, the headline reads “Mental Toughness will be key to winning BBL final”.

The article reviews a recent semi-final clash between the Sydney Sixers and the Brisbane Heat, but so many of the insights and commentary can be applied to everyday life and particularly how we feel about our work and applying ourselves in organisations. Just consider a few of these quotes.

“At the elite level, with the world’s eyes on you, the pressure of the contest bursts the souls of some and carves diamonds out of others”. “When the tension builds the mind can play funny tricks. Some will cope while others will fold.”

“The player with the ability to divorce himself from the outcome and focus on the execution generally wins the battle.”

“There are obvious signs of those who cope with high pressure and those most likely to wobble when the peak hour traffic arrives”.

“To draw from the events of previous successes is vital in big moments.”

“Lessons learned have told me that the little things are really the big things in elite sport, because generally the difference in skill level is minimal. Quite often it’s the person who thinks he can who wins the battle against the one who hopes he can.”

Consider these quotes from the article and imagine they are not written about cricket, but about your organisation. Do the statements hold true. It seems to me that they are still very relevant.

Isn’t it the individuals who can stay calm under pressure, the most likely to succeed and move through a difficult situation and almost seem to thrive as a result of the challenge?

Aren’t those individuals who focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses more likely to be focused and achieve better results?

In workplaces it is also often the case that many staff applying for a position have almost identical skill bases and qualifications, but it is often other skills that are much more valued by an employer. Skills that allow a staff member or leader to manage their emotional responses, thrive on challenges, commit to achievement of goals and have the confidence in themselves to know that even if they don’t understand a task at first, they will dedicate themselves to finding out the answer.

Within the 4C framework of Mental Toughness these qualities apply just as well to sport as they do within an organisation.


·        Learning to control what we can control – our attitudes and actions and not be distracted by other things we can’t control.

·        Staying calm and not letting our emotions distract us when things aren’t going our way.


·        Learning to get in the right mindset each day and be focused and “in the moment” at a consistently high standard.

·        Being focused on the task at hand at all times and not be distracted.


·        Being driven in our desire to work on our skills to individually and collectively be as good and you can be.

·        Learning to master challenges daily to expand our personal capacity to perform whatever the circumstances.


·        Learning to maintain positive self-belief even if things don’t always go our way.

·        Learning to work well with others and be a positive influence.


So it really does seem that these highly valued attributes in the sporting arena are also highly valued in our organisations.

“The little things are really the big things”.

If you would like to read the article by Darren Berry it is on Page 76 of the Advertiser from 28/1/07

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 www.bakjacconsulting.com or michelle@bakjacconsulting.com