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Why mental toughness is vital for women in tech – and practical advice to develop yours

Brain holding weights = mental toughness

ARTICLE SUMMARY

In order to understand why mental toughness is vital for women in tech it’s first important to understand exactly what is meant by the term ‘mental toughness.

To explain all we sat down with author and leading authority in Mental Toughness, Penny Mallory, who delivers keynotes and workshops for organisations such as Google, Sky, Costa, Microsoft and Coca Cola in order to to develop their confidence, commitment, focus and determination.

Leading authority in Mental Toughness, Penny Mallory

Penny’s expert understanding of how our thinking affects our behaviour is brought together in her Keynote ‘The one thing that will change everything: Mental Toughness’. Penny makes it real, accessible, and inspires life-changing and sustainable results. These aren’t hollow marketing words, her life attests to their human truth. 

As a child she saw alcoholism and mental illness destroy her family. Fleeing home at 14, homeless and fending for herself on the London streets, her life couldn’t have been more dangerous or bleak, yet an inner strength and self-belief enabled her to take control of her future. She made impossible possible and has since dedicated her life to helping others do the same.

It is these experiences that have made her keynotes acclaimed international favourites for many of the  world’s most powerful and storied brands, including Microsoft, Google Cloud, Santander, Coca-Cola, Nat West, Waitrose, Tesco, Telefonica, RoadChef, Sony, CitiBank, HPI, Jaguar, Proctor & Gamble, Airbus and many more.

Penny is a TEDX speaker, author of ‘365 Ways to Develop Mental Toughness’, ’World Class Thinking, World Class Behaviour’ and ‘Take Control of Your Life’.

Mental Toughness isn’t about being aggressive, strong and macho. Some of the quietest, gentlest people are mentally tough. Mental toughness is your ability to manage stress, pressure, challenges, changes and setbacks. The better we can manage this, the better we can enjoy life, remain optimistic. For the mentally tough a challenge or a setback in the workplace or indeed in any setting  can be managed by taking a new perspective. Mental Toughness is a real, tangible, thing that can be taught, learned, measured and worked on.

An incredible £28billion was lost to workplace stress and burnout last year, a new report has found, and I believe that Teaching Mental Toughness workplaces can help to reduce the huge amount of money lost to burnout and stress by helping to better equip people to cope with challenges and in turn make them happier and more productive at work.

HERE, PENNY GIVES HER ADVICE FOR DEVELOPING MENTAL TOUGHNESS:

DON’T WALLOW

Resilience is our ability to adapt, recover quickly and bounce back when things don’t go as we had planned or hoped. Resilient people don’t wallow or dwell on failure; they acknowledge the situation, learn lessons from mistakes and move forward. They are mentally tough and they are more likely to thrive.

START TO THINK OF ‘FAILURE’ AS ‘LEARNING’

A lot of people get so caught up in their fear of failure that it prevents them from taking risks and learning new things. Changing the way we think of failure is key to mental toughness.

Instead of ‘failure’, change your perspective so that you see it as ‘learning’. No one ever started out being brilliant. Everyone learned their skills through exploration, deliberate practice, hard work, endeavour and resilience. Your actions and behaviours come from what you think, and how you think. To behave differently you have to think differently.

BE PREPARED TO LEAVE YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Playing it safe and refusing to leave your comfort zone may be a recipe for failure, but risk is scary. Champions learn to open their minds to possibilities, managing risk and leveraging it to their advantage. By stepping outside your comfort zone there is no loss; you’ll succeed or learn from it, and both are big wins.

REMEMBER THAT IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ACADEMIC SUCCESS

A lot of people get caught up in the fact that they didn’t do as well at school, college or university as they wanted to. But remember that academic qualifications are not the biggest factor in success, in fact, far from it.

Only 30% of any achievement you make will be down to your skill, talent and intelligence, but 70% of your achievement will be down to your mental toughness, focus, resilience and determination are what create success. Think about anyone you admire in business, sport, politics, media – they’ve all achieved their success because of the remained determined, committed and mentally tough. This is the game changer that will set you apart from the rest.

TRY AND REGAIN A SENSE OF CONTROL

Feeling like you’re in control of your life rather than a passenger is key.

Start to visualise how things could be if everything went your way. Create a picture of what you’re after. Set aside the things you can’t control and focus on the things you can.

GIVE 100% COMMITMENT

Some people avoid goals for fear of failure. Others get bored or divert their attention away from them. People think they are committed to doing or achieving something, but it is rarely a 100% commitment. You need to give 100% commitment, this is what will make all the difference to an outcome. For example, something like taking an ice cold shower every day offers surprising physical and mental benefits to the way you think and behave. This is an exercise that is designed to practice tolerating discomfort, which helps to build discipline, resilience, commitment and determination.

LOOK AT A CHALLENGE AS AN OPPORTUNITY

See it as a chance to learn something new. Remember that things won’t always go your way but there is always something to be learnt from whatever happens. Taking learning from every experience is so important. For example in rallying they say, if you’re not crashing you’re not trying hard enough. Sometimes you need to ‘crash’ to find your limit, and discover what is possible.

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