Why is Mental Toughness Important?


Welcome to the second in a series of 3 articles discussing the concept of ‘Mental Toughness’ from one of our partners Joanne Turley at Ark Academy.


Why is Mental Toughness Important?


There are many reasons why mental toughness is important. In fact, with over 7 billion people on the planet, I’d suggest each one would have a multitude of reasons why mental toughness would be important to them. However, to make it just a little more digestible, let’s break it down into some key areas.


Published research and case studies from around the world show that Mental Toughness is a major factor in several key areas.




The first and perhaps most obvious one is that studies demonstrate that Mental Toughness accounts for up to 25 percent of the variation in performance between individuals. Whether that is at work, in education or at play, the higher a person’s Mental Toughness the better they perform under stress, pressure and challenge.


At work it translates into a multitude of positive behaviours. People are more likely to do more and often to a higher standard. They are committed and resilient, meaning that despite setbacks, they still achieve what they set out to. They seek to learn from failures rather than running away from them. They thrive on pressure and rise to the challenge.


Positive Behaviour


Mental Toughness shows up in their behaviours too, making people more engaged, more positive and demonstrating more of a “can do” attitude than others. If you can think of someone like that then they are likely to be high in Mental Toughness.




The well-being agenda for businesses has never been so important. Not only is sickness absence costings businesses billions every year there are now legal obligations to looking after someone’s mental health.


What the research shows us is that those with higher levels of Mental Toughness have higher levels of well-being. They show more contentment and are better at stress management. It’s not that they can take more stress than others, it’s that often manage themselves better and take the steps to ensure the stress they face doesn’t become overwhelming.


Their mindset in this area is a big help too. They see stress, pressure and challenge differently which reduces its negative effects. They are also less prone to bullying both in terms of engaging in bullying behaviours and feeling like they are being bullied. As they are typically confident in their abilities and interpersonal skills, they are willing to stand their ground and give their opinion. They don’t see opposite opinions as a threat to their abilities.




It’s easy to spot the more mentally strong when it comes to aspirations. They have a thirst to challenge and stretch themselves. They are happier outside of their comfort zone than someone more mentally sensitive and will often seek new challenges. Failure is seen as temporary and a lesson, rather than permanent and a reflection on their abilities. In today’s world of fast-paced change, cloaked by uncertainty and ambiguity, teams with members displaying this trait will be the ones that perform.


It is also a major factor in retention, mentally tough people stick things out and ride out the storms along the way. Providing it is blended with emotional intelligence then the mentally tough person has the edge on everyone else. In the world of work, it is key for leadership and staff development, particularly within change programmes as well as in talent management programmes.


Word of Caution …..


As with anything, too much can be a bad thing. High levels of Mental Toughness can be a bad thing without the emotional intelligence to know how to effectively apply it.


If you would like to find out more, then Joanne can be contacted at ARK Academy: jturley@arkconsultancy.co.uk


For more information, please view the other articles in this series:


What is Mental Toughness


Can Mental Toughness be Learnt


Gareth Snaith, Contract Performance Manager, 3SC