Mental Toughness – on a Munro

I was Munro bagging in Scotland over the weekend. Good sunny weather, but with snow on the tops.

On Beinn Dearg (pronounced Ben Jerrick) the snow was particularly noticeable, and two of the party decided to turn back before reaching the top. I decided to press on by myself to the summit, not least because I have been trained in winter hill walking. The view from the top was stunning, with the peaks of the other mountains around picked out in snow. I was quickly joined by another party. And I made it down safely.

This is not a “look at me, I’m hard” post, but this illustrates all four of the parameters of mental toughness.

The first is challenge. I was happy to challenge myself to get to the top though the snow, and to back myself to do so. There was an increased risk in doing so, because I went on alone, and because I broke an ankle last September. But it was a calculated risk.

The second is confidence. Because of previous training and experience, I was confident that I could cope with the snow conditions, and had enough physical stamina to get to the top and back. Additionally, I knew how to cope if things went wrong. Having completed the job, and proved that the confidence is justified, my mountain confidence has increased.

Thirdly, there is commitment. Having started up the mountain, I was prepared to do what was necessary to complete the task and get to the top. Of course, being stupidly committed to the task, such as trying to climb in a blizzard, would have been suicidal.

The fourth and last factor is control. Subject to the weather, what happened was up to me. Even my reaction to the weather was within my control, so I could monitor whether is was likely to rain or snow, and act accordingly.

On each of the parameters, I scored reasonably highly, although within the normal range. And it is as well to emphasise that a high score is not “good” as such. A low score denotes mental sensitivity, which is equally “good” in other circumstance.

Some people think about the view, but I draw business lessons. Worrying in its way……



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