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A Conversation on Mental Toughness With Doug Strycharczyk
Episode 625th May 2023 • ONCoaching • Zoltán Csigás
00:00:00 00:47:27

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In this episode of OnCoaching Zoltán talks with Doug Strycharczyk CEO of AQR International. He is a leading authority on the Mental Toughness concept. This framework describes a meta-cognitive personality concept which describes how people think when something challenging occurs or when they anticipate its occurrence. This episode gives an insight into the concept through the story of Doug. He shares the core of the concept, ideas around application, and some fascinating research results too.

Transcripts

Zoltán Csigás:

Hello, my name is Zoltan Csigás, and this is Zoltan Podcast ON COACHING. . In the series, I'm talking with an internationally renowned coaching scientists and coaches. We explore their personal and professional insights on the science of coaching, and on the helping professions. Are you interested in how they got close to this profession? Are you curious about the new frontiers they are exploring right now? Join me and listen to the conversation, inspiration, and some fun is ahead. Welcome, I'm delighted to have Dr. Strycharczyk today as my guest, as we had so many previous conversations. And when I had the idea of the whole Old coaching podcast, you were one of the guests that I immediately had in my mind, as you are the head of AQR International, prominent firm leading the distribution of our mental toughness measure, you are a leading person in the whole area of profiling and mental toughness assessment. I really respect and value both of friendship and the your contribution to the work. So welcome. And thank you very much for accepting my invitation.

Doug Strycharczyk:

It's a pleasure Solly. I'm really, really pleased to be here. And you're quite right. We always have really good conversations. I hope we have a conversation that interests our listeners today.

Zoltán Csigás:

I'm quite sure. May I ask you to give a quick introduction on yourself. So what's your background and what drove you to this field?

Doug Strycharczyk:

My background for many years, I suppose, human resource development professional. But my particular brief was always problem solving. Every organization I worked for, they would bring me in because they had a particular problem. It was always a people problem. I developed a bit of expertise. And after a while, I decided that I would become a consultant. Because this was something that people would organizations would buy, but they only wanted it for a few months. And I quite like that sort of like my background is my degrees in economics. And that is significant. Because I fell in love with the subject. It really appealed to me. I remember the words of the lecture us on my first day. He said, economics is about how you create wealth, and how you distribute wealth. This is important to society, we're going to improve, we need to create more and more wealth, to share it out. We make everybody better. And it by wealth, he meant not money. But everything that we see as valuable. And bear in mind this is 50 years ago, Zoli. I was thinking about this the other day, he started talking about one day he said water will be valuable only because no one wanted comes out of a tap. In those days, you could buy bottled water, but it was Perrier, only people who had pretentions would drink water out of a bottle. Now everybody does it. We know how important and valuable water it so an example of how creating wealth is is important.

Zoltán Csigás:

If I can interrupt you just for a second, as you wrote in the example of voter vs upcycled. Is that immediately associated to mental health? Yes, meaning a type of wealth that hasn't really been recognized as something valuable in the long term or for or in the past. It was mostly taken for granted. And I think we are now both in the business of running for non qualified mental health. But that's a good question. How would I call it?

Doug Strycharczyk:

Well be? Yes. Yes. psychological well being feeling content? Absolutely. And that's that's dressing the heart of the Mental Toughness, concept, my interest in mental toughness? Because one of the little experiments we did, we stopped me was they we went to work with the department. So we have this project for the degree. And the department store had some fabric which they couldn't sell was very high quality fabric. very elaborately designed. But they couldn't sell it. They said, use what you learned on your economics degree. Can you help us shift it? And we looked at it and we analyzed it. And we did something nobody else expected us to do. We first of all, we put the product in the middle of the department, everybody would go past it so nobody could ignore it. And we double the price. Everybody expected us to reduce the price to a level where it would just disappear. We double the price and it shut out of the store ever it was sold out in days. The question for me was that's not what economic theory said should happen. You know it's a lower price is shift more stuff. And of course the penny did then drop. a confounding factor was people People don't operate according to systems, and everybody's individual. And everybody responds in their own way. It could be emotionally, mentally, in different ways to the same events. And that's what started to get me interested in psychology. And I suppose that was in those days, there wasn't such a thing as behavioral economics, there is now I suppose we were really flirting with the idea of behavioral economics. And then when I did my projects, in the projects that I described, very often, I would find the workforces, and the management teams that I worked with, didn't respond in a way that they should. So I'll give you an example. This one's very dear to my heart, performance management systems, the nonsense, very, very rarely do you see one that works? Organization after organization has this belief that here's a system, I tell people exactly what I want from them. And of course, they're going to respond exactly how I expect them to respond. That never happens. So people won't participate. managers don't like running. So it's the human factor that reduces the system, and they sit in a valueless. That's true about everything we see. So that's fed and develop my curiosity over the years. Why do people respond in different ways to events, and often in an unpredictable way? Can we understand that better? Because if we can, then perhaps we can do something about it something more effective,

Zoltán Csigás:

and hope that you would they didn't become upset who analyst or therapist, so hope the concept of mental toughness, come to your field of vision or pure interest. So why mental toughness and why not something else? Well,

Doug Strycharczyk:

partly, that's it's not totally an accident, because I was already looking at ideas that I now know, are part of the Mental Toughness framework, but I met somebody you know, very well, Professor Peter cloth. And he was a young, aspiring psychologist, when I met him, he came to work for me, then he left to go and pursue a career in academia. And his big interest was this concept of mental toughness that had been developed. Maybe 1015 years earlier in North America, a sports coach called Jim Lola coined the term mental toughness. And he realized that you can make a difference with athlete by working on their mental approach to a game or an event, as well as their physical and skills approach. And he was very successful with this, but nobody could understand it. I mean, he obviously knew what's what he was doing. But in the world of sport is very competitive. So he didn't naturally sort of naturally share it with people. So a lot of academics began to be interested in trying to understand what it was. So Peter was one of them, because we work very closely together, is still work for me, even though he went into the world of academia, if we talk about it all the time. First of all, my reaction, I have to admit, certainly was like a reaction of some people even to this day. And I heard the word toughness, I felt that I liked that. Then bit by bit was Peter explained it to me, I thought, it makes a lot of sense. And then one day, we were working with the UK Customs and Excise operation. Now, it's not doesn't operate this way now. But in those days, the excise bit is that value added tax collection, and the customs bit is drugs, prevention, and preventing things being smuggled into the country. So that's the two very different types of operations. And the excise officers were more like bureaucrats and administrators, their customs people were more like policemen, you know, very hard nosed. And one of the challenges that we were set was to try and first of all, assess everyone in preparation for a big change in the organization, and then develop team working. And so we developed an exercise that would be based on elements of expertise in one of those areas. So for example, we would design a tax problem. And then we put ways to do this in groups of 12. We put six excise officers in a room in six customs officers. And the idea was the customs the excise officers should be able to understand what the problem is quickly, and they should be able to do it quicker than the customs officers. We wanted to see how did they bring the customs officers on board to solve the problem? And that's not what happened. What happened was the customs officers in almost every case took over. They didn't know what Problem was, the experts were sat on the other side of the table. But they would take the problem over, they would come up with a solution. And they would bring the, the excise officers into the solution. And we thought, why is this? And we realized then, that there was a degree of confidence is one group of people that didn't exist in the other. Peter had been talking to me all for months about mental toughness. And we sat there needling, having seen this for the first time, and I just turned out to Peter, and said, Is that what you mean by mental toughness? And he said, Yes. And Peter, at that point, had only ever worked with it in the world of sport. But it's just one of those moments when we saw the four C's in operation in front of us, but not in a sport setting. In a business setting.

Zoltán Csigás:

I always love those moments when concepts come to life. And when the textbooks or the articles become visible, and they just step out from the pages of my reading, I can really feel the thrill of that moment.

Doug Strycharczyk:

Yeah, well, it was. And I went on holiday about three weeks ago, when we passed the hotel where this happened. And I said to my wife, that's where mental toughness was born. And then, of course, the next bit of the story is we started to go to all different types of organizations, people in the world of education has made a difference there for pupils, and for teachers into the world of business, into the world of social mobility, we very quickly went into that world that's working with people, often from areas that have some social or economic disadvantage. In other words, what you find is, their attitude is, we're never going to do it, we can't do it. And yet, they would have all the talent and skills and abilities you could possibly want. Because of their environments, they wouldn't believe in themselves. You could take the concept and apply it in those areas, and you could change people's lives, in many ways, the most rewarding aspect of our work. And what

Zoltán Csigás:

I'm hearing is that and I'm not just hearing Yeah, I'm aware of it, from our previous conversations, that mental toughness in your approach is something that can be developed can be enhanced, to get to higher levels, so people can become more mentally tough, which will be reflected in their performance, or there are the outputs of the work. But before we go there, we define mental toughness for us. Because, okay, have an understanding of it. But I think for our audience, it will be a valuable thing that what is your definition of mental toughness?

Doug Strycharczyk:

Okay, so there is now a definition that is very widely accepted, we've learned that more than 90% of universities around the world accept this as the definition of mental toughness. So mental toughness is a personality trait. We know, it's an aspect of personality. And that's important to understand, which explains, in large part, how we respond mentally, to events that stress, pressure, opportunity and challenge every aspect of life, irrespective of circumstances that differentiates it from behavior. And this has been one of the big issues and developments for us, because most of the time, when people talk about personality, they're actually really talking about behavior, because they're very familiar with things like MBTI, or, you know, YongAn, psychology or the Big Five model. But these are all behavioral models. What they're describing is how you act when things happen. But before there's an action, there's always a prior reaction. So when something happens to this, our action isn't the first thing we respond with. There's a mental response. And what we now know from the research is that that mental response is a significant factor in our behavior is fundamentally more important than understanding behavior, I can understand why people have been so focused on behavior, because you can see behavior and easily describe it, it's almost impossible to see your thoughts very difficult to actually understand your own thoughts or anybody else's, I can't see inside your head and you can't see inside mine.

Zoltán Csigás:

What I'm thinking of right now is that behavior is a very tempting concept, because as you're saying, it's, it's easily observable. And of course, we can work with observable, observable things because they are in front of us, like for us as consultants of sacrilegious, but how do we apply then the Mental Toughness concept if it is not visible? If it is not there, shouldn't you So aren't you translating it to behaviors? So which is then ending up with the very same approach as the other tools that you are? Roger concept that you would have just mentioned?

Doug Strycharczyk:

Well, it's a very good question. First, let me first say that I'm not dismissing behavior, or understanding behavior, to understand behavior is very important because we can describe what we expect from people in terms of the behavior, we can't describe what we expect from people. In turn, I can't say I want you to think this way, I might actually want you to think this way. But I will be saying, okay, wherever you think I want you to behave this way. The important thing is the development of the four C's model. And now the eight factors has enabled us to understand how that those thoughts come together to understand how we think so we now have a framework for doing it for understanding mental toughness. It is true that sometimes, in order to explain it to individuals, we have to connected descriptions of behaviors, because it's quite a quite a tricky concept to understand. But once people have understood that connection, they can are capable of working backwards and say, oh, right, yes, I can understand why having a degree of emotional management has its consequences in outbursts or anger or something like that. So we have a framework. But the big advantage is we now have a psychometric measure, which acts like, which helps us to be able to actually pin down what mental toughness is. And because the right factors, and every single one of us has a different profile, in terms of those eight factors. So we can understand the nuances of our mental approach to events through using the framework and the questionnaire.

Zoltán Csigás:

Is it okay for you weave, as a part of this episode, we share a written summary of the factors.

Doug Strycharczyk:

Okay, so if I, if I start mental toughness is the overarching concept. Underneath that we know it consists of four constructs, which are sort of concepts in their own right, as the concept of control commitments, challenge and confidence. Each of those has two contributory factors, which gives rise to the eight factors. First thing to understand is all eight factors are independent of each other. So non move, you can just change one, and they'll all move. They're all quite independent. So the eight factors are live control. This is where the sense of CANDU sits very simply, when you give some people a task, some people say, Leave it with me, I'll just get on with it. Other people say, Well, I'm not sure I can do it. It's the differences mental. The second factor is emotional control. It's more accurately emotional management. It describes the extent to which you can manage your emotional responses is not always helpful to reveal your emotional responses to others, some of us can manage that others can't. The third factor is goal orientation. And this is about whether whether you can visualize your purpose, you like working to goals. But the fourth factor is achievement orientation. So even when you have a goal, not everybody does what it takes to achieve the goal. So achievement orientation, is describing the extent to which I will do what it takes to hit that goal. What I've just described to you, those four factors, broadly equate to what people understand as resilience. So resilience, the definition is the ability to recover from an adverse situation. That doesn't mean you want to do this happily, it means you have to do it. And it's a backward looking concept, because it's responding to something that happened in the past. So valuable quality, resilience matters. You know, we need resilience. However, it's not the thing that makes us totally content. Because we live a lot of our life in the present. And in the future, we need to be able to adopt a positive and an optimistic approach. The next four factors capture the idea of positivity, and the first element is risk orientation, risk orientation is describing when you look at what's coming up, and you may not even be able to see it clearly. Do you see it as full of opportunity as something to be grasped on his head full of threat and something to be avoided. It's just a mental difference. It's nothing to do with your level of skill or knowledge. The next quality is the one that I got most excited about when we really discovered it, and that's learning orientation. So as we go through life, we have opportunities to learn everyday, from things that happen to us and around us. Some of us are very reflective, we extract all of that use All learning others put blinkers on and try to close their eyes. And if something adverse happens to try to forget about it, and they ignore the learning, and they typically will often repeat mistakes, and they will not make as much progress as somebody who learns from events.

Zoltán Csigás:

You go on, my question is, how come that this is the most interesting factor for you? You were so enthusiastic when you mentioned it? Well, you were smiling at you. But this is something that your audience cannot see that you were smiling. And you were like, Yes, this is, this is the thing that I like is nobody orientation you for your favorite if I can say it, it's figuring

Doug Strycharczyk:

this illustrates a kind of thing. I'm loving every minute of this journey. And so we have a piece of research from the University of Western Ontario that looked at the Mental Toughness concept. And they said, Yeah, the aversion is valid. And the measure the measure works. And they then did a study, and they found that 55% of mental toughness in general, is genetic in origin. 45% is environmental in origin. In other words, big proportion of your mental toughness approach to life, you have learned through your life experiences. And so if you look at what learning orientation needs, somebody who has a high level of learning orientation is somebody who's likely to have developed a significant degree of mental toughness. So that's why I say it's the beating heart, it's, it's always the thing that drives mental toughness and a lot of people

21:43

it can become a self reinforcing spiral.

Doug Strycharczyk:

Yeah, so that's what I'm hearing, yes, we'll touch upon a word that's become part of our lexicon, self awareness. I think this is about self awareness as well. And we know how important self awareness is. But people often talk about self awareness about behavior, when talking about self awareness about your mindset. And then the final two factors are about having self belief in your abilities. And there are two broad, two kinds of abilities. There's the skills and knowledge that you have. And the the interesting thing is, we accumulate skills and knowledge, all have our days. But very often, we don't believe that we have enough, or we believe that others have got more. And that's, and that's often incorrect. But if we believe those things, we don't use our abilities. The extent to which we will actually optimize things and deal with, you know, the difficulties in life depends on our belief and our abilities to do so. And then the final one, which is also very important, and has been kind of a revelation in the past few years, is interpersonal confidence. Initially, we thought that was about assertiveness, you know, imposing yourself on other people, but it's not that it's about being prepared to engage with other people. So a very simple example would be, you're going to an event, there are 50 people in the room, you've never met them before. If you want to extract the maximum value from that event, you walk into that room, and you start talking to people, you're not embarrassed by that. But some people can't do that. They'll walk around the edge of the room, they'll wait for somebody to approach them, that sort of thing. And the other manifestation, which links to learning orientation, in a little way, is being prepared to ask questions. And many people don't ask questions, because they think it makes them look stupid. But somebody who's mentally tough, doesn't think that way. The instant they've asked the question and got an answer, they know they're no longer stupid.

Zoltán Csigás:

And I considered this, this conversation as a proof of my high levels in, in this part of mental toughness, because I dare to ask

Doug Strycharczyk:

these questions. Yeah, absolutely. Yes.

Zoltán Csigás:

Thank you very much for this walkthrough. When what what really fascinates me is that you already mentioned that that is true for the genetic background of the concept. And I think, as a psychologist, I think that's, that's a pretty important finding. So what really impresses me is that we have a measure, which opens up the gates of research, as the concepts of mental toughness can be linked to other concepts, and other phenomenon. Were there any outcomes or results that were surprising for you? When you were examining mental toughness?

Doug Strycharczyk:

Yes, I think there are two. One was suppose it up when you're very familiar, and a lot of people are familiar with duacs growth and fixed mindset. So there's a very there's similarities between the idea of growth mindset. And mental toughness, or mental toughness is spectrum, the opposite of mental toughness is mental sensitivity. Whereas index Well, the opposite of growth mindset is fixed mindset. We know from our research, that there's a correlation between performance and your level of mental toughness. So we know that the research wherever we go, whether it's education, sport, business, 25% of the difference in performance between individuals is explained by the differences in the level of mental toughness. That's a huge percentage. But the interesting thing is, there is no such thing as a purely mentally tough and a purely mentally sensitive individual, we work at the top of some of the biggest organizations in the planet. And when you assess them, and this is very relevant for leadership and executive coaching, you will find in terms of those eight factors, on six of them, they are very mentally tough. And that's what Scotland there are maybe two of them that are mentally mentally sensitive. And that that degree of mental sensitivity is what gives them a problem, or can give them a problem. But it's never been a factor for them in the past, because their mental toughness factors have driven him to the top of an organization. So a very simple example is if your interpersonal confidence happens to be one of your lowest scores, and you've got to the top of the organization, by the time you get to the top, your big challenge is to engage a lot of people with you. And if your interpersonal confidence score is not that great, it is now holding you back, you know. So it's that there's the idea of nuance, being able to understand that none of us are perfect in any way. And that we all have these kind of hotspots and cool spots. And we try to avoid talking about strengths or weaknesses really don't like to use in that language. We prefer to talk about advantage and disadvantage. So I'll give you an example. With the save the life control scope, you're going to have somebody who is mentally tough in terms of life control. So they're high achievers. And because of their life control, you ask them to do something, they'll go for it. Some people would say that's a strength, we says it's an advantage in some circumstances. Because what happens with an event that requires forethought, they don't necessarily spend a lot of time thinking about it, they leap into it. What happens if there's the event is actually harder than they can genuinely achieve. They don't see it, they walk in to it, and they experience burnout. Now, and that is no longer an advantage in those kinds of settings. So how can it be a strength and a weakness at the same time? It is a it's an advantage and disadvantage, depending on circumstance. And then when we get to the other end of the scale, the the mentally sensitive end, you find exactly the same thing. So it can be a disadvantage to be mentally sensitive turns Live Control, because you're all back, you're always the last to volunteer, the last to get engaged. Actually, in some circumstances, that's an advantage, you've actually waited and you've assessed everything until you feel you're ready to go for it. And you might have a different type of confidence about moving forward or self belief. So is that a weakness? So what we're learning is this nuance matters, really, really matters. And that I think is central to what coaching is about.

Zoltán Csigás:

They absolutely Randy, what I really appreciate in the concept, as you were talking about it is that both of the let's call them endpoints can have very positive readings. However, what can still be puzzling is that the research shows that higher levels of mental toughness are associated with with better performance, there must be some kind of a trick on the mental toughness and of the scale.

Doug Strycharczyk:

The magic word comes back self awareness, because all of the research that evidence is that says link with mental health, with performance with well being doesn't examine the extent of self awareness about those qualities. But what we know from more specific studies is that a mentally sensitive individual if they're self aware about their profile, that patterns of mental toughness and mental sensitivity, they can learn to optimize the mental toughness and learn to cope with I'll deal with areas of mental sensitivity. And that's actually picks up on an earlier comment she made because Allah you said, we now know how to develop mental toughness. Well, we do, but we don't have to develop mental toughness, we have we can, we can work out how to cope without areas of mental sensitivity

Zoltán Csigás:

isn't coping you kind of development of that scale.

Doug Strycharczyk:

It is I'll give you an example of why that's important. For instance, we know that, in general, the mentally sensitive or creative in a different way to the mentally tough is not absolutely black and white like this, but the mentally tough tend to be more structured in their creativity, the mentally sensitive tend to be more intuitive. So the mentally sensitive people will create the more unusual art the more unusual music. So if you are that kind of person, you do not want to lose that. What you might want to do is to say, I know where my strengths are, or my advantage, I know where my disadvantages are, I want to be able to protect my advantages, and minimize any downside from my disadvantages, or find myself in an environment where those disadvantages don't matter. So I don't want to change. And that's, we have actually had growing numbers of people that begin to understand that

Zoltán Csigás:

I really like these two polarities. And thank you very much for bringing the example. So my question is, are there any jobs or areas of activity where you would consider mental sensitivity to have more advantages than mental toughness where you would hire for men sensitivity compared to mental toughness?

Doug Strycharczyk:

Well, there are, but I'd quite like to just hijack your question just for a second, because one of the things that we're coming to understand is Jim law, the original guy who coined the term mental toughness, he used an interesting phrase, when he was describing mental toughness, he said, it was about enabling everybody to be the best version of themselves that they could be. Now that is, there's a subtlety in there, it's not about being the best that they could be. It's about being the best version of themselves. So when you talk about achievement and performance, a mentally sensitive person might have disadvantages in different areas, or different spheres compared to a mentally tough individual. But they can still be the best version of themselves that they can be. And from a personal perspective, and from a psychological perspective, that's about enabling psychological well being the idea of contentment, that I am optimizing my life, and I'm doing as well as I can, you know, I might not do as well as Ali. But actually, I'm content with who I am. And I know I'm growing a bit every day. So in one sense, that's sort of a philosophy that underlines our application of the Mental Toughness concept is not to label people as good or bad, weak or strong. It's about you as an individual, and being the best that you can be. But turning back more specifically to your question, we know that there are areas where mental sensitive qualities can bring advantage. So what is creativity evoke? If you look at the World Economic Forum, list that that produced a few years ago about the 14 qualities that are going to be important for success in the 21st century, one of them was creativity. Another one was curiosity. If that is really important, and I believe it is, then you can't rely on just one type of creativity. Although the mentally tough in most organizations will dominate by virtue of their other qualities, what you want to do is to have as creative an environment and have ideas coming from every perspective. So the mentally tough, will often bring a perspective to an organization, that won't be immediately obvious to a lot of people in the organization. So that's, I think that's a huge added value. The other is some evidence that the mentally sensitive will bring a different caring approach to a situation or an individual and a more mentally tough, tough person. And I think this the difference between compassion and empathy. So a mentally sensitive person is more likely to be empathetic. Well, if they're more of a lower level of emotional control, they're more likely to feel somebody else's emotions, and understand them and respond to them. In that way, where it's a more mentally tough individual, may well be more compassionate, won't necessarily feel somebody's emotions, but we'll understand them and we'll deal with them from that perspective. So again, the mentally sensitive might be able to deal more effectively with some time Observe clients and the mentally tough person would. So there's just a couple of examples of areas where mental sensitivity, may well be an advantage.

Zoltán Csigás:

I've heard two very positive things. And let me just reflect on them by by acknowledging them with the philosophy that you have mentioned, being the best version of yourself that really links to my approach to coaching, as my focus series is mostly on coaching applications, and I'm really glad and grateful that you brought in this philosophical remark. And that's where I think that the, the empty concept, so the mental concept fits very well with the whole idea of coaching, the examples that you brought in, they bring me the idea of diversity, they say, is a dimension where diversity is important. And we shouldn't just go for mental toughness, when we should appreciate the sensitivity part as well.

Doug Strycharczyk:

I completely agree. And it's something of growing interest of the last 18 months or so since I got into a discussion over more accurately, a disagreement with somebody who stood up in a conference that I was also speaking at, spoke about diversity and inclusion, and promptly argued that mental toughness was a factor that was counterproductive with diversity and inclusion. I did point out that once she was actually demonstrating was completely the opposite. Because what you've just described is what I often say is, we talk about diversity and inclusion. And we talk about again, that like behavior to things we can see color of the skin, gender, these are easily identifiable. What we don't have to touch upon this. I don't like the way you think, I think you think in a different way to me, so mentally sensitive personal life control, who is let's go for it. And the mentally sensitive person, or a mentally sensitive personal life controller saying, hang on Hold on a minute, or the mentally tough person is thinking what a wimp, mentally sensitive person is thinking you're a bully, but they are labeling people mentally,

Zoltán Csigás:

where my thoughts are going, so where I'm going with with this is the end, it may be a big jump, we have some potential webs. Our topic for our next conversation is, is culture, organizational culture, as most of the coaches are working in the context of certain organizational cultures, and they can imagine using the Mental Toughness concept to to map cultures, as I do see certain teams to have a culture or a set of norms or expectations that really fit to the mentally tough description. So let go for it. We believe in everything, you no need to wait them very pushy things. And I can imagine using the default see concepts for mapping out cultures. Question for that, is that in a research on culture, or the close environment of an individual, affecting the mental toughness of the individual? So how does my environment affect my mental?

Doug Strycharczyk:

It's a brilliant question. And you're describing what is probably the core of our practical work. As you know, our mission is to take the concept all over the world. So we develop partnerships with people, we don't tend to do a lot of delivery work ourselves. But the little small amount that we do is all eau de related. And one, there's not yet published research, because it's very hard to find research in an organizational context, because there's so much happening in an organization that it's very hard to sort of say, and this happened because of that. Because there are so many other factors. Well, there are some kind of, I'd call them fundamental truths. When you go into an organization, whether it's a school, college, university business, charity, the Mental Toughness levels are the people at the top of the organization are reflected in the Mental Toughness levels further down the organization. He never find a mentally sensitive senior team and a mentally tough, lower team. Now, when you think about I mean, many people will understand the senior team of an organization senior leadership, really set the culture for the organization, they dictate what the culture is going to be. If they are mentally tough, they will create a more mentally tough culture. And by that I mean very specifically, a more resilient and a more positive and optimistic culture. So mental toughness picks up on those two aspects of culture. What we do see is this relationship between leadership and culture. And of course, the thing that's going to In his mental toughness, so there is a connection. And then the interesting thing zali is we're not coaching specialists, we obviously operate in a coaching role we, we work with lots of coaches. But we can't avoid having coaching all of our od works. To me coaching and sort of OD consultancies are just two different doors to enter an organization to deal with the same problem.

Zoltán Csigás:

I love this picture, especially with the spreading of team coaching and group coaching. Well, we where we tend to see or where I tend to see that we just have a spectrum of interventions, all focused on dealing with organizational or organizational problems. individual coaching focuses, its individual contributors, leaders, then theme and group coaching or trainings, do focus on, you know, groups, smaller amounts of people giving them skills, self infection, whatever. And then we have large group intervention. So this is a spectrum over the front doors. Now, as you speak about the whole this senior teams, mental toughness influences the mental toughness of entire organization, I know I have some research ideas. What do you see? Or how do you see does the self reflective ability of a senior team thread through an organization like their mental toughness?

Doug Strycharczyk:

Well, that's I think you come back to where we started with talking briefly about behavior, self awareness about our mindset, our mentality begins to help us to understand how we come over to other people. And so if we begin to understand that this is the sort of the link to behavior, then we can also then begin to understand why people might not like, the behaviors that we demonstrate. You have to it has to be like a link. Now, these are the behaviors I demonstrate people don't like them, whether those behaviors come from us, because I'm thinking this way, I think I'm the greatest person on the planet, or I really believe in my abilities. And I don't listen to anybody else, because I don't think they've got the same level of abilities as me, I need to change my thinking, I need to accommodate other people. That translates into different behaviors, that translates into a different response from the workforce. You know, it's entirely by that I mean, we have some fascinating little case studies, of case studies of people who have got to the top of an organization, and they come in they, they're almost crying. They're saying, you know, I've had nothing else but success for 20 years, I've got to where I want to be. Now nobody will do I want to do, what got you there. It was your drive, and your total commitment and your preparedness to work hard. Turn, look around and look at the people behind you that you need to bring on board because you can't solve this on your own, then nothing's going to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, they have a different approach to life. Your challenge is to optimize that for them and for you. You haven't to kind of think, get people to think differently. The key thing is we're working on that thinking bit. I've never claimed to be a psychologist, I'm a pretend psychologist. I think they call it meta cognition is thinking about thinking, understanding why and how I think the way I do.

Zoltán Csigás:

If you are okay with it, then I won't have any other questions, this time, just an invitation for you to join me for a next conversation in the upcoming weeks or months. But before I say goodbye, is there anything else have a closing sentence, a final remark that you would like to say that that may have stuck inside you? And you would like to add to this conversation?

Doug Strycharczyk:

But there's only one thing I've been doing this for since 1985? And I look back and I think why am I still still so excited about it is because it's not just a concept. It's a journey. It is leading us all into understanding more and more and more, especially about understanding individual differences. Now in the world of psychology, you look at all these psychology programs that run in universities, they all teach people about individual differences, but it's at that level, it's not at a practical level, then what we have been able to do is to bring some concepts down and put them into the hands of practitioners. So attach meaning to some of these ideas. And I'm just finding it hugely, hugely exciting. And I'll give you one little last case study and I tell people this because it gives me goose pimples. In the last 12 months we've been talking to a group of researchers in another country, I want to identify the country. There are particular reasons for doing it. But they're actually not psychologists, they're doctors. And they came across our concept. And they work in a hospital that looks after young children who are have leukemia. For most of them. It's a terminal situation where the parents live in a hospital, whilst the child's in the hospital. And what they noticed was the parents weren't dealing with the stress and the pressure of the situation terribly well, that was creating problems for everyone. So they looked at the Mental Toughness concept and thought, well, maybe here's something we can use to get people to understand they're become self aware, can we help them adopt a better approach, and it worked. So they got very excited. And now they want to do some formal research on it. But what they are then noticed was that not only did the parents begin to respond better, but the children began to respond better. So the children began to be more relaxed. But here's the magic thing. What they then found is that treatments became began to become more effective. I've got goose pimples, thinking about it, just think we probably understand about 1% of the power of the mind. And for me, it's a privilege to be involved in that exploration. I might only ever take that to 1.1%. But it's the most exciting thing I've ever done in my life.

Zoltán Csigás:

Thank you very much for sharing that. And it's wonderful. I mean, honestly, wonderful. And it opens up such a wealth of ideas and questions. Thank you very much for bringing in that piece of research. I'm just grateful for it. as grateful as I am for the whole conversation. Thank you very much, though. It was a pleasure.

Doug Strycharczyk:

As always, it's been a huge pleasure. And thank you for the opportunity.

Zoltán Csigás:

Thank you for listening to on coaching podcast, where I have curious conversations with virginal coaches and researchers. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to rate us and subscribe. I also invite you to visit Zoltan she guides.com where you can access more resources regarding the coaching industry very well.

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