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Scott Expedition great example of Resilience and Mental Toughness

January 4, 2014

Amazing resilience and mental toughness is being demonstrated by The Scott Expedition team Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere during their extremely challenging expedition in Antarctica, particularly during recent days.

Resilience is the ability to absorb stress, pressure, feedback, or personal challenge without being affected, or deflected from one’s own purpose.  It means “bouncing back” and even “bouncing forward” from challenging experiences.  It is thought that resilience is a mixture of behaviours, thoughts, and actions that anyone can develop  (i.e. it is not something that people either have or do not have).

Ben and Tarka have demonstrated the 3 C’s OF RESILIENCE: CONTROL –  COMMITMENT –  CHALLENGE

  • Control: they have been very clear with their expectations as to who or what is responsible for what happens.  For example they have no control over the weather, terrain, etc, and have to deal with it as and when necessary.  However they do have had control over their purpose, planning and preparation, the decisions they make and the actions they have taken as the expedition has progressed.
  • Commitment: they have had a clear sense of self, team and purpose – staying on course, even when the going gets tough.  Commitment requires having clear and stretching goals, planning for the ‘what if’ scenarios, using effective coping strategies and knowing when to ask for help.
  • Challenge:  They have risen to and overcome challenges as they have encountered them and are comfortable and confident in dealing with changing and uncertain situations.

“Courage is resilience to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear” Mark Twain

Mental toughness is defined as having high self awareness and the ability to regulate thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours in a way that delivers sustained performance and success across a wide range of situations. Ben and Tarka have demonstrated the four pillars of ‘Mental Toughness’ identified by Jones & Moorhouse (2008)

  1. They’ve kept their head in very stressful and challenging conditions – enabling them to make well thought through decisions.
  2. They’ve stayed strong in their self-belief to complete the expedition – and when necessary made appropriate adjustments to ensure achievement of the expedition.
  3. They’ve made motivation work for them – they’ve used their goal focussed determination to overcome some very challenging conditions and still have a very strong motivation to succeed.
  4. They’ve stayed focused on the things that matter – on how they achieve their bigger goal through looking after themselves and each other, and given the challenges and circumstances they are faced with, making the best decisions that will help them progress towards successful completion of this hugely challenging expedition.

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