4 Elements for Building Mental Toughness in Global Teams | GoTeam

Do you sometimes feel like you’re “swimming in a sea of stressors?” This year no one is exempt from stress.

Why is it that the most talented athletes sometimes lose to those whose natural, raw abilities are less promising?

An applied psychologist wondered about that question in 1996. “It is one of those elements,” wrote Peter Clough, “that make sporting events so interesting. It’s not always the favorite who wins.” His fascination with the subject eventually led Clough and his collaborator, Doug Strycharczyk, to become experts in the field of mental toughness.

In our second monthly virtual event, the www.go.team tribe enjoyed the opportunity to talk about mental toughness. For the benefit of those who missed the breakout session, we were each given 60 seconds to talk about a challenge that we endured, how we felt about it at the time, and how we feel about it now.

The session we held last 7 August was the second of our newly revamped monthly lunch, which now centers on the theme of self-discovery. It began with some highlights from the previous month, which CEO Fiona Kesby presented:

  • As of end-July, GoTeam is grateful for the trust and support of 100 clients from Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and other economies.
  • A total of 905 individuals (team members and their dependents) are covered by private medical insurance. Last month, thanks to Fiona, Matt, and our HR team, the decision was reached to renew our HMO and life insurance coverage through Generali.
  • Under our values of Care and Find a Way, our leaders have called for a second round of the Start-Stop-Keep survey, first circulated last January. This is a not-to-be-missed chance for everyone to have their voices heard and their ideas considered. To encourage more responses, the tribe was challenged to bring the response rate to at least 80 percent, after which 3 lucky winners of P500 each will be drawn.
  • As part of the revamped monthly event, each work-from-home GoTeam member will get a P500 allowance each month. Part of it can be used to buy lunch during each Discover You session. (Joanne E. suggested in the chat box that we save up the allowance to invest in a good desk and chair for those working from home.) For on-site team members, the monthly allowance is P390, since lunch is provided for them during the event, which Chief Happiness Officer Michelle S. arranges for.

Communication is Everything.

GoTeam Founder Matt Kesby began the Discovery session by saying, “Communication is everything and everything is communication.”

The way we communicate to ourselves plays a crucial part in our ability to develop mental toughness.

But what is mental toughness?

Clough and Strycharczyk, the psychologist-and-economist duo who are among the field’s experts, have defined it as “the personality trait which determines in large part how people deal effectively with challenges, stressors, and pressure…irrespective of circumstances.” They have even developed a measurement for it (called MTQ48) and a related questionnaire.

They were relaxing after a day of running a workshop for customs and excise teams in 1996, when Peter began talking about a concept he was working on. He theorized that beyond raw talent and ability, a factor for success in competitive sports was mental toughness (confidence, challenge, emotional control, and commitment).

Subsequent research has shown that the trait makes a difference in many fields, not just competitive sports. It’s as relevant to entrepreneurs as to military service recruits and medical professionals. Anyone who seeks achievement in a high-pressure or high-stress environment will potentially find it useful. (And this year, who isn’t in a high-stress or high-pressure environment?)

Clough and Strycharczyk went on to write Developing Mental Toughness: Improving Performance, Well-Being and Positive Behavior in Others (2012).
Mental Toughness Model

In the session, Matt shared this framework that breaks down the 4 elements of mental toughness: Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence. We can build mental toughness when we:

  • Learn to see challenges as opportunities;
  • Hold on to a healthy level of self-belief, which fosters confidence;
  • Commit ourselves to stick to tasks, no matter how difficult these get; and
  • Protect the view that we control our destiny.

He then shared the questions we can learn to ask ourselves, as we keep on building mental toughness.

  • WHAT are my goals and what do I commit to do so these are realized? Think of the promises we make to others and to ourselves. What goals do I need to set with metrics around my personal life and my professional life?
  • WHERE can I gain more control? Where in my emotions and my life do I need to get more control?
  • HOW do I get there? How am I going to challenge myself? How can I learn from everything, learn to embrace ambiguity, and stretch myself?
  • WHEN do I need to apply additional confidence, whether in my abilities or in my interpersonal relationships?

Meet 8 Who are Mentally Tough

In addition to learning about mental toughness, we also enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate our tribemates who best lived by our values in July.

CARE: Myshel P., Legal Secretary

Myshel supports a team of solicitors in Queensland who specialize in immigration law, and her client Louise D. thanked her for her enthusiasm and willingness to get the job done.

“I love your focus on clients and sales. I love that you get our business and the model we follow,” Louise wrote. “I love your flexibility and confidence whether dealing with the director or a new client, or even a difficult client.”

DRIVE: Sash M., Bookkeeper

Sash works with a financial services business in Queensland that is committed to giving business owners back the freedom they need, by assisting them with their bookkeeping and compliance processes. The fact that she is reliable, punctual, and articulate is a big plus for her client.

“She has settled in really well and is conscientious with her work,” her client Michelle F. wrote. “She accepts feedback well and wants to learn. She has a great positive attitude and I am very pleased she is on my team.”

HUMILITY: Carlos E., Head Results Coach for GoTeam

This value revolves around having a quiet confidence and a preference to let their work speak for themselves.

Of GoTeam Head Results Coach Carlos E., our CEO Fiona Kesby wrote: “One of the most important traits of great leaders is to show humility, to shift the attention away from themselves and focus on the contributions and needs of those around them. They have great inner strength. The best leaders are humble on the outside and confident (brave) on the inside. Carlos, you are a humble leader and we are blessed to have you as part of our tribe.”

DISCOVER: Blessy G., Consumer Support Lead

Blessy supports a market research and omnichannel marketing business based in Chicago as a “valued member of the Customer Support Team” who is “diligent, dependable, and hardworking.”

We love clients who celebrate tribemates who are committed to discover new skills. Blessy, wrote her client Alex M., “has that rare quality of being able to evaluate a situation and simply know what to do…She has what it takes to help lead her colleagues especially when judgment calls are required.”

Alex’s observations show why the constant commitment to discover is so valuable. It gives global team members the advantage of experience and the ability to recall “all the different resources at her disposal.”

Discovery is a seedbed for excellent judgment.

GRATITUDE: Nerissa T., Shift Leader/Trainer

There is plenty to be grateful for, even in this challenging rollercoaster of a year. One trait that’s so valuable in our tribemate Nerissa T. is her consistency in expressing gratitude “when learning new department strategies or tactics for helping residents” of her client’s property management and corporate housing business based in the U.S.

Client Casey V. loves that Nerissa makes sure what she has learned is applied consistently in future interactions and shared among her teammates. She also has “the ability to  find a way to get tasks done before the  end of her shift, making a smoother transition to the U.S. team come our morning hours.”

When working as a globally distributed team, smooth transitions across time zones are also something to be grateful for.

EXECUTE: Ann B., Data Entry and Administration VA

It was only in the middle of July that Ann began working for one of the largest online audio bookstores and large-print book publishers in Australia. She immediately “stepped up and has shown that she can handle and master the tasks in a short period of time,” her Results Coach Carlos observed.

She was so great at her job that her client Rebecca H. wrote not only to commend Ann for “doing really well” but also to let GoTeam know that they wanted to hire two more team players for metadata positions, “same caliber as the team, same skill set.”

These days, when the pandemic has cost millions worldwide their jobs, isn’t it inspiring  to know that when we do our jobs very well, we create opportunities for others to gain jobs, too. We are proud of you, Ann!

FIND A WAY: Rabina D., Para Consultant

This award honors tribemates who take accountability, responsibility, and ownership of their tasks and refuses to let a challenge or obstacle keep them from their goals. (Rather, they find a way over, around or through it.) Rabina works as a Para Consultant for a medical recruitment business based in New South Wales that places qualified health care workers across Australia and New Zealand.

She “juggles a multitude of tasks every day like an absolute boss,” her client Laura C. wrote. “She also manages to collect 100 percent of my invoices and timesheets each quarter without fail.”

abina has become “such an integral part of the psychiatry team and we are so grateful to have you!”

CEO AWARD: Uelmar O., a Full Stack PHP Developer for GoTeam

GoTeam’s hardworking development team has built some amazing tools in the midst of the quarantine, proving yet again that if we are determined and open to learning, we have the choice to be creative and productive, whatever else may be going on.

Uelmar “needed to navigate learning new technologies to build the huddle boards,” a new feature in the productivity software DoThis.to and, soon, a complementary app. GoTeam Founder Matt Kesby wrote that “something that never existed before is now born, thanks to Uelmar’s attitude toward discovery, his drive, his execution.”

“He ticks all the values.”

Congratulations, awardees! You inspire us to keep on seeing every challenge as an opportunity, to continue to believe in our abilities, and to stick to our tasks even when these are difficult. You remind us that we control our destiny.


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About GoTeam

GoTeam is a outsourcing company based in Cebu I.T. Park, a special economic zone for BPO and IT-enabled services companies in Cebu City, Philippines. We are driven to help businesses scale and be a catalyst for people to exceed.

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