|Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 9
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DEFINING MENTAL TOUGHNESS (JACK CLARK - PART 2)
John Wooden Video Clip (1 min. 36 sec.): Who was your greatest influence? (Short but Powerful Video Clip)
Jack Clark has been the University of California's varsity rugby head coach since 1984).His teams have won 28 National Championships in 33 years, compiling an overall record of 758–96–5.
A cornerstone of the culture Clark builds within his teams is a Glossary of Terms so that key phrases he uses mean the same thing to everybody on the team. This creates clear communication, standards and expectations. The phrase Mental Toughness is often used by coaches and team members but it can mean different things to different people. Clark defines Mental Toughness for his teams as: "The ability to focus on the next most important thing all the time." In an interview with Jan Stenker for Unconditionally Strong, Clark discussed this definition and the impact it has on his team's approach:
"We just don't expect to get a break. That makes you tougher in a way. We don't spend a lot of time worrying about what happened to us and why it happened to us and woe is us. We just get on with what's the next most important thing, which is our definition, by the way, for mental toughness. We borrowed that definition from a really good Australian cricketer. I always thought it was the cleanest definition of mental toughness I ever heard.
If you focus on the next most important thing when you're under pressure, that's the thing you do. You don't live in what just happened, you're not worried about what could happen next and you don't allow all that emotion to flood you. You're just an operator and going right to the next most important thing. The best fortune cookie I ever opened said, "Get knocked down nine times, get up 10." That involves both physical and mental toughness.
I've done a lot of research on organizational behaviors. I'm a long way from a social scientist, but I really care about that stuff. When you research teams and cultures, you find that the teams who are really tough and resilient wear it on their sleeve. They carry toughness with them, like "We don't need the best product, the best market, the best everything, we're all pretty tough people here."
When I go down to New Zealand, I go to the International Rugby Academy. That's where you can see people say goodbye to each other by saying "kia kaha," which means "be strong." Fathers say it to daughters and moms say it to sons. Be strong. It's like saying "Have a nice day" here or something. How do we celebrate toughness? Where do we see it? How do we love each other up when we demonstrate it?"
One of Coach Wooden's favorite sayings was "When the going gets tough the tough get going."
How do you clearly define Mental Toughness?
Yours in Coaching,
Trouble is an exerciser
Edgar Allen Guest (1881-1959)
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