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Issue 371 - Defining Mental Toughness (Jack Clark Part Two)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 9 Issue 371
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



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,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise




Trouble is an exerciser
Sent us by a Wisdom wiser
Than the mind of man possesses.
Doubts and dangers and distresses
Come not purposely to best us,
But to strengthen us and test us.

He who never gets in tussles
Soon has soft and flabby muscles.
He who, fearing hurts and bruises.
Guards his strength, grows weak and loses
All the power he thought to nourish.
Strong men by their trials flourish.

Never was a stately figure
But by trouble was made bigger.
Cares a man has borne, and still bears.
Trove how much he can and will bear.
He Is strongest of your neighbors
Who performs the heaviest labors.

Not from easy ways and tender
Brilliant minds receive their splendor.
But from problems deep, perplexing,
And from solving questions vexing,
(Nightly pondering wisdom's pages)
Comes the luster of the sages.

Trouble is an exerciser
Sent to make us stronger, wiser.
Sent to make us bigger, better:
It Is not a chain or fetter
Or a snare or trap to best us,
It is just life's way to test us.

Edgar Allen Guest (1881-1959)






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