Why Mental Toughness Is Your Ultimate Key To Success in STEMM

Why Mental Toughness Is Your Ultimate Key To Success in STEMM

Why Mental Toughness Is Your Ultimate Key To Success in STEMM

This week we launch into week 2 of our month focusing on Mental Toughness, investigating what it takes to strengthen your Mental Toughness and succeed in STEMM! If you missed episode 1 “How to Master your Mental Toughness” click HERE.

Mental toughness is your ultimate key, because of all the rejection, failure, isolation and comparison that happens in STEMM. Let’s face it, many times we don’t get that grant, the experiment doesn’t work, we work on our own, and our skills and metrics are constantly compared with others for promotion. To counteract these processes in STEMM, we need more than resilience, we need Mental Toughness, GRIT and high levels of self-control.

We know from the extensive research in GRIT and self-control by Angela Duckworth, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, the number 1 predictor of success is, Mental Toughness!  

It isn’t social intelligence…

It isn’t IQ…

It isn’t physical health…

It is about how mentally tough you are when obstacles mount up and the tough times remain!

When we learn to cultivate and strengthen our mental toughness, we experience less stress and have more clarity, control, and confidence. 

Remember: It all begins and ends with mindset.

So How Do We Cultivate a Mentally Tough Mindset? 

We hone in on these four pillars:

👉 Setting goals: instigate your laser focus on short-term goals. Focus on ONE task at a time. This allows us to reduce the overwhelm of getting caught up in the magnitude of the whole event or entire project. This decreases stress. 


👉 Imagery: this is mental rehearsal, which increases confidence. It provides you with a sense of been there done that. You engage all of your senses and rehearse the technique, event or situation. This reduces the unknowns, the unpredictability and increases the sense of control. 


👉 Positive Self-Talk: We all say about 800 – 1600 words a minute to ourselves. So, we might as well make them positive.  Research in sport psychology identifies that athletes who engage in positive self-talk perform much better, have higher levels of confidence and motivation. This is the same for STEMM professionals. We can enhance any situation for ourselves by talking ourselves up, telling ourselves ‘we can do it’, and ‘we are worthy of the opportunity’, or ‘we’ve got this’.  


👉 Arousel control: Our bodies release cortisol and endorphins at times of stress. These cause our palms to sweat, hearts to pump harder, and focus to get messy. We then make ‘dumb’ decisions and our performance drops immensely. By controlling our arousal levels, (e.g. instigating breathing or mindfulness techniques) we can shift ourselves into ‘the zone’ (ideal performance state) and achieve at a much greater level.    

No-one can do this at all times, however, when we focus on being consistent and following through with these four pillars then you will develop enhanced levels of mental toughness. Be consistent in setting your short-term goals, implementing imagery, engaging in positive-talk and controlling your arousal levels (stress). 

The ultimate key to success in STEMM is to strengthen your mental toughness. 

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