On January 15, 2009, US Air, Flight 1549 departed from LaGuardia Airport in New York City, with Captain Chesley Sullinberger at the controls. Shortly after takeoff the airplane encountered a bird strike that resulted in the loss of power in the planes’ engines. Quick thinking, led Captain Sullenberger, to choose the less risky option of landing on the icy Hudson River, instead of returning to LaGuardia or continue on to Teteborough, the next closest airport. It is evident that Captain Sullenberger possessed The Four Traits of Mental Toughness, which enabled him to land his plane on the Hudson River, bringing all 155 passengers to safety.

What is Mental Toughness?

Mental toughness can be defined as the ability to perform consistently and productively under pressure. The concept, was first coined by Jim Loehr, who was a sports psychologist working with athletes, with the principal goal of improving sporting performance. Professor Peter Clough, professor of applied psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University expanded on the concept and how it relates to success in general. In his book “Developing Mental Toughness,”  Clough, describes four important traits of mentally tough people, which he calls the 4 C’s of mental toughness.

The 4 C’s of Mental Toughness 

Challenge: While mentally sensitive people see challenges as threats, mentally tough people see challenges as opportunities. They use stumbling blocks as stepping stones, and their attitude is generally; “I am not what has happened to me, I am what I choose to be.”

Control : In life we have very little that we are in control of. However, mentally tough people believe that they are in control of their destiny. They take control of where they want their life to go, irrespective of what happens to them. In addition, mentally tough people take control of their emotions, by learning how to manage stress, anxiety, doubt and fear.

Commitment: Mentally tough people set goals and have an obsession, where achieving them is concerned. They possess stickabily, and will not relent under pressure, but will stay the course until the goal is achieved.

Confidence: Having high levels of self-belief is a dominant trait in mentally tough people. They believe in their abilities, and are confident that they are able to achieve their set goals. In addition, being confident means having the interpersonal skills to be able to speak in public, with poise, and not taking feedback negatively during the communication process.

The Bottom-line 

You may already possess a certain level of mental toughness, but having the four traits, is important to your success, especially in this constantly changing world. So if you desire to be more mentally tough, start developing your 4 C’s, by looking for opportunities to integrate them into your daily life.