Penny Mallory – Mental Toughness Interview
Ahead of Mental Health Awareness next week, Penny Mallory very kindly took some time out to speak to us about her speaking career, mental toughness, mental health and set us a one week challenge!!
What is the difference between Resilience and Mental Toughness or are they effectively the same thing?
The academics would suggest that resilience is something you engage when you have to get through something, even if you don’t want to, or because you have to. Mental Toughness is a more positive approach to challenges because you want to get through something – you see an opportunity to learn or develop by pressing on, or bouncing back repeatedly – or even ‘bouncing forward’. Personally, I don’t want to over-complicate the issue and if I can help people to build their resilience and their ‘bounce-back-ability’ then I am happy with whatever the definitions are!
Did you experience any difficulties when you were rallying when it came to remaining focused and keeping mentally tough?
Like most people, there are times when it’s easier and times when it’s harder to stay mentally tough, but I practice what I preach every day. When I was driving I was keep reminding myself why I was doing it and it would build a stronger focus and determination in me. I got really tough when I was driving – it’s such a competitive world, you have to stay focused and committed. I think I can manage the stress and pressure of life pretty well, a lot of that is down to my driving experience, for which I am so grateful.
With so much focus on mental health right now, what advice do you give to people who find it hard to switch off?
People who feel stressed by the COVID-19 situation, and changes it has inflicted on all our lives, are at risk of feeling overwhelmed, that they can’t cope, and start to crack. Switching off it now a really important aspect of self care, all within the government guidelines, of course. Simply to spend a bit of time doing things that give you pleasure – it might be baking or gardening, reading or sunbathing. No one can function flat out 100% of the time – we all need a break. Olympic athletes take breaks to recover and re-set so we should all take their lead. It is just OK to rest, it’s essential!
You offer a mental toughness assessment online as part of your presentation. Have the results often surprised people?
People are surprised by how much the assessments reveal about their mental toughness. The beauty of the reports that are generated by the assessments is that they clearly highlight areas for development in the clients’ approach, attitude, and mindset, which give me a great starting point for coaching and building mental toughness. Clients absolutely love the assessments – it’s so exciting to see the results and help build the mental toughness of individuals and teams.
What tips or advice would you offer small business owners that perhaps don’t have a team around them – especially in these times? It can be sometimes a lonely journey and mental toughness must surely be a key to success?
No one has ever achieved anything on their own. Everyone needs a team, or some form of support, around them. Even when you feel alone, you aren’t – there are always people in similar situations, and most people are happy to help, listen and share their own experience. Virtual help is in abundance at the moment – people are offering all sorts of support for free, so use all the resources you can to get the support you need. Humans need humans – we have a fundamental need to feel connected, so my advice would be to talk, talk, talk. Having a clear focus on your goal, understanding what you are working towards will be the key to developing mental toughness- obstacles and problems get smaller when your purpose is crystal clear.
Mental Health covers a wide range of areas – what seems to be the most common issue you have found within businesses?
People are drowning in the volume of work and projects they have on their desks; there’s never enough time, deadlines get tighter and expectations get higher. All that causes stress and anxiety, and stress is a major factor in mental health issues. People are scared to speak up, for fear of losing their job or appearing incompetent. Talking and communicating clearly are the most important factors; if no one knows you are struggling, no one can help.
How much does fear play a factor in people’s decision making? Should we be willing to embrace more risks?
I am a big believer in taking risks because if I live a safe and comfortable life, I will never know what could have been, or what opportunities I might have missed. Pushing yourself to do things that feel uncomfortable builds mental toughness, but also opens your eyes to possibilities that you wouldn’t see otherwise. I encourage people to get comfortable being uncomfortable because the worst thing that can happen is that you learned something you didn’t know before – so in my mind, they is no risk – just learning…its all good!
Did you find speaking came naturally or were you nervous?
I am still nervous every time I speak! Every time is still like the first time for me. The nerves are manageable now and I just take it as a sign of me getting ready for a great performance. My nerves disappear after a few words…and I’m off! I absolutely love speaking, I have so much to share and I never want to stop once I have started!
Lastly – a challenge – With Mental Health Awareness Week coming up – is there a challenge or an exercise you could suggest we take on this week to help improve our mental health and we shall put into action.
I would suggest that if you are truly 100% committed to improving your mental toughness, you will take the following challenge. It will help to build resilience and discipline, increase circulation, reduce weight loss and will help to relieve depression. Are you ready? You are going to take an ice-cold shower every day for 7 days starting tomorrow. At least 3 minutes in freezing cold water, every day. At first, you won’t like it, but it won’t kill. But stick with it and you will start feeling amazing and so alive, very quickly. You will be exercising your resilience ‘muscles’ and after 7 days you will be thanking me – I guarantee it!