Hierarchy of Mental Toughness

hierarchy of mental toughness

Grit, hardiness, resiliency  and the big MT are essentially the same. 

That said, a definition is still needed. There are simply too many clever, pithy sayings and quotes of these skills that are commonplace. Mental Toughness is “the ability to cope with adversity, and to perform well under pressure.” 

Here are the essential skills needed for success.

The synonyms inside of the pyramid are words and descriptors used to illustrate the core component of the psychological skill.

The brain is indeed a muscle and we either train the brain or we treat the brain. 

It’s a pyramid of mental toughness because we need to have one skill in order to progress to another. These levels are not static either, they can fluctuate often!

The basis of all mental health, patience, and strength is Motivation. 

It can come from outside, but it’s strongest when it comes from within. It’s tough to be driven, when you’re being driven.

Without the proper internal motivation and “why”, then long-term development and success just cannot sustain. All of my guests on the podcast have mentioned this skill as well.  

Confidence is the next skill per the hierarchy of mental toughness. Every single athlete tells me that confidence is the most important mental skill, and I agree with them.

So, why would confidence be at the very top? The reasoning is that confidence is NOT an all or nothing concept. Either I have it OR I don’t.

It is a matter of “how much” confidence do I have?

In order for us to try anything in life, there has to be some belief that we can do it, or else we wouldn’t ever try. That’s why it’s a hierarchy of mental toughness

Focus is the mental skill that we work on most with athletes. Besides, every one of us is an athlete, our office is just different.

Focus directly impacts confidence and it’s not a matter of if we focus, it’s what we focus on, and how we focus! 

Here’s why the hierarchy of mental toughness is just like chess! 

The most difficult mental skill is re-focus!

It’s the most difficult because, at many points in life, it’s the most important.

When were we really taught HOW to let go of mistakes and MOVE ON? When were you taught about patience

Nowadays, there are more perfectionists than ever before. This creates people that struggle with making mistakes and as a result, they don’t go for it and they play it “safe.” We can’t be successful that way! Remember, It’s not about the setback, it’s about the comeback! 

The hierarchy of mental toughness lays out each skill and it shows us exactly where we are with regards to our own stuff! 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes. Some clients have included three different winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens.