Are You Mentally Tough? Your B-School Preparation Requires It

By - Apr 24, 07:00 AM Comments [0]

Are You Mentally Tough? Your B-School Preparation Requires It

Like many MBAs who are naturally filled with ambition and competitiveness, I would love to be an elite athlete, but like so many of us mere mortals (MBA or otherwise), I am not.  I’m pretty good at some things (e.g., I love to get my yah-yahs out on the ski slopes, or tooling around at questionable speeds on my motorcycle), but when it comes to high-performance sports, I know I will never be a Michael Jordan or a Tom Brady.  However, a recent article from Scientific American caught my eye in its discussion of the notion concerning Mental Toughness, a concept described by, among others, sports psychologist James Loehrer, and I realized how applicable the concept is to that competitive sport known as taking the GMAT.

The article describes 12 key attributes of mental toughness, identified from a series of interviews with highly-accomplished athletes:

  1. Unshakeable self-belief in your ability to achieve goals.
  2. Ability to bounce back from performance set-backs as a result of an increased determination to succeed.
  3. Unshakeable self-belief that you possess unique qualities and abilities that make you better than your competition.
  4. Insatiable desire and internalized motives to succeed.
  5. Remaining fully focused on the task at hand in the face of distraction.
  6. Regaining psychological control following unexpected, uncontrollable events.
  7. Pushing back the boundaries of physical and emotional pain, while still maintaining technique and effort under distress during training and competition.
  8. Accepting that competition anxiety is inevitable and knowing that you can cope with it.
  9. Not being adversely affected by other’s good and bad performances.
  10. Thriving on the pressure of competition.
  11. Remaining fully focused in the face of distractions.
  12. Switching competition focus on and off as required.

As I read through the article, I was struck by how closely parallel these attributes are to those that elite performers on the GMAT must employ for success on Test Day.  If we investigate this list a bit more closely, it becomes clear that they can be distilled down to four main aspects of mental toughness:

  •  Hope: The unshakeable belief in one’s ability to achieve goals (“I can think of many ways to get out of a difficult spot and move toward my desired ends“).
  • Optimism: A general expectancy that good things will happen (“In uncertain times, I usually expect the best“).
  • Perseverance: Focus on achievement of one’s goals and not giving up easily when facing adversity (“I am often so determined that I continue working long after others would have given up“).
  • Resilience: The ability to adapt to challenges in the environment (“I do not dwell on things I can do nothing about“).

As you prepare for the GMAT, do you maintain the positive mental focus, optimism, dedication, and resilience you need to perform your best?  You can if you want.  Now, just do it!



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