Mental Toughness


I was recently invited to give a talk to an army engineer unit who are doing their training to go to Afghanistan. This unit was training at Tully Jungle Warfare Training Centre where they had just completed a 4 day exercise. The exercise included being sleep deprived and hungry – they averaged just one meal a day for those 4 days. On return to camp the soldiers had a shower and a good hot lunch. Then it was my turn to talk to them for 2 hours and address mental toughness. I can honestly tell you that even with all the talks I have done, I was apprehensive. Apprehensive about whether I could keep these young soldiers awake and interested in the topic of Mental Toughness.

I decided to talk about the engineer tasks that my soldiers had in Vietnam in 1965-66, showing pictures and drawing parallels to tasks in Afghanistan. I followed this by talking about and showing a documentary about the searching of the Cu Chi Tunnels – a task that my troop of engineers did in 1966.

Then I introduced Mental Toughness (which is the subject of this Mind Matters News) and we did a group exercise eliciting occasions when they (the participants) had used Mental Toughness on their recent exercise.  At the completion of this I spoke about my own story of finding out how it (Mental Toughness) can be developed and used deliberately. The next step was to talk about some of the science of the mind showing how Mental Toughness is used in sport.  My concluding remarks drew together the presentation's main points and how they applied to the Commanding Officer's Command Philosophy.

Victor Frankl

I want you to know that mental toughness (another name being inner strength) can be used in a conscious, self directed and deliberate way. Viktor Frankl, in his book Man's Search for Meaning described the process of inner strength. Many holocaust victims were shot, gassed, and otherwise murdered violently. For these people, any will to survive was transcended by the physical violence of their deaths. It is also true that many of those who died in the holocaust, died of sickness, deprivation and exposure. Of the people who were not actually murdered, the ones who had goals, who had a family they knew they had to survive for and those who had a great purpose, tended to be the ones who withstood enormous difficulties and survived.

Those who were not obeying some great purpose, those who were not gripped by the need to achieve an important goal, soon found no meaning in the daily struggle for life, gave up psychologically, and eventually died.

Be aware of some keywords here – great purpose, important goal, and meaning for living.

Nelson Mandela

He was born in a small South African village, to a local chief and his third wife. He was the first person in his family to receive a western education, and was inspired to study law after witnessing the democracy of African tribal governance at an early age. Mandela became a sought after lawyer in Johannesburg, defending black South Africans against the government's increasingly unfair treatment, and a key figure of the African National Congress, a political party that sought to unite all Africans and regain their rights and freedom. He participated in boycotts, organised protests, mobilized his people and in turn was labeled an enemy of the state: accused of treason, banned from political involvement, disbarred, and sentenced to life in prison. Mandela's incarceration was for 27 years and he was released (aged 72) because of the world outcry. He only had words of forgiveness for his former enemies.

As President of South Africa he established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which was a court-like body assembled in South Africa after the abolition of  apartheid. Witnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences, and some were selected for public hearings. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution.

These wonderful words from Marianne Williamson were used by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 Inauguration Speech.

       Our deepest fear

       is not that we are inadequate.

       Our deepest fear is that we are

       powerful beyond measure.

       It is our light, not our darkness

       that most frightens us.

       We ask ourselves who am I to

       be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

       Actually, who are we NOT to be?

       You are a child of God.

       Your playing small doesn't serve the world.

       There is nothing enlightened

       about shrinking so that other

       people won't feel insecure

       around you.

       We are born to make manifest

       the glory of God that is within us.

       It is not just within some of us

       it is in everyone.

       And as we let our own light

       shine we unconsciously give

       other people permission to do the same.

       As we are liberated from our

       own fear our presence

       automatically liberates others.


Doug Sanderson

Here is a story about one of my soldiers in 3 Field Troop Engineers Vietnam 1965-66. 

Doug Sanderson was a Lance Corporal and his No2 (we always worked in pairs when supporting the Infantry on Operations) was evacuated back to base camp – so Doug was on his own. Doug suffered from claustrophobia. In the operation an armed wounded enemy was seen disappearing down a tunnel entrance. Doug was called upon to get him out – it was his job. Doug went down the tunnel alone, located the enemy (who had a rifle), donned his tear gas mask and then threw a tear gas grenade. The enemy was neutralised and coughing, spluttering and with blinding tears, emerged to the surface. It was not until November 2009 that I asked Doug how he did it. Doug said “ I told myself that I had to do it – it was my job. I then pictured, imagined and told myself that I was crawling on the surface of the earth with plenty of air to breathe (when I was down in the tunnel).” What a wonderful example of mental toughness achieved through focused concentration and visualisation. I recommended Doug for a bravery award however it didn’t happen.

Some History of Mental Toughness

The concept of inner strength is not new. Paul G Thomas, in his book Psycho Feedback spoke about a Founding Father – Coué.

“Emile Coué was a French pharmacist who in 1870 became fascinated by the power of the mind and its relationship to health. Around 1880 he opened a free clinic at Nancy and effected many miraculous cures. He was an international celebrity in the 1920s but unfortunately far ahead of his time in USA. We now know that the significance of Emile Coué's work comes across the span of years like a clarion call.

“Coué's greatest insight formalised in his book Self Mastery Through Conscious Auto-suggestion was:
When the imagination and will power are in conflict, are antagonistic, it is always the imagination which wins. This law is as immutable as the law of gravity.
“And the corollary:
When the imagination and will power are harmoniously pulling in the same direction, an irresistible force is the result.”
This corollary is so important and it is the subject of what I teach.

That’s right you can learn to use mental toughness deliberately.

My Definition

My definition is this: “Inner Strength (Mental Toughness) is that deep quality of our mind and spirit that enables us to create opportunities in life or rise above adversity. I'm saying you don't have to go through it to rise above it – you can just tap it. It is an inherent part of our creation (or existence) as beings and it allows us to rise above adversity if and when it strikes.”

So [[First Name:78]], know that Inner Strength and Mental Toughness are the same thing in my language and can be developed and used deliberately. Here are two links one being my 2 Day CALM Seminar and my Life’s Purpose Seminar which are guaranteed to build Mental Toughness.

All the Best

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Sandy MacGregor

Success Stories

Thank you so much for staying with me and remembering my birthday! I will certainly never forget you or the course I did with you in Christchurch those several years ago! I use my Peaceful Place frequently and I have imparted it in brief to students in my schools in times of duress and even to a woman on a plane who had a fear of flying! I go to my PP to meditate every day! At the school where I am working ( I am currently in Dubai, having been teaching in Kuwait and Poland since I last saw you!) I would like to buy your book "Students ....Success" (don't have it with me at the moment to get the correct title!) for the library.
May your life be full of peace and fulfilment
. MM Dubai

I want to add my two bobs worth to the forum on why everyone, and I mean everyone, who applies just the basics of Sandy's techniques has such seemingly fantastic results. 
I have had the book, "Piece of Mind" for a while and want to let you know what can be achieved by using it along with a couple of beautiful relaxing CDs and following Sandy's techniques. I cannot believe the difference in myself and neither can my family.  I abused my body for many years and it started to pay me back.
I weighed 125 Kilograms.
High blood pressure (170/100) for which I was taking tablets.
A type 2 Diabetic on 70 units of insulin a day as well as 3 different tablets.
A busted back for nearly 2 years before they decided to operate and fuse the lower 2 vertebrae. For the pain I was taking heavy pain killers and 90mg of Morphine a day.
After all this, I was on 300mg of Anti-depression medication a day. 
Results now:-
I weigh 92 kilograms, I've released over 30 kilograms in body fat. I now have to wear my teenage son's clothes till I can get smaller clothing for me.
My blood pressure has dropped to (150/90), not enough yet, so there's still some work to be done here. This is without taking any tablets
I don't take any insulin at all now. I take 1 Diabetes tablet a day and the doctor is astounded at the improvement in the control of my diabetes.
I don't take any more pain killers, the pain is automatically controlled by my subconscious with a bit of a dive into my PP when I do something silly.
I stopped the Anti-depressants. This was interesting as my Doctor went off her brain when I told her I was off the anti-depressants but I proved something to her. She goaded me to try and prove a point about why I needed the anti-depressants. As hard as she tried to get me upset, it didn't work, I just dropped into PP for a few seconds then set her straight. Her last words to me on the way out were "What's the name of that book again?"
Now I must admit I cheated a bit. I have done martial arts for many years and meditation is almost a normal part of my life, so meditating is not a problem. The difference? Emotion! Like Sandy says in his book about releasing weight, visualisation alone just will not do it and it's hard work. Once I put the emotion in, my mind just took off on its own with me in hot pursuit. You do have to follows Sandy's techniques for it to work, but once you understand the concept and see the results for yourself it all seems so natural. Such is the ease with which Sandy explains some pretty far out facts and techniques. 
Just a little story on the power of the subconscious.
I was performing a service on an old vehicle I was doing up. I finished the service but no way was it going to start. I had isolated the fault to an electrical problem but I had absolutely no idea what it could be. I went to my PP and invited "Joseph Kettering" into my PP (well what I thought he would look like. He's the bloke who invented the electrical system for the early cars. I 'gave' him the "distributor" and asked him to fix the problem. He 'told' me to give him 5 minutes. I went back out to the car and continued on with the service. I was just wiping something down when a thought popped into my mind and I "KNEW" what was wrong with the electrics. About 30 seconds with a screwdriver and the car was purring like a kitten. and yet 10 minutes before that I was prepared to pour petrol over the whole thing and throw on the Zippo. Astounding!!!
Sandy and Clan, Thank you so much for giving this system to the world, God knows we need it. Kind Regards



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