Mental Toughness and How It Applies to Aviation

Question, what is mental toughness and why do I mention it?

To answer this, let me ask you a question. Have you ever been nervous when faced with having to prepare to take a test in school, or when performing in a particularly stressful situation, like speaking/presenting to a group, or being on stage? Sort of like the way athletes have to perform when competing in sports? If so, then mental toughness training can give you the mental tools to be better able to prepare for this, so as to ‘gain the edge’ and be able to perform better when in a high stress situation.

Mental toughness in aviation

Flying airplanes and flight training, a system of ‘checking’ or evaluating pilots has evolved over many decades, dating back to WWII, and is in place, in order to see if a pilot ‘meets the standard’, or certification criteria, required to pass the test and earn a pilot’s license. Does one fly well enough (demonstrate proficiency) to earn a desired pilot rating or certificate? This is true for both recreational and professional pilots. But like many things in life, when one desires to move up the ladder from the amateur (for fun) level to the professional level, more is expected. The pressure to ‘perform’ is there. The stakes are higher. A job and a paycheck depend on this. Thus, mental toughness training.

Personally speaking

I have personally dealt with this in my own career. Many years ago, when going through training for my first job as an airline pilot, I encountered very high stress situation that I had not encountered previously in flying. One of the airline’s instructors and check pilots was very intimidating. His style was like that of a military drill sergeant. Lots of shouting and screaming. It quickly became an ordeal. I was totally stressed out and barely got through the training. Some did better than others. In this situation, looking back on it, mental toughness training would have given me the edge, and would have better prepared me to meet the challenge.

A few years ago, I had the good fortune to learn about Mr. Steve Siebold, who was himself a high school athlete, playing competitive tennis. As he rose through the ranks of tennis players, he discovered that some players were able to compete better than others, and thus rise to the top. Steve was not able to do this. What gave others the edge? After studying this, Steve realized it was ‘mental toughness’ as he calls it. He has now built up a successful speaking and coaching business, primarily dealing with executives and sales professionals, with a training program he has created, addressing mental toughness. He is also a professional speaker and delivers key note speeches to Fortune 500 companies. His topic? Mental Toughness.

To learn more about this, and see how mental toughness can help you in high stress situations, click on the link.