In today’s fast-paced and demanding world, mental toughness and resilience are crucial qualities for effective leadership. In a time when stress and uncertainty are prevalent, it’s imperative for leaders to empower themselves mentally to navigate challenges and achieve peak performance. Host Scott McCarthy delves deep into the intricacies of mental toughness, sharing insights on how leaders can strengthen their mental resilience and rise above adversity in this solo episode of Peak Performance Leadership.

Timestamped Overview

The following is a timestamped overview of this episode:

  • 05:44 2021 COVID impact, 2022 survey burnout statistics.
  • 07:50 Mental toughness books have been around awhile.
  • 11:09 Facing adversity builds mental toughness through repetition.
  • 16:42 Analyze setbacks and improve with 4 questions.
  • 21:07 Overcoming challenges and building confidence for success.
  • 22:45 Embrace challenges, grow confidence and resilience.
  • 28:24 Adjusting goals and methods, to suit lifestyle.
  • 30:35 Seek challenge, gain accountability with 360 marks.
  • 33:13 Physiological and psychological transformation leads to success.

Mentioned Resources

Here is the photo of Scott’s results from 2021 when he took on the 75 Hard challenge the first time. 

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The following is an AI generated transcript which should be used for reference purposes only. It has not been verified or edited to reflect what was actually said in the podcast episode. 


Scott McCarthy [00:00:00]:
In this episode of the peak performance leadership podcast, we’re gonna be talking with some shocking truths about leadership’s hidden struggle, and that is mental resilience or mental toughness. However you wanna say it, it doesn’t matter because it’s the same thing. Today, we’re gonna be diving into talking with some statistics around mental toughness, mental resilience. We’re talk a bit about Amy Frisella’s take on it and why it matters to you as well as my take on the issues at hand today. And then finally, we’re gonna talk about some game strategy changing strategies, how you can empower yourself to be the toughest mentally resilient leader that you’re meant to be. You’re ready for this 1, folks, because it’s gonna be jam packed. Alright. Let’s do it.

Scott McCarthy [00:01:00]:
Welcome 1. Welcome all to the Peak Performance Leadership podcast, a weekly podcast series dedicated to helping you hit peak performance across the three domains of leadership. Those being leading yourself, leading your team, and leading your organization. This podcast couples my 20 years of military experience as a senior Canadian army officer with world class guests bringing you the most complete podcast on leadership going. And for more, feel free to check out our website at moving forward leadership .com. And with that, let’s get to the show. Yes. Welcome, 1.

Scott McCarthy [00:01:53]:
Welcome, all. It is your chief leadership officer, Scott McCarthy, and thanks for tuning in to The 1st episode of 2024. That’s right. 2024 is here, And I basically been you know what? Taking some downtime, to be honest. Taking some downtime from the show, from the business over awe, but I’m back. I’m charged, and I’m ready to go, which is interesting because it kinda goes hand in hand with today’s episode and talking about mental toughness and mental resilience in leaders. It’s so important in this day and age because so many people out there. And no doubt, maybe you yourself, you’re like, oh my god.

Scott McCarthy [00:02:38]:
I’m so stressed out. I’m so tired. Just so tired. I am stressed out. I just feel like I can’t do anything, etcetera. Guess what? You are not alone, and that’s what we’re going after in today’s episode. And make sure you listen through to the end because I will be making an announcement where Not only can you get help with mental toughness through this announcement, but you can also win something with it. It’s like a 2 for 1 deal.

Scott McCarthy [00:03:16]:
So be sure to stick through to the end and listen into this episode, especially if you find yourself dragging and you find yourself feeling mentally weak and rundown because we’re here to help today. So first off, let’s go and dive into the bad stuff. Right? Let’s Let’s dive in some statistics here. So we got an article in front of me, which is basically an article, smashed together of all kinds of different studies. So I like actual studies because to me, these are just someone’s opinion, but rather actual scientific research. So let’s look at the research for now. In 2021, a work and well-being survey from American psychological association found that 3 in 5 workers, so that’s 60%, report experiencing negative mental and physical impacts due to work related stress. 20 6% noted a lack of interest, motivation, or energy, 32 reported emotional exhaustion, in 44% noted high levels of physical fatigue.

Scott McCarthy [00:04:38]:
So that’s 1. Let’s keep it going. Indeed, that’s the big recruiting company, staffing company, real that more than half of the workers reported felt feeling burnt out, disconnect between various age groups, and then, while only 31% of baby boomers only identify as feeling burnt out, 59% of millennials fell reported as being burnt out and 58% of generation are Gen z’s. So some interesting stats there. Dilaudid, the big pharmaceutical and medical company reported that 77% experience burnt out from their current job. In 2021, a mental health UK k study revealed that 46% workers felt prone to extreme levels of stress compared to the year before. Okay. Let’s keep in mind 2021.

Scott McCarthy [00:05:44]:
Now my immediate counterargument to that was that 2021 was the thick of COVID that definitely would have had some impacts because 2020 was really the kickoff. I feel like 2021, we were, like, in thick of it, and then 2022, we’re coming out of it. So gonna take that one with a little bit of grain of salt. However, a 2022 survey, 15,000 workers across 15 different countries by McKinsey Health found that 25% of employees experience burnt out. And then finally, last stat I will throw at you because your eyes are probably glossing over now, is that 76% of respondents in a Mental Health America in flex jobs study agreed that workplace stress affects their mental health, and 75% experience burnout. So The moral of the story is those are some pretty extreme numbers. Right? Those are high numbers, and this is why mental toughness is so important because you don’t want to be one of those members of the extreme numbers. You want to be in the minority.

Scott McCarthy [00:07:04]:
And the fact is what we want to do is flip those numbers on their head. We want the minority to be the ones who are experiencing the burnout, the mental strain, and threats and all this stuff. And meanwhile, everyone else is still able to cope a deal and get on with whatever it is they need to get on with. So that’s why this podcast episode so important. Now I had to listen quite some time ago. You know, this is not let me let me rephrase this. This is not a new topic. This has been discussed for years now.

Scott McCarthy [00:07:50]:
At least, I would say, 4 or 5 years now. Mental toughness, it’s it’s been around for quite some time. Heck, there are, like, dozens of books written on just that. You got David Goggins, for example, talking about it in his various books. K? You got former Navy Seals, Mark Devine, former guest of the show, talking about, mental toughness. You have, all kinds of different, you know, authors of, psychologists that are writing on this. So from all the stories, if you go ahead, you hit Google and use the books mental toughness, like, You’re gonna find a dozen books on it. In fact, positive has a list of 14 different books of which what they believe to be the best ones.

Scott McCarthy [00:08:52]:
So developing resilience by Michael Neehan, resilience, a practical guide by Carol Pemberton, resilience by John, by a group of authors. It keeps going, Angela. The resilience club, Goggins, Ross, Egley, and so on. I’m not gonna go through the list of the 14, but you get the point. So the moral of the story is is that there are plenty of things written on it by various people. Now quite some time ago, Andy Frisilla had a podcast episode talking about the state of affairs, and mental toughness. And his basically premise was that we as a society are getting weak. So he subscribes to the ology.

Scott McCarthy [00:09:54]:
And, for the ladies listening, please, this is not my words, but rather basically a saying that’s been around for a while, but take it Take it with a grain of salt, please. And that is strong men make good times. Good times make weak men. Weak men make hard times. Hard times make strong men. So what they’re getting at is that because We have so much comfort in this day and age in 2023 with everything at our fingertips. You want a pizza? It’s here in 20 minutes. You want to order up anything, Amazon’s got it for you next day delivery.

Scott McCarthy [00:10:35]:
Heck. You might be able to have it within the hour of a drone dropping it off. You Wanna get a coffee, fancy coffee, you go through the drive through. Right? The moral of the story is we have everything at our fingertips. And what he’s talking is that nothing is actually difficult anymore. And because of it, were getting soft, and when we’re faced with adversity, people are crumbling. And part of me has to agree with what he has to say. And the other part, you know, I’m not too a 100% sure.

Scott McCarthy [00:11:09]:
Not a 100% But I do kinda agree with the fact that mental toughness does come out from facing an appropriate amount of adversity on a consistent spaces. So if it’s difficult for you to do something, then as you do it more and more, it gets easier. So for example, if you have a hard time speaking publicly, the only way to should get over that is to speak publicly. And that is the adversity. Speaking publicly, so therefore, you turn around and face the adversity by doing more of it, and you actually go and grow towards it. Okay? So that is kinda what I think, and that’s where eye kinda way. Andy’s position is a bit extreme to that, and he’s basically calling out society as a whole for being weak that we can’t do anything anymore. As soon as someone faces some kind of adversity, we crumble.

Scott McCarthy [00:12:30]:
If we get too cold, we turn up the heat. We get too hot, we put on the air conditioning, etcetera. These are Andy’s arguments towards it. So it’s interesting. Really is interesting. But end of the day, you can talk about Andy’s point of view, but, like, we have to get on with it. So What are the different aspects to mental toughness? And essentially there are 4 agreed upon components. And they’re confidence, control, commitment, and challenge.

Scott McCarthy [00:13:19]:
Alright. So let’s dive into them, shall we? So the first one, control. Control is that, basically, In order to be mentally tough, you have to understand a master control. And control is your ability to regulate your emotions, thoughts, actions even in challenging situations. So a lot of this comes out of self awareness. A lot of this comes out of emotional intelligence, understanding, okay, and self regulation. So a person who essentially fires from the hip immediately whenever they’re faced with some adversity, I. E.

Scott McCarthy [00:14:07]:
Loses it, blows up, etcetera, is actually not mentally tough despite showing the facade of someone who’s mentally tough. On the other side of that spectrum. Obviously, the person who goes over in the corner and starts hugging themselves, you know, hugging their knees and rocking back and fourth in the corner is obviously not mentally tough neither. You need to be able to regulate your emotions, your thoughts, and then as well as your actions. You can’t quote unquote lose it. You have to keep your composure. So some ways to do that is through tactical breathing as Mark Devine has taught on this podcast a couple times where you breathe in for 4, hold it for 4, breathe out for 4, hold for 4 and carry on. Okay? And you do that for a few minutes, and that will actually calm down your nervous system.

Scott McCarthy [00:15:13]:
Okay? So that is one way to maintain control. I talk about having the condor moment, I e, just taking a moment, realizing the situation, what it is, not jumping directly into action, but taking a step back, assessing, bringing yourself to ground. Okay? And then finally, start thinking about what actions need to be done. That is another practical way to exercise control. And as leaders, We need to exercise control because it’s important for what our decision making. We as leaders need to make decisions. In order to make decisions in challenging times, you have to be mentally resilient. You have to be mentally tough to take those decisions on.

Scott McCarthy [00:16:08]:
So control. The next component of mental toughness is commitment. Okay. Commitment is the fuel that propels mental toughness forward. Alright? If controls the start. Commitment is basically the accelerator. Gets you going. It is your unwavering dedication to goals despite obstacles or setbacks.

Scott McCarthy [00:16:42]:
How many times have you said, I’m going to do something, and then you have a setback for that for that goal, and you go, see? I knew I couldn’t do it. That is not mentally tough. The thing you need to do is actually go, okay. What went wrong, what went right, how can I do it better so this problem doesn’t occur next time? I’ve talked about this many times on the podcast, and it’s referring to the after action review model, I e, asking yourself 4 questions. What went wrong? Sorry. What went right? What went wrong? How can we make sure we, fix the mistakes, and then how might we do it better in the future? Ask yourself those 4 questions, and what that’s going to do is set you up with basically the steps and give you the guidance to overcome whatever obstacle you faced in the past. And no matter what, you stick to it. And as you stick to it, the commitment actually becomes part of your mental toughness because you’re not giving up.

Scott McCarthy [00:18:10]:
Much like those ultramarathon runners that run 200 through 250 kilometers in a race. They are committed to it, and they keep going. So that’s commitment. The next component to mental toughness is the core of it, and that is challenge. Again, it goes back to what Andy talked about. This is where Andy and I actually see eye to eye in that many things in life right now, we’ve made it easy for ourselves. So when there’s no challenge, things get easy, we get we do get a bit weaker, and we don’t we become less able to cope with adversity. Challenges are actually opportunities for growth and learning, yet we’ve seen to have developed a culture where we run away from challenges, is when we should be running towards them.

Scott McCarthy [00:19:13]:
The people who are excelling in the world right now are not those who are running away from challenges, but rather those who are running towards the challenges to make ironically these comforts that we speak negatively about. It’s interesting. It’s quite a paradox, isn’t it? You know, you think of the and the Bezos’s of the world. Right? Jeff Bezos made Amazon. It was a huge challenge for him. He had to stick it out forever. But then out of his garage, he created Amazon to which became what it is today. A company that delivers us basically anything we want within 24 hours to your doorstep.

Scott McCarthy [00:20:04]:
That provides the comfort, but he wouldn’t have grown. He wouldn’t became mentally resilient if he didn’t have that challenge in the 1st place. If he had all this comfort and then he decided one day he was going to make Amazon, he likely would have failed because there was no challenge leading up building up towards it. Much like Elon Musk when he was trying to get SpaceX up and running, and they were having failure after failure. Right? These challenges were the things that kept them going and embracing it. He embraced the failures and learned from them. And the fact is he talked about on an episode podcast episode where they only had enough money left to launch their last rocket. If that rocket failed.

Scott McCarthy [00:21:07]:
They would have, crumbled as a company. You wanna talk about stress? We’re talking about 1,000,000 of dollars on the line, 100 of people’s jobs, and most importantly, the dream about privately being able to go out in outer space. But sure as heck, They launched that rocket. It was a success because they learned from it, and they were able to achieve success. So you need to go ahead and basically adopt a challenge mindset where you’re going after and looking for these challenges and slowly building them up a little bit harder, a little bit harder, a little bit harder, more and more so that they don’t seem to be so high or such a big cliff that scares the crap out of you and go, oh, I can’t do this. I give up. But rather, they’re basically incremental challenges that add up to become bigger challenges throughout and going after them and basically sticking to them as in committing to it. And then finally, the last c of mental toughness is confidence.

Scott McCarthy [00:22:22]:
You have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that you can overcome this. You have to have this unwavering belief in yourself. No matter what. You can do it. Why? Because I believe in you too, and I know you can go after anything. Because you’re here, you’re listening to this podcast that tells me you want more. You want to develop yourself as a leader.

Scott McCarthy [00:22:45]:
You wanna get after it. And you have the control looping back to the first one, and you need to commit to being confident and challenging yourself with putting yourself in different situations where you can grow your confidence in yourself and becoming the best leader you’re meant to be. And with that, I now have a challenge for you to develop your mental toughness, your mental resilience. And going back to what I talked about earlier where I said there’s some things I agree with with Andy, and there’s some things where I don’t agree with Andy. I do like the challenge that he developed, and that is the 75 hard challenge, a challenge that I took on a number of years ago. And guess what? I’ll fully tell you. I failed it my first time. But you know what? Did I sit there, moan, cry about it? No.

Scott McCarthy [00:23:50]:
I kept going. I still completed the 75 days despite knowing every day after I had missed one of the tasks core tasks I had to do, knowing that it actually failed. I still went in every day acting, challenging myself as if I had not. That was the commitment, and the results will speak for themselves. The 75 hard challenge is many people believe a to be a physical challenge, but it’s not a it’s a mental resilience, a mental toughness challenge. And myself, and members of the leader growth mastermind are taking this on this year. In just less than 2 weeks, we’re going after it. 22nd January 2024, we are taking on the 75 hard challenge.

Scott McCarthy [00:24:44]:
Now That being said, there are some options. Because, literally, it does scare the crap out of some people. Remember what I talked about earlier how it needs to be a bit incremental. Right? So if it scares the crap out of you, good. But at the same time, if it scares the crap out of you where you go, I’m not doing that. Well, okay. We need to have a conversation here. So what I’ve developed for our mental resilience challenge are 3 different tiers.

Scott McCarthy [00:25:16]:
Tier one, simple. You stick to the 75 hard challenge as it was meant to be done. And you’re wondering, what the heck is it anyway? What is this challenge? For 75 days straight you are to complete 6 tasks. Task 1, take a progress picture. Task 2, read 10 pages of a self help book. No. You can’t listen to an audiobook. No.

Scott McCarthy [00:25:41]:
You can’t listen to some or read some kind of nonfiction book, some love romance novel or something like that. Okay? It has to be some kind of self help book that you read. So that’s 1. That’s 2. Step, task 3, pick a meal plan, stick to it. Doesn’t matter what it is. It could be keto. It could be, Atkins, whatever, pick a meal plan, and stick to it.

Scott McCarthy [00:26:08]:
Okay? You can even develop your own saying, I’m gonna have, 3 main meals a day with no seconds and 2 healthy snacks today. K. Great. That works. Just carry on. Task 4 is to complete 2 45 minute workouts per day. Now that being said, how do you define a 45 minute workout? Right? Doing yoga is definitely a workout. Walking is a workout.

Scott McCarthy [00:26:35]:
Lifting weights is a workout. Running, of course, is a workout. You get the point. It’s not necessarily having to be in the gym crushing it for 45 minutes twice a day, but rather doing some kind of exercise that gets your body moving twice a day. And by the way, yes, you cannot stack them. Alright? You can’t stack them. That have to be separated. The next challenge, the 5th task you have to complete every day, it’s no alcohol.

Scott McCarthy [00:27:09]:
That’s right. No drinking whatsoever. Alright? You can’t have alcohol. And for some people, That’s not a big deal. They generally just stick away from it anyway. But from others, that can be a difficult thing. Right? Lots of people out there enjoy just having a drink with dinner. I myself enjoy having, a few pints of beer on the weekend.

Scott McCarthy [00:27:36]:
Not nothing too crazy, but you have to stick away. And then the final task, which honestly for me is the most difficult one, and that is drink a gallon of water a day, which is actually the double recommended amount of daily water intake. Okay? So progress picture, 10 pages of a book, 2 45 minute workouts, meal plan without cheating, water gallon of water, and no alcohol. That is tier 1. You stick to the challenge as it was meant to be done. Tier 2 is where you can modify. And allowing people to modify it. Right? Again, it’s that whole thing of holy crap.

Scott McCarthy [00:28:24]:
Alright, to the point where it scares you, then maybe you need to lessen it a bit. So the tier 2 enables you to achieve that, but at the same time, going after the core tense of the challenge plus developing your mental toughness. So the things that you can change is progress picture. Maybe you don’t wanna do a progress picture, but rather you would like to change it for a activity photo. That’s cool. We can accept that. The 2 45 minute workouts. Okay? So you might be able to change it to maybe you wanna do, to 30 minute workouts because you actually don’t train that much at all right now, or you want to be able to stack actually stack them together because due to your life situation, your family commitments.

Scott McCarthy [00:29:15]:
You don’t wanna be a delinquent parent or get fired from your job. Therefore, you must stack them together, or maybe it’s, 2 30 minute workouts instead. Again, the moral of the story is here, not to make your life worse, but make it better. If you feel you need to do that, cool. We’ll go on with that. And then finally, the, the last thing that you can change with the tier 2 is the gallon of water. So for some people, that is the extreme amount that actually, if you drink too much water, actually can be not healthy for you. So if you’re like a a petite person, gallon water can actually be not healthy for you.

Scott McCarthy [00:29:52]:
So I actually have no issues with it. But, Well, I do have issues with drinking. Just simply drinking that much water, but it doesn’t affect me per se. And then finally, the final tier is what I refer to as the sampler tier. So what you’re going to do is you’re going to take the tier 2 rules and then assign a certain percentage of completion to it. So if you were to complete all 6 tasks for 75 days straight, that makes it 450, basically, task completer. Let’s call them check marks for the simple sakes. Now if you say I want to achieve 80% compliance over the 75 days.

Scott McCarthy [00:30:35]:
Instead of 450 check marks, you get 360 check marks. That’s what you’re going after. So if you’re the type of person who has never challenged yourself ever before and you’re scared to death, but at the same time, you’re interested and you wanna do something and you feel like you need to do something. This is a great starter here for you here just for you to get a taste of what it is to challenge yourself in this type of manner because so many people out there simply don’t. Right? They don’t do it. And then you probably wonder what you get out of it. Right? So you sign up for this. What do you get out of it? Well, the first and most important thing is you’re gonna get an accountability partner.

Scott McCarthy [00:31:21]:
Someone to be there by your side day in, day someone for you to check-in on, someone to check-in on you. Accountability partner me instantly means about 60% more chance for success. We’re gonna develop a specific challenge section within my platform for the leader growth mastermind so that we are completely focused there within that. As well, We are going to set you up for success not just at day 75, but day 76 and day 81 and so on. So there’s gonna be a program set up to kinda wean you off because you can’t go from 0 to 100 and back down to 0 again. That is not going to achieve that long lasting success. And then next is rewards. You complete the challenge.

Scott McCarthy [00:32:21]:
Everyone who completes the challenge gets a reward, the members of of the mastermind. So the higher tier level, the bigger, Alright? So just keep that in mind. A little something to say congratulations. And then the most important thing you will get is a sense of accomplishment like never before. 75 days is long. You’re gonna hate it in the middle of it. You’re gonna curse me, but you’ll want to stick it out. And once you do, just like I did, regardless, even though I failed, you’ll have this sense of pride, alright, when you get it done.

Scott McCarthy [00:33:13]:
And if you check out the show notes for this by going to lead.comforward/283. You’ll see a comparison photo, the physiological comparison photo of myself from the last time I did this in 2021. So 3 years ago now. Alright. You’ll see the side by side where I dropped almost 20 pounds and basically over 13% body fat from my body, but that was just a physiological one. The psychological change led to the development of the leader growth mastermind and its execution, its birth. That was the psychological me believing in myself and doing the research and knowing that despite me being a military officer, by day. I can run a business at night, and here we are.

Scott McCarthy [00:34:11]:
So that’s what you get out of it. If you’re interested, You’re ready to take that jump. You want to challenge yourself and develop your mental toughness. Now is the time. So how do you do it? You need to be a part of the leader growth mastermind. You have to sign up to the mastermind in order to get all this support you can do to challenge yourself. But in order to get all the support and all the things that I and going to value you have to be part of the mastermind. Alright? In order to do so, just go to lead.comforward/mastermind and sign up from there.

Scott McCarthy [00:34:53]:
Or simply just fire me an email,, and I will gladly guide you through. But the world’s story is this, is that it’s time. Now is the time for you to challenge yourself, push yourself and achieve the greatness you are meant to achieve, and this will definitely help you do so. So with that, are you ready for it? I can’t wait to see you there. Until next time, ladies and gentlemen. Lead And that’s a wrap for this episode, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening. Thank you for supporting the peak performance leadership podcast.

Scott McCarthy [00:35:41]:
But you know what you could do to truly support the podcast and know that’s not leaving a rating and review. It’s simply helping a friend, and that is helping a friend by sharing this episode with them if you think this would resonate with them and help them elevate their performance level, whether that’s within themselves, their teams, or their organization. So do that. Help me, help a friend, win win all around, and, hey, you look like a great friend at the same time. So just hit that little share button on your app, and then feel free to fire this episode to anyone that you feel would benefit from it. Finally, there’s always more. There’s always more lessons around being the highest performing leader that you can possibly be, whether that’s for yourself, your team, or your organization. So why don’t you subscribe? Subscribe to the show via moving forward leadership .comforward/subscribe.

Scott McCarthy [00:36:42]:
Until next time, lead. Don’t boss, aim. Thanks for coming out. Take care now.