Control and confidence

It is also the case that in promoting social mobility careers professionals realise the importance of overcoming a range of limiting factors. These range from individual to individual, but often appear for whole groups of individuals, whether through stereotypes in the case of gender, race, social class, or lack of positive extended family role models. Thus, when identifying opportunities individuals must be helped to overcome artificial or imposed boundaries, this will only be achieved if they are equipped to see the opportunity behind the challenge and deal with it. In moving into new areas of experience, whether this may be a woman choosing a job in a male dominated profession or workplace, or a young person from a family background of no university or professional experience choosing a career in medicine or law, the stakes will be high. The fear of failure can be daunting if not overwhelming and the lack of an informed support structure heightens the anxiety.

In such cases MTQ48 can be used to build a more positive mindset that enables individuals to go beyond their norms and to develop the confidence and resources to explore careers which are outside of their immediate considerations and which may not feature in their education, both formally through school influences and less formally through family and friendship perceptions and experiences. Stepping outside of the norm is not easy, young people are more likely to conform to
self or externally imposed norms, even to the point of conforming by choosing options that their immediate friendship groups choose. The element of control is important in the choices we make, people will make life choices they are either comfortable with or where they believe they can exercise sufficient control to be able to be successful through the choice they make. For individuals to step outside of imposed norms they must feel able to take or maintain control of the situation.

The MTQ48 test measures the degree of “control” an individual possesses in their make up. This is broken down into “life control”, the ability to take control of their circumstances, and “emotional control”, the ability to manage or control their emotions, particularly when faced with a seemingly threatening situation. The act of measurement itself is illustrative of an individual's strengths, and hence can reinforce them. Where there are weaknesses, assessment identifies these through lower scores, and can help clarify where support is needed. The careers adviser or “trusted adult” will interpret the MTQ48 results and work with the individual to determine those strategies that suit best in enhancing control and provide exercises designed to achieve this, which can be practiced over time. Although not a causal relationship, higher levels of control are correlated with higher levels of self-confidence.

All of these inner capacities that make up mental toughness— commitment and challenge, control and confidence are linked to increased performance and achievement. The use of the MTQ48, as an assessment and development programme, has demonstrated positive changes in the levels of mental toughness for the majority of individuals who have used it. This is verified by re-testing individuals after applying interventions designed to address levels of commitment, challenge, control and confidence. This is particularly valuable when addressing external deficits for individuals. It is the case that young people from higher socioeconomic groups generally have a more positive outlook and belief in their ability to achieve and succeed as the research by the Prince's Trust, RBS and YouGov attests. It is more common for people from advantaged backgrounds to have a “good” support network which they are more likely to draw upon seeking to succeed.

Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds often lack the lack the social and cultural capital, the business contacts, and the financial means that set more affluent young people on a positive trajectory in life, which insulate them in the face of adversity and set back. For young people without these insulating factors, inner capacities of mental toughness,
resilience, and strength of character are arguably even more important in helping them get on and get ahead.

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