“My Mental Toughness Manifesto” – The Talk

I recently spoke at the fantastic AGN 2018 conference in Graz, Austria. My talk was a slightly modified version of “My Mental Toughness Manifesto” presentation.

The talk was live streamed, and a youtube video has since been uploaded (see above).

It’s been quite a journey getting to this point. The blog posts, podcasts and talks I’ve given about my experience working in Khayelitsha have become a huge part of my career, and I owe Sa’ad Lahri and his team an enormous debt. It will always be the most important professional experience of my life.

It started off with this blog post covering my initial reflections on the experience.

That led to an invite to speak at ICEM 2016, where I delivered the first iteration of the talk which has evolved into “My Mental Toughness Manifesto”. The original title was “Lessons From the Western Cape”. Professor Simon Carley was in the audience, and we recorded this podcast after I spoke that day.

That podcast led to a follow up guest blog post for St.Emlyn’s – “An Englishman in South Africa” – which I’m proud to say is one of their most popular posts to date.

Since that St.Emlyn’s post dropped things have escalated somewhat. I have now spoken on the topic of performance psychology all over the UK to a wide range of audiences including foundation and core trainees, GPs, anaesthetists, military medics, prehospital docs, Hospital Grand Rounds and senior educators at Health Education England. I’ve also spoken at international EM conferences in South Africa, Germany, Denmark and now Austria.

My proudest achievement is delivering an extended version of “My Mental Toughness Manifesto” at the International Special Training Centre in Pfullendorf, Germany, to a group of Special Operations soldiers from nations across NATO. The guys I spoke to were all training to be Combat Medics. I first went over in January 2017, and was honoured to be invited back earlier this year. That experience prompted me to write four accompanying EMJ blog posts:

“My Mental Toughness Manifesto” Part 1: Cognitive Appraisals

“My Mental Toughness Manifesto” Part 2: PRACTICE

“My Mental Toughness Manifesto” Part 3: PERFORM

“My Mental Toughness Manifesto” Part 4: PROCESS

This journey will continue. I will always be a student of performance optimisation and acute stress management in the context of delivering acute healthcare. The content of my blogging will keep mirroring those interests in the years to come.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have helped me get to a point in my career where I am being invited to speak regularly on a topic I am truly passionate about. To have my session at in Graz live streamed (AND live translated in German!) was a huge bonus. In particular I’d like to thank Simon Orlobb for the invitation to speak in Graz, my mentor Simon Carley, and of course Sa’ad and the team at Khaye. I should also mention James Kingston and Jocko Willink as their incredible work is featured in the talk.

Exciting times.


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