Basic principles to build a mentally resilient team in 6 months’ time

There is a weird thing going on when people master a new skill or become familiar with a new position. They tend to stay there.

From the moment I started training people, I became intrigued by this tendency of most individuals to comply for their current state. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, as long as it’s a conscious choice. Unfortunately, in most cases, it isn’t. I see this inclination to settle as a flaw in human nature—one that is testing our mental resilience.

Why is that?

Our bodies and brains exhibit remarkable adaptability, allowing us to navigate all kinds of situations and respond adequately to external influences. However, over time, most people settle into a routine and establish a steady state. Whether it is during the initial months of a new job, after the first gym workouts, or the first experiences in an unfamiliar sport, this pattern repeats itself. It is our human nature, aiming to preserve stability. The idea is to create a save mode: ‘Stay where you are, and nothing can go wrong.’ Unfortunately, by doing so, our mental resilience remains unchallenged and tends to diminish over time. As a result, only a small minority of people reach their full potential.

Once I understood this principle, that personal growth lies beyond the natural inclination to seek comfort, I deliberately sought discomfort in my training methods. My goal was to enable participants to tap into their full potential. By combining this approach with emotional challenges like making errors, and failures, I observed significant shifts in people’s behaviour and attitudes toward learning new skills. This approach is effective both on an individual level as within a team.

So, the question was: how can we consistently expose team members to uncomfortable circumstances in order to help teams reach their full potential? I found the first stage is focusing on challenging responsibilities—an essential aspect of teamwork. From then on there were three more stages to complete the cycle. I’ve developed a model to build mental resilience step by step. Now, let’s examine the first part of this circular process.

At Stage 1, marking the beginning of a role or function, there are three distinct sections that deal with responsibility. Within each section, a mental battle unfolds between human flaws and mental resilience. In order to find out how to bring a team in a discomfortable stage, I first needed to summarise the flaws within each section.


These are the flaws of human nature you have to deal with:

  • Most people enjoy talking about other people, which (in many cases) distracts them from their own responsibilities.
  • Most people tend to find external reasons for not doing well (enough), by which they dismiss their own responsibility.
  • Countless people keep a mental score, comparing their actions to those of others. As long as they are doing okay, related to the scores of others, it’s fine for them. Most people obviously don’t like to be a show off or work with one.

Emotional responsibility

These are the flaws of human nature you have to deal with:

  • Most people avoid isolating themselves from the group to receive attention. They don’t like being in the spotlights and they get insecure or fearful by doing so.
  • People often seek an outside cause for their own emotions, instead of taking full responsibility.


These are the flaws of human nature you have to deal with:

  • Many people appreciate acknowledgment and instant rewards for their contributions to the team or department. It makes them feel secure.
  • Many people avoid taking full responsibility for their mistakes. So, they like to share their responsibility with other team members, especially during challenging times.

I assume that these natural flaws are very recognisable for most of you. The next step was to find out how to create discomfort in a business environment and thereby enhance the mental resilience of the team members.

So, I started to experiment with organisational and cultural changes. This is what you can do too:

  • Create solo-work for every team member for at least 25 percent of their time. Constantly create isolated situations to practise being alone and therefore being responsible for their own input. For example: giving presentations, lead share knowledge meetings, introductions of new team members, etc.
  • Create a competitive culture in which people like to compete with themselves and guide this in a respectful way.
  • Organise unexpected program chances. Combine activities with moments of celebrations.
  • Organise quarterly meetings in which every team is responsible for organizing a meeting.
  • Buddy -up. Work in small, mobile teams  up to four team members. Goals are set. Every quarter teams are mixed up again. Team and personal responsibilities are clear. Small teams need to move fast, so they create mental resilience.
  • Change roles and functions within every eighteen months.
  • Create a common social mental language around mindset, mistakes, failure, personal growth and fear.
  • Don’t allow meetings to last longer than half an hour.  
  • Mistakes are allowed, but are cared for by the ‘owner’ until it’s solved.

I applied this list in the organizations I coached and to my surprise, it worked every time. People experienced increased pressure, made more mistakes, gained energy, and developed mental resilience over time. During training on these fundamentals, organizations disrupted their established patterns, and the issue of responsibility almost never arose again.

What’s the benefit of a mental resilient team?

  1. Reduced Absenteeism: Teams with strong mental resilience have lower sickness rates.
  2. Accelerated Results: After reorganization, these teams can double their results within a year.
  3. Agile Adaptation: They embrace failure as an opportunity for growth and adapt quickly to change.
  4. Attractiveness: Their resilience makes them appealing to newly hired team members.

Discover your mental resilience! Take the ten-minute Mental Resilience Test (RQ/VQ test) at

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