The 1% Podcast

Lorna Lawless

  • 01

    Lorna Lawless

    Positive Psychology to Achieve Mental and Emotional Toughness


My guest today is Lorna Lawless.


Lorna Lawless is a coaching psychologist with over 10 years corporate coaching experience. She manages her own coaching business, Next Level Coaching. Lorna has a passion for positive psychology, specialising in emotional intelligence, mental toughness and flow state. She helps her clients focus on their strengths in order to achieve more. Lorna has presented her research on emotional intelligence and work-related stress at international conferences. She has worked with an array of people including John Kavanagh, Irish MMA coach, who has coached the likes of Conor McGregor and Gunnar Nelson.


Show Summary


03:37 Lorna’s ambition to run her own business

  • Inspired by her father’s self-employment
  • It’s enabled her to work in a niche area


04:53 What drew Lorna to psychology

  • She is a natural listener
  • A desire to have a career that involves working with people


05:44 The difference between a coaching psychologist and a traditional psychologist

  • Coaching psychology is very future-oriented and for the non-clinical population


07:16 Successes from coaching psychology

  • Identifying the barrier that stops people from achieving their goals
  • “The person has the answer within themselves”
  • Sustainable change comes from small incremental changes


10:28 The key elements of high performance psychology

  • Mental toughness
  • Being able to handle stress and to see the growth opportunities 
  • Focus on your strengths to boost your motivation


13:07 The impact of coaching remotely

  • Easier for one-to-one coaching sessions
  • It is difficult to maintain the right energy for team sessions


15:47 What makes a high performing team?

  • Communication is key
  • The need for psychological safety
  • Have compassion towards yourself and others


20:56 The components of lasting, sustainable change

  • We fall back into old habits if we don’t tell the right story to ourselves
  • Develop self-awareness
  • Be willing to change


23:01 The definition of mental toughness

  • It’s a personality trait
  • We are 50% nature and 50% nurture
  • Identify where the person’s fear is coming from, and what needs to change in order to move forward
  • The power of visualisation


35:46 Box breathing

  • Inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds
  • It calms the fight or flight response and engages with the parasympathetic nervous system
  • Helps you to think clearly in the moment
  • The Navy SEALs use it


37:15 The comfort zone

  • Mental toughness is a spectrum
  • The opposite of mental toughness is mental sensitivity


39:56 Common insights from psychometric testing

  • Mental Toughness Questionnaire
  • “Any psychometric test is the beginning of a conversation”
  • Use the results as a way to evaluate your development through a coaching program


43:43 Coaching on the Wimp2Warrior program

  • It’s Mixed Martial Arts-based transformational program
  • You train five mornings a week for 20 weeks
  • It’s a physical and mental transformation


48:08 How Mixed Martial Arts is great for the mind

  • It helps you let go of the ego
  • It makes you embrace vulnerability, which is where growth comes from
  • Lorna trains in jiu-jitsu


50:57 The power of positive self-talk

  • Practise ‘catching’ your negative self-talk
  • Become aware of any themes
  • Practise saying “I can” instead of “I can’t”
  • It’s very difficult to practise positive self-talk at the start, but trust the process


58:34 Lessons from sport that can be brought into the workplace

  • Athletes embrace vulnerability
  • “Anyone can be a great winner, but it’s about what makes you a great loser”
  • Engage in regular reflection


01:01:41 Lorna’s interest in the Flow State

  • The idea that psychological fulfilment comes from a balance of positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishments
  • It’s a state that can be coached
  • It’s powerful to learn the different states for the flow state, and that it starts from a challenge
  • There are 19 known environmental conditions that contribute towards the flow state 
  • The state sits at the heart between confidence and anxiety


01:11:00 Popular coaching psychology questions Lorna asks her clients

  • “What would that look like?”


01:18:33 The impact of the pandemic and people working from home

  • It’s hard to maintain the flow state when you’re at home with the family
  • Lorna encouraged clients to be creative about getting into their flow state during lockdown and isolation


01:21:15 The ‘negative’ flow state

  • Interesting research by Steven Kotler
  • The dark sideof the flow state is that it can become an addictive habit


01:22:47The definition of emotional intelligence

  • It’s “your ability to understand and manage your emotions and the emotions of others”
  • In practice, it means you don’t get hijacked by your emotions


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