4 Reliable Approaches To Persuade Others

January 16th, 2017 by LaRae Quy

As an FBI counterintelligence agent, I frequently needed to persuade others that it was in their best interests to cooperate with the FBI. My job was to recruit the spy to work for the U.S.

In essence, I asked them to betray their country. Needless to say, I took copious notes when this topic was taught at the FBI Academy.

When we persuade others, we are appealing to their logic or emotions, not trying to prove them wrong; instead, we are trying to open their mind up to something new or different.

As a leader, entrepreneur, or business owner, you are looking to recruit employees, customers, or investors to buy into your solution or idea. To be successful, you need more than a title or position to persuade others to accept your agenda.

Much like recruiting foreign spies to work with the U.S. Government, persuasion is more of an art than a science. There is no one equation that will produce predictable results because people are unique.

Nonetheless, here are 4 reliable approaches to persuade others:

1. START WITH OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS

The first step in any recruitment process is to ask open-ended questions of the person you aim to recruit so you gain a better perspective of their thought process. Otherwise, you have no idea of what truly matters to them or what will push their emotional panic button.

Asking open-ended questions encourages people to give you long form answers instead of simple Yes or No response. And this is where the buy-in begins—rather than being told what to do, they are providing at least part of the solution.

You may already know the answer you need—without input from others. But just by asking their opinion, you give people a sense of ownership of where the idea is going.

Tip: Ask the right kind of questions so the answers help people to persuade themselves to come around to your way of thinking.

2. FOLLOW UP WITH SMALL STEPS

If I walked up to a spy and simply asked them to work for the FBI, a huge barrier would instantly spring up between us. Small steps were the secret sauce I used because each step was so small that the spies were not alerted to the changes in their environment. The best way to persuade others is by presenting a message that is gradual, intentional, consistent, and not intimidating.

Small steps does not mean you move slowly—you can still move very quickly, but by taking small steps instead of giant leaps when you’re trying to persuade others, you have time to gage emotional reactions before you press forward.

Slower moves can also be smarter ones because they give you the opportunity to take the problem by the “soft handle”—by the approach that is easiest to grasp as you’re looking right at it. This allows you to reduce the element of uncertainty as much as possible.

Tip: Recruitment and persuasion follow the same principles as a seduction. Take the time to interpret what is going on with the other person. Remember, you are looking for ways to appeal to their logic or emotions.

3. MAINTAIN A NIMBLE MINDSET

Arrest plans follow a set protocol and can be adapted to almost every situation; however, the plan is always flexible enough to be changed or tweaked if needed as new information becomes available.

Objections to your idea may be unavoidable, but your approach to them can be strategic if you continually re-evaluate your situation so you can change your game plan.

To persuade others, you want them to be able to answer this question: What’s in it for me? You’ve asked the open-ended questions and followed up with small steps, but the answer to this question is the great unknown. You may think you know what the answer will be, but be prepared to pivot and come at it from another angle if need be.

Tip: Look at the objection like an opponent—it needs to be brought down and attacked from a variety of angles, some of which will not make themselves known until you are closer to the person.

4. THROW OUT AN EXTREME SUGGESTION

Igor’s wife had been caught shoplifting and since foreign diplomats (and spouses) have immunity, she could not be arrested. I could make it extremely embarrassing for him, however, by reporting the incident to the Consulate’s Security Officer. Most likely, Igor would be sent back home in shame and his career ended.

When I met Igor in the department store where he had been detained with his wife, he was shaking with fear that I was going to ask him to betray his country in return for not reporting him to the security officer. I let him go on thinking this was my objective for quite a while.

Little beads of perspiration burst on his bald head as he waited for my next move. He pulled a grayed handkerchief from his back pocket and wiped his brow. I sat across from him and started asking about his grandchildren. He spoke good enough English that we had a nice little conversation.

And then I offered him a sum of money right then and there to answer a few questions about some individuals we had reason to believe he knew quite well. Nothing too intrusive, but important information for us.

His relief was palpable. He gave me the answers and we never saw each other again.

My extreme suggestion that he would be asked to betray his country jolted Igor out of the complacency of his established way of thinking. The result is that his attitude shifted when I offered him a desirable alternative. This is a technique used with great success by retailers, ex-spouses, and terrorists.

The following letter is a perfect example of how extreme suggestions can work in the way we go about changing people’s minds:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Since I left for college, many things have happened. I apologize for not writing sooner, but you’ve been in my thoughts. Please, do not cry until you’ve read my entire letter but you had better prepare yourself by sitting down.

First, my jail sentence went by faster than I expected. The food wasn’t that bad, really, and I felt lucky that I lost only 50 pounds. Being female, I didn’t know what to expect but my cellmate was a businesswoman named Sugar and she’s offered me a regular job with her escort service. She assures me that I’ll be escorting very nice gentlemen to innocent parties and not to worry about the nasty rumors. I’m not sure what she means, but she says she’s got a great lawyer.

While in jail I met the man of my dreams. He’s out on parole now and we’ve found a wonderful little cubbyhole under the Golden Gate Bridge to live in until he finds a proper job. He’s an enterprising young man and I know you’ll like him. For example, he’s up and going through the trash bins before anyone else in the area! Yes, I’m homeless right now and although my boyfriend thinks I should take up Sugar’s offer on employment, I’m worried that my pregnancy will not make me a desirable escort.

Yes, I’m going to have a baby! And as soon as my boyfriend’s infection clears up, we’ll get our blood tests and have a real wedding. I know you’ll welcome him with open arms and perhaps even help him find a job. You should also know that although he never graduated from high school, he has high ambitions.

Now that you have all the news worth telling, I want to tell you that I didn’t get arrested, I didn’t lose 50 pounds, I’m not thinking of going to work for Sugar, I didn’t meet a boyfriend in jail, I’m not homeless, and I’m not pregnant. I am, however, getting a D in economics, which wouldn’t be so bad but it is, unfortunately, my major. I wanted you to see this in proper perspective.

Your loving daughter, Lori

Yes, there are times when the middle ground can seem like a gift from heaven.

Tip: The most persuasive speech can often be one that introduces an idea that is initially so shocking that we welcome “middle ground” as a desirable alternative.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

5 Effective FBI Tips To Boost Your Willpower

January 9th, 2017 by LaRae Quy

Willpower is that thing that pushes you to the next level despite obstacles and setbacks. It’s the grit that keeps FBI agents on a case when there is no easy answer in sight. Sometimes, in order to find a kidnapping victim or arrest a terrorist, agents need to rely not on their skills and training, but on their sheer will and determination to cross the finish line.

Willpower is the force of will that drives entrepreneurs and business owners to overcome seemingly impossible circumstances. It drives change and creates opportunity.

Many people could improve their lives if only they had more of that mysterious thing called willpower but most of us do not believe we have enough of it. In the American Psychological Association’s annual survey on stress, people cited lack of willpower as the #1 barrier to following through with changes that would improve their lives.

Willpower is something that can be learned and can be strengthened with practice. It’s also a vital component of mental toughness.

Let’s take a look at 5 effective FBI tips on how to boost your willpower:

1) TACKLE TOUGH TASKS EARLY IN THE MORNING

FBI arrests occur bright and early in the morning—when agents’ their willpower is strongest and they are able to land on their feet when confronted with the unexpected.

If you start your day reading emails and scheduling meetings, you are making a big mistake. Research shows that between 2 and 4 hours after waking your brain is at its sharpest. Don’t waste that precious energy first thing in the morning on a conference call or staff meeting.

There is a reason things usually go bad in the evening, when you’re tired and easily distracted.

TIP: It’s hard to do real work at work. Most workplaces are an endless stream of interruptions. If possible, get to work before the crowd or work from home during those first productive hours in the morning.

2) KEEP THE JUICES FLOWING

The agents with whom I worked alongside for 24 years were motivated because they had jobs that provided them with value and meaning. They were committed to upholding the federal laws of the United States and bringing criminals to justice.

To activate your willpower, you must be able to remind yourself why it’s important for you to do something. Meaningless tasks will not activate your willpower. When you keep the juices flowing you are reminded that you have a purpose and are committed to your goal.

Successful entrepreneurs and business owners are passionate enough to take on the world and are able to do so because they know willpower drives innovation and success.

TIP: Monitor your behavior toward your goal by using your willpower to prepare for the roadblocks and bumps that are undoubtedly ahead of you. If your job provides you with value and meaning, you will be motivated to do whatever it takes to reach your goal and make a positive difference over the long haul.

3) FOCUS THE RIGHT WAY

FBI agents do not focus on what they are up against; they focus on their goal of solving a case and ignore the rest. That doesn’t mean they don’t pay attention to valuable information that comes their way, but they do not lose focus on what is truly important.

Entrepreneurs and business owners need to do the same thing. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself on a merry-go-round of constant worry. You will never get anywhere if your mind is always focused on the difficulties ahead.

TIP: It’s easier to regain the feeling of control if you break down your big projects into little chunks and put all of your mental energy into completing them. Always keep the big picture and ultimate goal in mind, but dedicate yourself to the little victories that will take you further down the line.

4) SIMPLIFY WHEN YOU CAN

Every night I laid out what I was going to wear to the office the next day. I always wore a suit with flats. It was easy, predictable, and I didn’t have to worry about how I would chase a suspect down the street in a pair of ridiculous heels.

President Obama wears only gray or blue suits to pare down his number of decisions. In an interview with Vanity Fair he said, “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing because I have too many other decisions to make.”

We have a finite amount of mental energy and the more choices we make during the day, the harder each one is on our brain. We start to look for shortcuts, we get impulsive, and then we get reckless.

Successful people tap into their willpower reserves by limiting the number of decisions they have to make during the day.

TIP: Focus your decision-making energy by creating routines around those activities that are performed every day. Don’t go through your day being distracted by trivia.

5) BUILD A BIGGER BRAIN

FBI agents are not the only ones who resort to running and other forms of exercise to clear their mind so it can focus on important matters. Training our mind to focus clearly strengthens our willpower.

According to Kelly McGonigal, your brain actually has a willpower center, a clump of cerebral cells called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Neuroscientists have discovered that you can make your willpower center denser and better connected by meditating. After 11 hours of meditation, MRI scans show that meditators have increased neural connections and gray matter in brain regions responsible for impulse control.

TIP: Spend five minutes a day meditating. Focus on your breath and when your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath. Being “bad” at meditation—constantly needing to push away intrusive thoughts—is exactly what trains the brain and strengthens willpower.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

4 Reasons You Need A Tribe When Things Go Wrong

January 2nd, 2017 by LaRae Quy

During my first 3 weeks of the FBI Academy, new agents like myself were not allowed to leave the Marine Corp base. We spent 24 hours a day with each other—building the trust and familiarity that creates a tribe.

Our tribe trained together for the entire 4 months. We shot over each other’s heads in firearms, punched each other in boxing, and arrested each other in Hogan’s Ally. In a tribe, the survival of the individual depends upon the survival of the group. By the time we received our badge and gun, we knew we could rely on each other to watch our backs when things went wrong.

The importance of tribe building is so important that the FBI recently started allowing intelligence analysts to train next to new agents for the initial few weeks at the Academy. This type of tribe building enables the two groups to work together more easily to gather information when things go wrong—like terrorist attacks, espionage, or cyber warfare.

When you are a member of a tribe, you have an acute sense of belonging—you feel accepted and safe when things go wrong.

Many of us are lucky enough to feel that our biological families are our tribe, but usually tribes are founded around groups of people with shared values, ideas, and experiences.

In the competitive world of business, it is not always easy to feel safe and accepted. When things go wrong, you fear losing your company, your job, and maybe even your health.

It’s at times like this when it’s important to focus on finding what unites you with others rather than your differences. Never stoop to predicating your power on the excommunication of those around you. To be a strong and effective leader, find your tribe.

Here are 4 reasons you need a tribe when things go wrong;

1. FIND A SAFE SHOULDER

Tribes are more than fulfilling friendships and the comfortable exchange of ideas. Although trust is essential, good tribes do not mean warm hugs and unconditional love. Instead, tribes hold us accountable and provide honest, constructive feedback—even when it’s not what we want to hear.

Core to tribe building is the acceptance of others who are different but whom you respect.

Tip:

Look for people who will help show you how to honestly evaluate yourself and your performance when things go wrong. The healthiest tribes are those that can hold the tension of both competition and cooperation.

2. SHARE YOUR FEELINGS

Hand in suit holds pen, writing on lined paper in spiral bound notebook – could be business or student

Avoiding negative emotions may feel like a good strategy at the time, but it does nothing but postpone the flood of emotions that will erupt at some point in the future. The only way to be free of the anxiety and angst you feel when things go wrong is to stop and face what you are feeling.

Don’t wallow in your negativity but do acknowledge it. If you are overcome by a negative emotion in the middle of your working day, identify the emotion you are feeling and use one or two words to describe it. Don’t get into a dialogue about it; if you do, they will grow legs and start running away with you.

Tip:

Grab a member of your tribe and talk about the emotion you experienced earlier without judging it as good or bad. When things go wrong, talking about it with others helps you better understand your own fears and get valuable feedback.

Write down what you were feeling and why you were experiencing those emotions.

3. FIND THOSE WHO LIFT YOU UP

Tribes, like families, are not perfect. There will be times when you need to avoid those who are negative and suck the life out of you.

It has been said that people are like dirt—they can either nourish you and help you grow as a person, or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.

Pick the people you hang around with care—they create the environment in which you will either thrive or wilt. Give everyone the opportunity to be a friend, but share your dreams and goals only with those members of your tribe and/or community who value them as much as you do.

Tip:

Establish a benchmark test for choosing people to hang around with. Ask yourself whether spending time with this person will lift you up or drag you down? Will spending time with this person help you to become your best self? Will you be happier after spending time with this person? Will this person help you achieve your most important goals? If not, find people who will.

4. SEEK OUT COMPANIONSHIP

In his book, “Tribes,” Sebastian Junger suggests that the lack of tribal brotherhood is what makes it so hard for returning combat veterans to reintegrate into contemporary, fragmented societies.

Above all else, people need to feel connected with others. Disasters create instant communities because when things go wrong, people seek out the companionship of others. Furthermore, we are driven to put our own interests aside for the good of the group.

For those in poor inner city situations, gangs provide a tribal sense of belonging and relevancy. It’s the companionship that makes them feel both safe and connected to others.

Tip:

In times of stress, it’s easy to feel neglected. It’s impossible to instantly create deep bonds of familiarity and trust. Don’t wait until things go wrong to start finding your tribe. Start now.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Mental Toughness

December 19th, 2016 by LaRae Quy

In the 1930’s FBI agents needed mental toughness to hunt bank robbers like John Dillinger and mobsters like Al Capone.

As the world became more complex, FBI agents started working complex and sophisticated cases like terrorism, organized crime, cyber, and counterintelligence to better address the threats to American lives and interests.

It’s no secret that business and life are not as simple as they were, either—even a few years ago. It is no longer just a matter of knowledge, ability, and skill to succeed.

As entrepreneurs and business owners you need to be psychologically prepared to deal with strong competition, recover from mistakes and failure quickly, tackle tough situations, devise strategies, and collaborate with others.

In other words, you need mental toughness to manage the emotions, thoughts, and behavior that will set you up for success in business and life.

People define mental toughness in different ways. Often, they think it is plowing through obstacles and roadblocks. While that mindset might work in football, it is not an effective way to succeed in business and life.

Here is a complete beginner’s guide to mental toughness:

SKILL #1: MENTAL TOUGHNESS REQUIRES EMOTIONAL COMPETENCY

Most of the FBI agents I worked alongside would never sputter the phrase emotional intelligence—much less attribute their success to it. While they considered themselves mentally tough, they preferred words like competence and alertness to describe the skills they carefully honed over the years.

I prefer the term emotional competency rather than emotional intelligence. I know of lots of people who are intelligent but not necessarily competent. Competency requires more than just information; it requires the practical wisdom to put that knowledge to work in real life situations.

Let’s break emotional competency down:

1. Self-Awareness—know what fuels you. I am not talking about fluffy ideals or stuff that gives you the warm fuzzies. Training at the FBI Academy at Quantico is constructed to filter out those who do not feel deeply attached to upholding our federal judicial system.

To be mentally tough, you must know what you feel down deep in your bones. If you are not pursuing something that really holds value and meaning for you, you will not have what it takes to keep going when the going gets tough.

If you are self-aware, you have clarity about your values, operate from a place of authenticity, and go after the things in life that are hard-wired to give you a purpose.

2. Communication—you know how to interpret the words and body language of others. This means you are a good listener and know how to build genuine trust with others. An essential element of mental toughness is the ability to accurately read the emotions of others and then adapt your behavior accordingly.

To be successful, match your personality to your boss, employee, or client. Assess whether they are introverts or extraverts, analytical or a visionary, purpose-driven or security-driven, goal-oriented or people-oriented. If you’ve been a good listener, you will be able to make these distinctions.

3. Empathy—it’s not feeling sorry for the other person; it is feeling their sorrow. If you can understand the emotions of others, it is easier to create empathy.

Sometimes we don’t really want to hear what other people have to say! We love our own opinions and thoughts and would prefer to shut out those of others.

Once we close down, however, we risk becoming judgmental and opinionated. More importantly, we miss out on what others have to share with us.

SKILL #2: RESILIENCE — MENTAL TOUGHNESS MEANS WE ADAPT TO OVERCOME

The ability to pick ourselves up when life knocks us down is called resilience. In today’s competitive culture, resilience has become a critical skill because it takes more than talent to succeed.

Resilient people do not blame others, whine, or complain about how unfair life is. Yes, life can be unfair but that is no excuse to give up.

As a new FBI agent, I learned to be bold, take risks, move into my discomfort zone, and put myself out there, even when scared to death of what I might face. The way in which we adapt to overcome our adversity determines how we will achieve success.

More than talent, more than education, more than experience, the ability to bounce back from setbacks determines who will succeed and who will fail. That is true in the classroom, in sports, and in the boardroom.

Here’s a breakdown of resilience:

1. Confidence—if you don’t believe in yourself, how can others believe in you? When you’re knocked down in life, you must have enough confidence in yourself to get back up, find a way to move forward, and adapt to overcome.

Lack of confidence can rear its ugly head at any time. No one is immune because we are most vulnerable any time we’re out of our comfort zone or experience change in our life. We must face our fears. If we have confidence in ourselves we are not afraid of how others perceive us, afraid of commitment, or afraid of failure.

Confidence is a critical building block for a successful career because it is the one mindset that will take you where you want to go.

2. Take Risksmost of us don’t know what we’re capable of until we’re truly challenged. And most of do not want to be truly challenged because we don’t want to fail.

But failure can be very beneficial for building confidence because it allows you a perfect opportunity to 1) learn why things went wrong, and 2) see how you can make adjustments next time.

When learning how to make an arrest or interview a terrorist I needed to take risks, fail, and learn from my mistakes as much as possible before I found myself in the actual situation.

If you think you never make mistakes, you are a narcissist—either that or stupid. But if you are humble and self-aware, you recognize that taking risks, making mistakes, and failing will help you understand that there is always something you can do to be better.

3. Self-Limiting Beliefs as children we think we can conquer the world, but somewhere between childhood and adulthood, our enthusiasm and natural inclinations to dream big are squashed. Parents and teachers start imposing their own beliefs—about what we can and can’t do in life—upon us.

It’s tempting to give up and not try for anything beyond the predictions and admonitions of others. While many of these people are well-intentioned, they feed negative, limiting, and inaccurate narratives about what it possible once you put your mind to it.

If the instructors at the FBI Academy were not pushing us past our self-limiting beliefs, they weren’t doing their job.

SKILL #3: WILLPOWER — MENTAL TOUGHNESS ENABLES PERSONAL MASTERY

The capacity to say “no” to the call of temptation and desire to quit is called willpower. It is the ability to find the energy, motivation, and enthusiasm to keep going even when you’re tired, anxious, and looking for a way out.

Many people could improve their lives if only they had more of that mysterious thing called willpower, but most of us do not believe we have enough of it. In the American Psychological Association’s annual survey on stress, people cited lack of willpower as the No. 1 barrier to following through with changes that would improve their lives.

Willpower is something that can be learned and can be strengthened with practice. It’s also a vital component of mental toughness.

Here’s a breakdown of willpower:

1. Grit—it keeps FBI agents on a case when there is no easy answer in sight. Sometimes, in order to find a kidnapping victim or arrest a terrorist, agents need to rely not only on their skills and training, but also on their sheer will and determination to cross the finish line.

Jack Dempsey once said, “A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.” He was talking about perseverance, persistence, and determination—grit.

Researcher Angela Duckworth has found that grit is more predictive of success than IQ in military academies like West Point. In fact, grit is unrelated, or even negatively correlated, with talent. When working with West Point cadets, she found that those who scored higher in grit had the mental toughness to keep going when times got tough.

The high score on grit surpassed other tests such as SAT scores, IQ, class rank, leadership, and physical aptitude when it came to predicting retention rates.

2. Performance Focus—unless you know your limits, you will not be able to prepare either your mind or your body to move past them. To move toward peak performance, you need to stretch your current skill level—but not so hard that you want to give up.

Experts agree that this magic stretch is 4% greater than our skill. For most of us, that’s not much at all. However, it’s important to keep that continual tension between stretch and skill if we want to move toward our peak performance.

Managing time wisely and developing good habits are essential if we want to push our limits and reach peak performance.

Never be content with mediocrity.

3. Mastery—research on elite athletes has found no correlation between innate talent and trainability. Mental traits were just as important as fitness level in differentiating top athletes from amateurs.

Successful people spend their time thinking about what they want to do and how to make it happen. And it doesn’t always take talent; it needs flow to make it happen. Flow is described as a state of deep absorption in the activity during which performance seems to happen effortlessly and automatically.

According to psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, flow happens when a person’s skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge so it acts as a catalyst for learning new skills and increasing challenges.

SKILL #4: ATTITUDE — CHAMPION MINDSETS ARE THE PRODUCT OF MENTAL TOUGHNESS

There’s a long-standing belief that happiness makes people achieve more. However, a study by sports psychologist Tim Woodman shows that happiness is not the key to success. In fact, it didn’t factor anywhere in the results.

Instead, those who were most successful had experienced a negative, critical event in their life—such as death, the divorce of parents, disease, or some other perceived loss—all fairly early in life.

This is when they kicked into high gear and began to develop their talents and skills, and in the process, changed their life course almost immediately. As a result, they felt valued, important, and inspired—perhaps for the first time.

What stands out in Woodman’s study is that these same individuals also experienced another critical turning point in mid-life. It could have been positive, like finding the right marriage partner, or negative, like the death of a loved one; but it caused these successful people to redouble their efforts.

The study also implies that those who do not experience trauma or tough times earlier in life are less likely to have the drive necessary to achieve peak performance. The mid-life event reminded them of the original loss and motivated them at a deep-seated level.

This is a common finding among successful people; they have a deeper motivation that pushes them toward fame, happiness, or money.

Here’s a breakdown of attitude:

1. Positive Thinking—positive thinkers are not optimists. Positive thinkers believe they will prevail in their circumstances rather than believing their circumstances will change; optimists believe their circumstances will eventually change for the better.

FBI Agents are not optimists who hope or expect an arrest to go without a hitch—instead, they prepare for the worst and practice ahead of time.

When they do come across adversity, they don’t wait and hope things will change for the better. They adapt quickly to the new situation and remain flexible by choosing to remain positive so that they will find a solution.

Visualizing your successful performance is based on solid science. By visualizing your performance repeatedly, your brain stores that information as a success.

The way in which we look at ourselves, and our circumstances, dictates our attitude when faced with adversity. To jettison those negative thoughts, you may find it necessary to express your situation differently. When you rethink, or reframe, your adversity, it helps to move it into a context that is more favorable.

This is not to make light of tragedy. It’s perfectly normal to be sad when we are immersed in a negative situation. That said, we do not need to let the crap moments produced by adversity sabotage our efforts to keep moving toward success.

2. Growth Mindset—mentally strong leaders have a growth mindset that looks at success as hard work, learning, training, and having the grit to keep moving ahead even when faced with obstacles and roadblocks.

When facing uncertainty, you have two choices: You can dread it because you are afraid of failing—you believe that failure sends a negative message about your abilities, or…

You can anticipate it because you interpret failure as an opportunity for learning and improvement.

The first choice describes a fixed mindset that does best when there is a heavy hand running the show. That way of leading may have been efficient years ago, but today’s leaders are learning that the brain power of their workforce is a terrible thing to waste.

The second choice describes a growth mindset that looks at success as hard work, learning, training, and having the grit to keep moving ahead even when faced with obstacles and roadblocks.

3. Gratitude— is a positive emotion that encourages reciprocal altruism, well-being, and appreciation. The strong and unequivocal support of others produces gratitude, and it is powerful because gratitude increases an individual’s self-confidence, provides a safety net for those times when they fall, and enhances their belief that they can overcome obstacles.

As Sebastian Junger wrote in his book, “Tribe”—“We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding–tribes. This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival.”

Bonding strongly with others in a tribe provides greater security than if we strike out on our own.

Emotional competency, resilience, willpower, and attitude are the four essential components of mental toughness. Building mental toughness is a life long task, but here is the good news: Mental toughness is not something we were born with—it is something we can learn.

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

How To Build Trust With Others

December 12th, 2016 by LaRae Quy

As a former FBI counterintelligence agent, I needed to learn how to build trust with others.

trust

I needed information from them; in return, they needed to know that I could be trusted to keep our relationship discreet.

Trust is at the heart of every business. Entrepreneurs, small business owners, and leaders need to work with people both inside and outside of their organization to create mutually beneficial relationships.

People who live in high-trust environments thrive. They are able to build strong relationships because trust is give-and-take. 

Emotional competency is a core component of mental toughness—the ability to manage our own emotions and empathize with the emotions of others. When learning how to build trust with others, you must find a way to relate to them in a meaningful way. Here are 6 tips:

1. Build Trust With Others By Trusting Yourself

Adversity - give up!

You will not be able to trust others if you cannot trust yourself. It requires you to be honest about who you are as a person. Learn how to be compassionate with yourself and not harshly judge the person you find. Compassion and forgiveness opens you up and allows you to learn.

Self-awareness enables us to understand and accept our limitations; in turn, it’s easier to understand that everyone has limitations.

2. Build Trust With Others By Mirroring Them

Self-awareness - squirrel

Neuro-linguistic researchers have found links between our mind, language, and behavior. The three primary modes through which people react to the world around them are visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), and kinesthetic (feeling).

These sensory channels become important when building trust because they impact the way we can relate to people in a way that is meaningful to them. Pay attention to the language that a person uses—chances are, they will follow one of the following three patterns in their speech.

Sounds like . . . a lot of information.

Looks like . . . a lot to learn.

Feels like . . . more than I can handle.

If someone expresses themselves using a feeling word, use a feeling word to respond. If someone is an auditory person, use sounds to bring home your point: “it sounds like a thousand people in the room.” For visual people, ask them what the issue “looks” like to them.

3. Build Trust With Others By Noticing Their Words

Trust - whispering

When people are passionate about something, they use words that are freighted with meaning. The first step is to notice the words they use that are full of energy. Here are some energy words another person may use in a conversation that point to their emotional state:

  • Disappointed
  • Baffled
  • Cautious
  • Confused
  • Grateful
  • Hesitant
  • Interested
  • Relaxed
  • Surprised
  • Uncertain
  • Nervous

The list goes on. After you have noticed the way a person uses an energy word, draw attention to it by simply repeating it, and then pausing. By repeating the word, and pausing, it alerts them that you 1) have noticed their concern, 2) are validating it, and 3) giving them an opportunity to further elaborate.

4. Build Trust With Others By Making Promises. And Keeping Them.

Successful financial plans

The promise does not have to be big, but small things like sending a timely email or sticking to a schedule can go a long way in building trust.

When others realize you can be trusted to keep your word on small things, they will instinctively trust you with bigger ones. This becomes very important when the stakes are higher.

5. Build Trust With Others By Admitting You Don’t Have All The Answers

Tough Decisions

It takes genuine confidence in yourself to admit you don’t know something, but this simple act of trust on your part speaks volumes to the people who hear it. Your team will understand that you are an honest and open person.

Trust is reciprocal, so the more you trust others, they more likely they will trust you. Trusting others also requires you to take a risk because you cannot always predict their response.

6. Build Trust With Others By Remaining Vigilant

Positivity - looking forward

We spend a great deal of time trying to size up other people to determine their trustworthiness. However, once we make a decision, we rarely re-evaluate it even if a significant period of time has lapsed.

Complacency is dangerous.

Always remain vigilant for instances of where trust can be abused. If we’re not paying attention, the landscape can change and suddenly the attitude and behavior of people you once trusted can shift.

This is not being paranoid, it is being wise. We all know of instances where deals have fallen through or bad decisions were made because they were based on a false sense of security.

Trust, but verify—Ronald Reagan

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

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6 Ways FBI Agents Increase Resilience

December 5th, 2016 by LaRae Quy

In today’s competitive culture, the ability to increase resilience has become a critical skill because it takes more than talent to succeed.

Increase Resilience

The ability to pick ourselves up when life knocks us down is called resilience. As a new FBI agent, I learned to be bold, take risks, and put myself out there—even when scared to death of what I might face.

Adversity creates many forms of stress—whether it’s the stress that comes scaling a business, expanding into a new market, or juggling the demands of family.

The way in which we overcome adversity determines how we will achieve success—LaRae Quy

More than talent, more than education, more than experience—the ability to bounce back from setbacks determines who will succeed and who will fail. That is true in the classroom, in sports, and in the boardroom.

Here are 6 ways to increase your resilience:

1) INCREASE RESILIENCE: REINTERPRET NEGATIVE EVENTS

Setbacks are a natural part of life. Resilience requires mental toughness because it is the ability to recover quickly from adversity, no matter your situation.

Nip negative emotions and reactions in the bud, when they first appear. This is when they are the weakest—LaRae Quy

Cold cases are those in which the leads have grown cold, but nothing motivates an FBI case agent as much as looking into the face of an innocent victim who trusts and expects them to find the answer.

To reinterpret negative events, agents reappraise the facts of the case to find new clues. As a result, they become wiser and more resilient investigators. They are better able to see new possibilities in how the case can move forward.

Quit is not a word used in FBI investigations.

2) INCREASE RESILIENCE: ENHANCE POSITIVE EMOTIONS

successful-business-woman

increase resilience

Resilience is often described as bouncing back from whatever adversity you are facing; but sometimes, the only way out is through. So grit-up and keep moving forward.

Optimism and positive thinking are two different things: optimism is believing that your circumstances will change in the future—and for the better. Positive thinking is not believing that your circumstances will change; instead, it is believing that you will prevail in your circumstances.

FBI are resilient because they are positive thinkers who do not look at their world through rose-colored glasses. Their buoyant outlook overpowers stress and sticky situations because they are confident they will find a way to get through the difficulty that lies ahead.

3) INCREASE RESILIENCE: GET PHYSICALLY FIT

exercise

increase resilience

Exercise can lengthen your attention span, strengthen your decision making abilities, enhance memory, and empower you to handle stress.

Exercise can also enhance resilience because it activates genes for proteins that promote growth and repair of neurons damaged by stress.

When we get physically fit, it boosts endorphins as well as neurotransmitters responsible for elevating mood and suppresses the release of the stress hormone cortisol.

FBI agents are required to maintain physical fitness standards through their career and are given time during the week to work out. Once a year, all agents are given a field FIT test to gauge their body fat levels as well as pushups, sit-ups, and a two mile run.

4) INCREASE RESILIENCE: STICK WITH YOUR TRIBE

Teamwork - puppies

Friendships are important; they can lift you up, provide security, and prevent slip-ups in both business and life.

As Sebastian Junger wrote in his book, Tribe, “We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding–“tribes.” This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival.”

A strong psychological thread within the Bureau is the concept of the “FBI family.” FBI employees will close ranks around one of their own if the individual is targeted or harmed in some way.

The strong and unequivocal support of others is powerful because it increases an individual’s self-confidence, provides a safety net for those times when they fall, and enhances their belief that they can overcome obstacles.

Bonding strongly with others in a tribe provides greater security than if we strike out on our own.

5. INCREASE RESILIENCE: IMITATE OTHERS

Adversity - ducks

increase resilience

Look for people in your circles who have learned how to recover from hardship quickly so you can learn from them.

Research by psychologist Albert Bandura indicates that imitating the behavior of those whom we admire provides us with resilient role models. The “fake it until you make it” proverb will work but with a couple of important caveats:

1) First, you cannot look to others to make you competent, knowledgable, and confident—you must own those qualities. There is a big difference between imitating someone and trying to be an imposter.

2) Second, the individual whom you are imitating must possess the resilience qualities you admire and they must allow you to walk alongside so you can imbibe those qualities.

All new FBI agents are assigned a training agent, and this individual is often the one whom the new agent will imitate as they learn their job. I found informal mentors were also a great way to learn how to do something by simply watching and understanding how they developed their resilient qualities.

6) INCREASE RESILIENCE: STAND UP TO STRESS

stress

increase resilience

A resilient individual is not someone who avoids stress; rather, it is someone who learns how to tame it.

For years, psychologists distinguished between good stress, or “eustress” which is caused by positive experiences, and bad stress which is caused by the bad stuff. A new body of research is suggesting that stress is not bad for you unless you believe it is bad for you. Seeing stressors as challenges rather than threats invites physiological responses that can improve thinking and cause less physical wear and tear.                 

FBI agents often compare “war stories” with colleagues, and since we all shared these experiences, we treated the experiences as stimulating challenges in our job to be overcome. However, if I shared these same stories with friends or neighbors, they treated them as potential threats to my safety. The difference in response created the tribe mentality (as described above in #4) as well as reminding me that my outlook determined whether the experience was an exciting challenge, or a threat to be avoided.

How have you increased your resilience when confronted with roadblocks?

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

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Why You Need Grit When Life Throws You A Curveball

November 14th, 2016 by LaRae Quy

When I interviewed with the FBI, they liked my grit and scrappiness—a hillbilly from a cattle ranch in Wyoming had clawed her way through college, and was now sitting in front of a panel of polished FBI agents interviewing for a job as a special agent.

Grit Up!

I wore my working class background like a badge of honor. I was proud of the fact that my family took showers at the end of a hard day instead of stepping out of a shower smelling like a petunia each morning.

I grew up an unsophisticated ranch girl, and believe me, it takes a while to put a shine on a sneaker. I spent years being ridiculed because the educated elitists I met at universities and in business didn’t feel I was as enlightened as them.

Each curveball thrown my way was met with determination and persistence. I grew up with the grit it takes to make sacrifices in order to keep my eye on the larger goal.

The FBI liked that; when I was hired it was not because I was a female, it was because I was the best person for the job who happened to be female.

Voters feel they’ve been handed a curveball; entrepreneurs wake up every day to new challenges in their business; and startups are faced with new competition and unstable markets.

Here is why you need grit when life throws you a curveball:

1. GRIT UP & MANAGE YOUR EMOTIONS

body language

Growing up on a remote cattle ranch presented different types of adversity—rattlesnakes in the summer and deadly snowstorms in the winter. Both presented life and death situations.

At an elevation of 7,000 feet, we were frequently snowed in for months at a time during the winter. My brother and I had a private tutor who lived on the ranch with us because we were hours from the nearest town. When I was in first grade, our first tutor’s vehicle got stuck in a snowdrift and she froze to death while trying to walk back to our house.

We worked hard and lived in poverty. While the educated elitists and slick professionals in the cities were discussing whether schools should teach bi-lingual classes, we were more interested in keeping our livestock alive.

I had no friends and I started stacking hay bales when I was 8. I thought it terribly unfair that life had dealt me this crappy hand.

I also had no idea that years later researchers would notice a connection between grit, success, and early adversity in life. Why would adversity when I was young give me an advantage?

The answer in this study suggests that adversity at a young age teaches us early in life how to deal with our emotions. The ability to regulate our emotions gives us an advantage in both business and life.

Emotional competence is one of the cornerstones of mental toughness. If we are emotionally intelligent and aware of our innermost emotions, we have a much better chance of dealing with them when a curveball comes our way as an adult.

What This Means For You:

No one gets through childhood without a few scrapes. We don’t all get the red ball in the playground. Mine the significance of your own stories and experiences to uncover the way in which you dealt with blows in the past. They are an accurate predictor of how you’re dealing with them now.

If you don’t like what you see, start working on changing your response.

Teach your children how to get in touch with all of their emotions now, even the negative ones. Pretending they don’t exist or protecting them from adversity will not prepare them for the inevitable ones that will show up. There are no safe zones in life.

Throwing tantrums and blaming others is not a strategy for success in either business or life.

2. GRIT UP & LEAN INTO THE STRUGGLE

persistence

In working counterintelligence cases, I learned that grit meant leaning into the struggle when hit with a curveball or roadblock. I had one case that lasted 7 years before I was able to successfully close it. While I had other cases assigned to me during that time, this one case just kept rearing its ugly head.

There is a difference between being persistent and being stubborn. The case demanded that I change my behavior, tactics, and mindset if I planned on solving it.

Sometimes productive behavior means leaning into a struggle in ways that you don’t feel like doing but mental toughness is knowing when to change your behavior or when to change your environment. There will be times when you do need to change the environment so you can be your best self, but grit can help you respond to hardship in a more efficient manner.

Positive thinking is another cornerstone of mental toughness; FBI agents survive because they are always prepared for the worst-case scenario. We don’t go into arrest situations assuming everything will work out OK.

What It Means For You:

Don’t run from adversity or struggles if they are lying in the path of what you want to do in life. That means you will need to adapt and be flexible with micro quotas as you move toward your macro goal. Anticipate what could go wrong so you are better able to predict your response and land on your feet when confronted with the unknown.

3. GRIT UP & STOP WHINING

 

whining-kid

The quickest way to be ostracized from an FBI squad is to whine, point fingers, or blame others.

Whining about your problems always makes you feel worse, not better, because your words have power, both over yourself and others.

If something is wrong, save your mental energy for finding ways to make the situation better.

There are so many things over which we have no control—our parents, the country of our birth, the time in history. Most of us do not have a choice of when or where we die, nor can we control the time and manner of our death.

But we can choose how to live—either with purpose and joy or adrift and hopeless. We can choose what makes us significant, we can choose to be creative, and we can choose whether or not we live according to our most deeply felt values.

When you stop whining, pointing fingers, and blaming others you are able to choose your destiny.

What It Means For You:

If you don’t know your core values, take time to find out what they are because they are what drive your behavior, move you, and inspire you.

Identify what is wrong, but don’t waste time talking about it. Instead, talk only about how you’ll make it better.

Everyone goes through the school of hard knocks in different ways and at different times in their life. The questions for you:

  • If you’ve already experienced those hard knocks, how did you pull yourself through?
  • If you are currently experiencing them, how are you doing?
  • If they lie in the future for you, what will you do?

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

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4 Characteristics That Set Successful People Apart

November 7th, 2016 by LaRae Quy

The FBI only hires successful people because investigations often involve life and death situations where our mindset dictated the choices we make every day. As an FBI agent, being successful was not an option—it was a requirement. 

successful

The average age of a new agent is 32 because the FBI only hires people who have proven themselves to be successful in a previous career.

As successful leaders, entrepreneurs, and business owners, your ability to make decisions and execute is the lifeblood of your organization. As such, you need a mindset that says, “Grit up and make it happen.”

You need to have intense focus under pressure. Research suggests that it takes just the right mix of innate talent, personality traits, and life experiences to be successful and reach the top of the ladder.

Here are 4 characteristics that set successful people apart:

1. SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE GRIT UP

Grit Up!

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race—Calvin Coolidge

No matter how talented someone is, success demands psychological traits like grit and persistence if they expect to keep moving forward when confronted with an obstacle or roadblock.

A grit up and make it happen attitude requires confidence, competitiveness, positivity, and mental toughness. It also requires that you are able to relish your accomplishment while at the same time tolerating mistakes that you make along the way—self-criticism can be very destructive since it brings your focus on the negative instead of the positive.

TIP:

To sharpen this grit up mindset, place yourself in situations where you have ample opportunities to experience it. You can recognize when this mindset occurs when you are doing something excellent and you perceive you are close to your best performance.

2. SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE LOOK IN THE MIRROR

thinking

The way you view yourself predicts your level of effectiveness in every area of your life. It explains why the brain has such a powerful effect on your performance. If you see yourself as someone who cannot organize effective meetings, you won’t.

No matter where you are in business and life, you need to uncover and develop your skill sets. What you can glean from coaching and mentoring depends a great deal on how you see yourself.

Coaches and mentors can make you smarter, but they cannot make you smart.

Success demands that we identify our innate talents and skill sets, apply mental toughness to keep moving toward our goals, and train to develop and expand our talents.

TIP:

Most of what you think about yourself and your abilities were programmed in early childhood. This will play a decisive role in the way you approach challenges, and successes, in life.

Take the time to trace back the origins of many of the self-limiting beliefs you have about yourself. Ask yourself whether they are still true because you can use mental toughness to change your self-concept when new information is shown to you.

3. SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE FIND THE FLOW

Woman thinking

Successful people spend their time thinking about what they want to do and how to make it happen. And it doesn’t always take talent; it needs flow to make it happen.

Claude Bouchard’s research on elite athletes found no correlation between innate talent and trainability. Mental traits were just as important as fitness level in differentiating top athletes from amateurs.

Whether it’s an elite athlete, entrepreneur, business owner, or leader, the most successful people are those who have experiences described as flow—a state of deep absorption in the activity during which performance seems to happen effortlessly and automatically.

According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, flow happens when a person’s skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge so it acts as a catalyst for learning new skills and increasing challenges.

TIP:

If challenges are too low, one gets back to flow by increasing them. If challenges are too great, one can return to the flow state by learning new skills.

4. SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE DON’T EXPECT A BED OF ROSES

grit-training

There’s a long standing belief that happiness makes people achieve more. However, a study by sports psychologist Tim Woodman shows that happiness is not the key to success. In fact, it didn’t factor anywhere in the results.

Instead, those who were most successful had experienced a negative, critical event in their life—such as death, the divorce of parents, disease, or some other perceived loss, all fairly early in life.

This is when they kicked into high gear and began to develop their talents and skills, and in the process, changed their life course almost immediately. As a result, they felt valued, important, and inspired—perhaps for the first time.

What stands out in Woodman’s study is that these same individuals also experienced another critical turning point in mid-life. It could have been positive, like finding the right marriage partner, or negative, like the death of a loved one; but it caused these successful people to redouble their efforts.

The study also implies that those who do not experience trauma or tough times earlier in life are less likely to have the drive necessary to achieve peak performance. 

The mid-life event reminded them of the original loss and motivated them at a deep-seated level.

This is a common finding among successful people; they have a deeper motivation that pushes them toward fame, happiness, or money.

TIP:

Successful people are not content with beating their competition; they are just as interested in beating themselves. Personal best is very important because they believe they can always do better, no matter how well they perform.

They are always striving toward peak performance.

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

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What You Should Know About Following Your Passion

October 31st, 2016 by LaRae Quy

When I graduated from Business school I knew how I would follow my passion —I loved clothes and shopping so I went into the executive management program at a department store. Surely, being around beautiful clothes all day would be my dream job!

passion

But I soon learned the reason work is not called fun or a hobby—it is hard and there was nothing fun about my long days working retail. Even after I became a buyer, I found it more suited to the talents of an accountant because I worked with numbers all day. Every day. Day after day.

I truly hated the job.

“Follow your passion” was the worst advice I’d ever received. I thought about my epitaph: LaRae’s goal in life was to persuade women to buy striped blouses instead of polka dots. That would be the sum of my contribution to society.

Like all bad advice, “Follow Your Passion” rears its ugly head regularly—most notably at the Oscars when movie stars spew out the inevitable cliche. I learned the hard way that just because I was passionate about something didn’t mean I wouldn’t suck at it.

If you are passionate about something, of course you should pursue it; but here is the question: to what end? Because at some point in life you will need to see yourself in the flow of history. What did you put back into your community to help other people? It’s not about having a passion, it’s about doing something with your life that will benefit others.

Entrepreneurs and startups must be passionate about their customers and the business opportunity, but they do not need their’s life passion to be the starting point. Tony Hsieh did not have to be passionate about shoes to start Zappos, but he did need to be passionate about customer service.

For startups to be successful, entrepreneurs need to think about opportunities from their customers’ perspective as much as from their own perspective.

Passions are magical; business is grounded in reality.

Mental toughness starts with the “why” because if you are not on the right course for you, all the persistence, grit, attitude, and willpower in the world will get you nowhere. Always bring your passion with you, but cultivate enough self-awareness so that big dreams do not harden into pockets of resentment, entitlement, and unrealistic expectations.

We are living in a world where everyone expects a trophy just for showing up. Mental toughness is being strong enough to take the blame when things go wrong and accept responsibility for our actions.

You want to follow your passion? Here are some things you should know:

FOLLOWING YOUR PASSION #1: Pursue A Career That Fits Your Personal Interests

Frustration

If you enjoy thinking about abstract ideas, you will not be happy in a job managing minutia and logistics. If you are a person who likes being around people, you will not be happy sitting behind a computer all day.

Develop enough self-awareness to know which jobs to avoid and which ones to pursue. As a general rule, people whose jobs match their personal interests are happier with their lives.

FOLLOWING YOUR PASSION #2: Pursue Work That Interests You

Missing the deadlines. Thoughtful young woman in suit looking at the stack of paperwork and holding head on chin while sitting at her working place

If you like being around people, try sales or HR. Once you’ve found a career that matches your personal interests, drill down to pursue which aspects of that career are most interesting to you.

There are no boring jobs, only boring  ways to look at them. You may look at a job as a way to pay the bills or as a path toward something better—it’s your choice.

Passion for your work is like an FBI investigation: there is a bit of discovery, a follow up on leads uncovered, a lot of development, and then a deepening of understanding the truth.

FOLLOWING YOUR PASSION #3: Experiment With Your Interests

Success - wall climbing

Your interests in life are not discovered by introspection and meditation. They are sparked by getting out in the real world and trying different things. This part can be messy—only by spending 3 years in retail did I truly see why this was not the right job for me.

It is difficult to predict what will catch your attention. Trial and error is often the best way and this can take time. Without experimenting you won’t know what catches your interests and matches your talents.

FOLLOWING YOUR PASSION #4: Adopt A Craftsman’s Mindset

Women leaders

In his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport warns that a passion mindset is always asking, ”What do I really want?” which can be harmful because it breeds an obsession with whether or not a job is “right” for them.

When you focus on everything you dislike about your work, your job satisfaction level drops. By contrast, the craftsman’s mindset acknowledges that no matter what field you’re in, success is always about quality. Once you start focusing on the quality of work you’re doing, rather than whether or not it’s right for you, you won’t hesitate to do what is necessary to improve it.

Make the quality of what you do become your primary focus.

You absolutely need to be passionate about making your business or carer a success, so find the opportunities that ignite that passion in you—and you will be successful!

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

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Why Curiosity Makes People More Successful

October 24th, 2016 by LaRae Quy

Curiosity is an indicator of success, both in business and life. As an FBI agent, I found that curiosity about people was my best tool to become a successful investigator. The more I knew about the people I was investigating, the more reliable the information I acquired.

As a business owner, entrepreneur, or leader, you know that curiosity about your competition, the market, and the people surrounding you is what pulls you to the front of the pack.

Curiosity is a thirst for knowledge and the need to hunt for answers to these questions: “What is this?” and “How does it work?” It’s an exercise in mental toughness because it requires a mindset that keeps people moving forward and doing new things that starts them on the path to new discoveries.

Curiosity does not have to be a natural strength in order for you to be successful. Even if you do not see yourself as a perpetual learner, you can learn tricks from the trade by following these three tips:

1. ASK POWERFUL QUESTIONS OF OTHERS

You will always achieve better results if you have the curiosity to probe deeper into the needs of the market, clients, or team members. Make each question an open-ended one that start with “Why, How, When, or Where?” These questions invite reflection and start a discussion.

Always avoid questions that can be answered with either a “Yes” or “No.” They do not invite additional discussion and rarely yield any insight.

Tip For You:

Effective Questions To Use are:

  • Specific. Focus on the area of concern by asking specific questions, not vague ones. Notice words that are freighted with feeling or energy because they have more meaning to the person who is talking. Once you hear one of those words, follow up with an open-ended question.
  • Paced. When we’re accustomed to having all the answers, we can get uncomfortable with periods of silence. Rapid-fire questions are exhausting—for everyone. Don’t try to comment on every remark after you’ve asked a question. It is amazing what you can learn by letting people move at their own pace. The more you listen, the more informed your comments will become. Often, the real issue is not touched upon until you’ve gone several questions deep.
  • Polite. Good manners matter. Showing respect for the other person is the single most important thing you can do for them.
  • Focused. Good questions are goal-oriented. Be clear about your goals before you begin because it will be easier to frame your question. Understand why you’re asking a question before you ask it.
  • Honest. Manipulation is akin to extortion—it may get you what you want, once, but it doesn’t build long-term relationships.

Ineffective Questions To Avoid are:

  • Vague. Asking vague and useless questions make you seem unskilled and/or unprepared. And why waste the time? They tip off your audience that you have no genuine curiosity about them at all:
  • Judgmental. If you want honest answers, make certain you don’t come across as confrontational or judgmental. Let the other person feel that they’ve been heard.

2. DIVE IN

Struggles - tiger in water

In his 1994 paper, The Psychology of Curiosity, George Loewenstein found that curiosity requires some amount of initial knowledge. His research determined that we are not curious about those things we know absolutely nothing about.

This changes, however, when we start to learn even a little bit about a topic or subject; our curiosity is piqued and we want to learn more.

It turns out that the more we know, the more we want to know.

Tip For You:

Research shows that when you are curious, the limbic reward system of the brain is active. This is why it is important that teachers spark curiosity in the classroom and use curiosity as a teaching method.

3. DEMONSTRATE YOUR CURIOSITY TO OTHERS

As a team leader, you will constantly need to send the message to others that you are leading an organization more interested in asking questions than knowing all the answers. Too often, this becomes flip-flopped and the emphasis is on knowing all the answers—a sure path to stagnation.

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, 65% of workplace employees surveyed felt unable to ask questions at work. Even more ironic, while 84% indicated that their employers encouraged curiosity, 60% said they also encountered barriers to it at work.

Tip For You:

It’s important to model curious behavior for those around you by showing a willingness to ask questions and admitting you don’t know the answer.

Collect wisdom where you find it. In your circle, have:

  • One person older than you who is where you want to be in the future
  • One peer who possesses strengths and accomplishments that you don’t
  • One person younger than you who is further along than you were at that age

Curiosity is important to every business owner, entrepreneur, and leader. If it wasn’t then new ventures would have no appeal. Asking questions and maintaining a strong sense of curiosity is also necessary to see a company or market trend for what it truly is. Remember, curiosity can wane over time so use the above tips to stay curious and maintain your competitive edge.

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

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