Archive for September, 2010

How You Can Develop A Strong Mind

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
I takes a strong mind to grow up on remote cattle ranch in Wyoming. I played on a rockslide that had stabilized over the years, discovered abandoned whiskey stills from the 1930’s in rough mountain terrain, and wore high-top leather boots to safeguard against rattlesnakes.
Strong Mind - Mohammed Ali

Of course, if it bit anywhere higher on my leg, I was on my own so I learned to be alert. And fast. A coiled rattlesnake can only strike the length of its body so if I saw it first, those lace-up boots could also burn rubber in the opposite direction!

I learned at a young age that an alert minds cultivate an awareness of what is going on around them. In turn, this develops a strong mind that recognizes opportunities when they show up in life.

If you are alert for possibility in every circumstance, and prepared to move, success will be yours.

A strong mind is open to possibilities. It is constantly on the watch for potential opportunities, and works hard to make them happen. Sometimes, it means being alert to rattlesnakes camouflaging as sagebrush; sometimes it can mean embracing a different way of thinking about an obstacle or career change. 

For me, a strong mind—unafraid of the risks in the unknown—led me from the mountains of Wyoming to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

Here are tips on how you can build a strong mind:

1. Look for the Unknown

In FBI firearms training, we were taught to look for the unknown in an arrest situation. Lack of preparedness can result in serious injury—whether you’re a kid spotting a coiled rattlesnake, an FBI agent making an arrest, or an entrepreneur navigating the marketplace.

The most common response to the unknown is that it is something to be feared, challenged, or overcome. While this may be true, the unknown can also be something to be discovered that will lead you into new territory.

TIP: Identify the thoughts and emotions that bubble up when facing the unknown in your life.

  • What metaphor comes to mind?
  • Is it a wave crashing down upon you, a strong wind that takes your breath, or a fire that consumes everything in its path?
  • Or do you look at it like an animal to be tamed, a mountain to be climbed, or a race to be won?

The way in which you perceive the unknown determines how you will navigate it.

2. Engage the Unknown

Just because you don’t like surprises, it doesn’t mean they are not going to happen. Rattlesnakes coil before they strike, but if you’re alert for them, it’s possible to see them, change course, and move out of striking distance.

Pretending you don’t see it and continuing along the same path, will only lead to disaster—and leave you scrambling for an alternative route in a panic.

TIP: Engage the unknown in small steps at first.

  • Ask small questions about the direction your path is headed.
  • Think small thoughts about alternative reactions and responses.
  • Take small actions when confronted with the unexpected.
  • Identify small moments when you met the unknown with confidence.

The secret is small, steady steps that get you closer to your goal.

3. Partner with the Unknown

I grew up with respect and a healthy dose of fear for rattlesnakes but I never let it change my love for exploring the beautiful mountains on our ranch. Rattlesnakes were simply a part of my life. I learned to adapt to my circumstances and not let fear alter my goals.

TIP: Pick one area of your life that you’d like to explore and understand in more depth.

  • What would it take for you to go deeper?
  • Push past what you currently know about it.
  • Take the time to explore multiple dimensions and next-level solutions.

Get used to it now because the unknown is your partner for life.

Courage is doing what you‘re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you‘re scared.”—Eddie Rickenbacker, American aviator

Take Away

There is a difference between being strong-willed and strong-minded—one can cost you your life while the other can save it. A strong mind is unafraid of the unknown but uses wisdom before proceeding.

How have you developed a strong mind?

© 2010 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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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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