Archive for August, 2012

How To Pick Friends Wisely

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

I grew up on a large cattle ranch in a remote part of Wyoming so I didn’t know how to pick friends wisely. We were hours away from the nearest small town so I went to a little country school with one other pupil—my brother. 

During my grade school years, I didn’t have friends as I didn’t count my brother as one. Instead, we took turns taunting each other at recess.

It was a lonely existence. When I started to attend a public school at the age of fourteen, I quickly learned that friendship building is an art, and one that can be quite messy at times.

Back then, I wasn’t picky about friends.  I just thought the more, the better. Friends meant I was popular, and when you’re a kid who is different from everyone else, that matters a great deal.

At first I thought that once I grew older, friendships would be more sincere and less superficial. I also used to believe in Santa Claus, so call me gullible. As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve realized that I deserved better than friends who either would not or could not help me become my best self.

Plato once said, “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.”

If we are not nourished, our souls will choke and wither away. Jesus warned against putting down roots in poor soil. We grow where we are planted, and rich soil is likened to a noble and good heart. We are empowered to move forward with confidence as leaders.

Learn how to pick friends wisely—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 who value them as much as you do.

Here are 5 ways:

1. How To Pick Friends Wisely—Change Whom You Hang Around With

You have different friends for different parts of your life. If you have moved into a phase of life where you’re determined to set your own course, find people who can help you visualize what that future can look like. Like it or not, you become similar to the friends you hang out with. Your associations have a lot to do with where you’re at in every area of your life. Your friends are going to influence your behavior, so why not pick ones who will be a positive influence?

2. How To Pick Friends Wisely—Establish A Benchmark

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 friends who will.

3. How To Pick Friends Wisely—Find People To Help You Achieve Your Dreams

Make a list of five people whom you trust to listen to you attentively and tell them about your dreams and goals. Sharing details of our life creates trust, and if you don’t feel you can trust a person with the most vulnerable part of yourself—your dream—find someone else for a friend.

4. How To Pick Friends Wisely—Create An Advisory Board

Identify a group of friends who can help nourish the best in you. Meet with them regularly. Advisory Boards are made up of people who will lift you up, challenge, inspire, and hold you accountable.

5. How To Pick Friends Wisely—Find A Mentor

Have you ever talked with someone who thought you could accomplish more than you thought you could? Who gave you permission to follow your dreams? Who saw more in you than you saw in yourself? This is exactly the kind of person who would make a great mentor and encourage you to move toward your goals.

One of the best moves you can make in life is to surround yourself with friends who see the potential in you that you may not even see in yourself.

What criteria do you have for finding good friends who help you be your best self?

© 2012 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 Triumph Over Obstacles

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

I learned how to triumph over obstacles at the age of eleven. I rode my bike on a cow trail east of our ranch house in Wyoming. I sped along at a good clip, too fast to notice a coiled rattlesnake on the other side of rock—until the snake struck out at full length.

My bike flipped, and as I landed, I felt dozens of pricks all over my arms and hands. My mind raced with fear because I thought the rattlesnake had bitten me. We lived on a remote ranch in the mountains and it was a two-hour drive on dirt roads to a hospital. At eleven, I prepared myself to die of snake poisoning.

Right about the time I was mourning the loss of what could have been a spectacular life, I noticed that I had landed in a pile of cactus. The wreck of my bike told me the rest of the story—the snake had struck the spokes of the front wheel and was now struggling to get out of the broken and bent spoke wires.

My first instinct was to run home to safety, but my parents had taught me that if I wanted to triumph over obstacles, I couldn’t run away from adversity. Living on a remote ranch meant that I had to be ready to face a crisis on my own because there would not be anyone else around to fight my battle for me. The first thing I did was find a good sized rock and make sure that particular rattlesnake would never terrorize my cow lane, or any other, again.

Then I loaded the bike on my shoulders and carried the sorry mess home.

Years later, as an FBI agent, I realized that our reaction to adversity plays a big role in determining how strong minds are formed and resilience developed. New research suggests that resilience to adversity in our life may be linked to how often we face it. The number of blows a person has taken may affect their mental toughness more than any other factor.

This is the same lesson faced by the early Christians who were being thrown into dungeons by the Romans. The apostle Paul wrote the following in his letter to the Romans: “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4).

It seems the School of Hard Knocks has been around awhile.

Adversity and challenges force us to:

  • Cope with our situation.
  • Learn about our own capabilities.
  • Identify our support networks

A person with a strong mind is someone who can predict the way they will respond to unpredictable situations where events do not unfold according to plan. They can look back at how they’ve responded to situations in the past, learn from those experiences, and apply that knowledge to future ones. In other words, they are resilient and know how to bounce back after a traumatic event.

Adversity empowers you with the confidence that you can come out of any situation. Here are a few tips to help you triumph over obstacles:

Tip #1 OVERCOME YOUR FEARS

My first reaction to the rattlesnake was a healthy dose of fear. At some point, however, I had a choice of letting that fear control me. If it did, it meant I ran home and waited for my parents to take care of both the snake and my bike. If I didn’t let fear control me, it meant I got myself out of the situation using my own resources.

Develop an understanding of your fear. Chances are good that your fear comes from feelings of insecurity  you may have about yourself. It takes courage to look inwardly into the darkest part of your personality. Often, there is a child with an unfulfilled need. Find someone you can trust, and who respects you, and discuss the source of your fear.

Tip #2 TAKE RISKS

Even though I grew up on a cattle ranch in Wyoming, I had never shot a gun in my life before entering the FBI Academy. I took a risk that I would get through firearms training and find my new life rewarding. I quit my job, sold my car, and placed my future in the hands of the FBI. It was one of the best risks I’ve ever taken.

Move outside your comfort zone. When was the last time you took a risk? We get too comfortable in life, whether it’s business or family, and stay there because it feels safe—and comfortable. We settle. When was the last time you took a risk? Don’t let a crisis be the first time you move outside of your comfort zone. Learn now to triumph over obstacles—before you really need to.

Tip #3 PRACTICE

The coaches at the FBI Academy drew a bead on me the minute they learned I couldn’t do push-ups. My life suddenly became centered on the gym and the FBI’s physical fitness requirements. This was an important time to triumph over obstacles because if I didn’t quality, I wouldn’t graduate from the academy—I had taken a risk and quit my job. I spent eighteen weeks struggling but in the end, I made it. Building a strong mind is a little like building strong muscles; it cannot develop without exercise. It breaks down when overworked. It weakens when not practiced enough.

Triumph over obstacles by embracing challenges rather than finding ways to avoid them.

© 2012 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.” 

 

6 Simple Reasons For Journaling

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

I have kept a journal since my college days. Journaling can be an extremely powerful activity—and I would recommend it as a daily pursuit.

 

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

Journaling Taps Into Your Subconscious And Your Inner Wisdom

This is where you will find your authentic voice—the one who knows who you really are, what you want, and how to get there. This is how you will develop a strong mind that can continue to lead in changing and volatile environments.

Journaling Peels Back Layers Of Your Personality

This can be a scary process for some because, in the process, it will expose your vulnerabilities. Self-awareness, however, is a powerful component of mental toughness. The better you know yourself, the better you can predict your response to the unknown.

Journaling Forces You To Slow Down

This will help you become more grounded

We get so busy with life that we can no longer hear that inner voice. We often have the answers to the questions we ask but we don’t slow down enough for that voice to be heard. This is why different forms of meditation are so popular; our breathing slows, shoulders relax, and our head begins to clear.

Journaling Is A Form Of Meditation

It forces us to be present in the moment, getting in touch with that part of ourselves that is wise and authentic. We let go of everything else in our life and just BE.

I have found that target practice with my gun is also a form of meditation. It is a discipline of the mind because it requires the shooter to be present and to let go of errant thoughts and distractions. Both journaling and target practice require a single focus of thought.

Journaling Guides Us toward A More Positive Attitude 

Begin each session with this single sentence: “What am I grateful for today?” It’s amazing what happens when you direct your thoughts in a positive way. Asking specific questions as you write can also help you get clarity about what you want and help you set or keep your eye on your goals. Writing out thoughts can help give you direction during a major life transition when you need to sort out your feelings and thoughts.

Journaling Helps Us Connect With Our Heart

I tend to think my way through an issue rather than feel my way through. Over the years, I’ve come to trust my mind over my heart. I firmly believe that the only way to be a more authentic person is to pay attention to the inner voice that is strongly connected to heart, mind, and gut instinct. One should not be dominant over the other and neither should one be shoved into a place of less importance.

I have specific requirements for my journal. I buy flat bound notebooks that are thin so my hand rests well when writing. I don’t like ringed notebooks that impede handwriting across either page. I do not use computer journals because the act of writing helps me to disentangle my thoughts. I allow myself to wrestle through issues, process events, and interpret conversations. This helps me to understand the context in which these things are happening in my life. Life happens so quickly that, unless I journal, I don’t take the time to stop and reflect on where I’m heading.

My Journal Rules

I want to make sure the journaling process was as easy as possible, so I have no excuses. These are some of my rules that have worked very well for me:

  1. Set aside time. I keep my notebook where I have coffee in the morning. Since I’m a morning person, it’s logical that I write in my journal when my mind is rearing to go. There is no better way to start the morning than with a cup of strong black coffee and a fresh page in a journal. It becomes part of the morning routine, before email or the newspaper.
  2. Create a sacred space. It’s essential for me to create a space in which I can write, and think, in private—without distractions of dogs or people. If you have the space, it could be an entire room. For me, it’s a chair in my family room, and if my miniature Labradoodle, Gus, joins me, he knows to curl up on the other chair. I have friends who journal in their car while waiting to pick up their kids from school. A park bench would be perfect, or a coffee shop—anywhere you feel you can be alone with your thoughts.
  3. Eliminate distractions. Except for my Labradoodle puppy, I am alone when I journal. If I have the time, I spend a few minutes reading scripture before journaling. Even Gus is a blessing in this time of reflection if he jumps up on my lap. At first I’m angry he disturbs my quiet time. And then, he leans into me and looks up at me with adoring eyes. He doesn’t need to do anything except communicate to me that he loves me, and I realize that is how God wants us to show up. Gus doesn’t do anything to earn my love; he simply shows up, trustingly lays his head on my chest, and slips into a restful sleep. I am overwhelmed by how simple a good and fulfilled life can be.
  4. Start slowly. Journaling is not the place to solve the world’s problems, though it’s a great place to starting solving your own. Sentences do not have to be complete. In fact, bullet points are an excellent way to get started. You will be amazed at how much your life will improve by simply spending a few minutes a day the things that you are grateful for.
  5. Focus. One of the most important aspects of journaling is that is a tool that helps me recognize whether I’ve focused on the important stuff during the day, or whether I’ve wasted it on worrying about the stupid stuff that withers like dried grass and blows away.
  6. Get out of your own way. Don’t be the elephant in the room. Don’t be the one thing that is never discussed but cannot be avoided. Let your words flow onto the page without passing judgment on yourself or others. Don’t worry about censoring your thoughts and concerns. Remember that this journal is just for you—no one else will see it. Feel safe in putting the real you out there on paper. If you’re worried that your deep, dark secrets will be discovered, destroy your journal later on.

Life is a journey—perhaps the longest journey most of us will ever make. Journaling is a companion in that journey to help you toward personal growth, self-awareness, and empowerment. The best journeys are the one in which you find yourself.

How has journaling helped you on your life’s journey? What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from journaling? What suggestions can you offer to those who are interested in journaling?

© 2012 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.”