Archive for November, 2012

Develop Courage to Keep Going and Not Give Up

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

One of my favorite cartoons growing up was Popeye because he was an ordinary guy who had the courage to do extraordinary things. He drew upon an inner strength when the chips were down and courage was needed to save the day.

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Popeye the Sailor Man did not wake up each day and announce to the world that he was going to be a hero. Instead, he met life as each one of us does everyday—with little fanfare and few fantasies about achieving super human deeds.

It was only when he found himself up against obstacles that threatened to derail his path and journey in life did Popeye reach down, pull out a can of spinach, and summon the courage to break through the barrier in front of him. Popeye was never imprisoned in his own mind by his circumstances or appearance.

No one wants to be a coward. Courage is a valued trait, no matter our background or nationality. Many of us will go to great lengths so others will think we’re courageous. In the Popeye cartoon, reaching down into a pocket for a can of spinach is a clever metaphor—we can all reach deep into ourselves to find the courage needed to overcome the fear we feel when confronted with risk, uncertainty, and the unknown.

We develop courage from mining the our own experiences. Movies tell us that courage is extraordinary and extreme action; in truth, many acts of courage happen deep below the surface in places that only the heart knows about.

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” —Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird

Here are some ways to develop courage to help you keep going:

1. Develop Courage By Taking Responsibility

We have become a society that shirks responsibility for our actions. We point fingers, file lawsuits, and refuse to enter into meaningful discussions: I am right and you are wrong—end of discussion! It is everyone’s fault but ours.

When you avoid taking responsibility for your own actions, you are not showing courage. Courage means taking a chance. If you’re not a little bit scared everyday, you’re not learning. And when you’re not learning, you’re done.

2. Develop Courage By Making A Change

Staying where you are may not be ideal, you tell yourself, but it’s comfortable. You work an 80-hour week, have a rocky marriage, and a dead end job—wow, and you are worried that a change will wreck your life? It takes courage to ask, “Is this all there is? Is there more out there for me?”

You may be staying where you are because it’s predictable and safe. Fear can be a great catalyst for courage in your life. Do not give up, stop pretending that average is OK, admit things are not perfect, and find the courage to make a change.

3. Develop Courage By Staying The Course

For some, the courage to keep going means making a change. For others, it may take more courage not to run away from our circumstances or situation. If the road is rocky but you are on the right path, you may need to stay put. Keep your eye on the goal. It might be easier to jump ship and move in a different direction, but sometimes the greatest act of courage is to stay the course. Don’t blame everything on everyone else. Researcher Brene Brown sums up blame like this: it is a way to discharge pain and discomfort. You can run but you can’t hide. Sometimes it takes more courage to do the interior work rather than shine up the exterior.

4. Develop Courage By Not Giving Up

Life is not supposed to be easy. We are wired for struggle. It’s the reason we need to develop courage if we’re to move forward in life. Just because you’re not where you want to be today, it doesn’t mean you won’t be there someday. Courageous people do not give up. They keep moving and trying. They make mistakes but they don’t quit. Life’s barriers are not there to keep you out; they’re there to give you a chance to show how badly you want something. Have faith in yourself and develop a strong mind to break through your brick wall.

Never give up! It takes courage to keep plowing ahead when confronted with risk, uncertainty, and the unknown. Reach down and pull out of big dose of courage to break through the brick walls that life sometimes throws up when least expected.

“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’

‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.” —George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

© 2012 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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5 Ways You Can Become Authentic

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Leaders become authentic when they know who they are and what they believe. They remain true to themselves, regardless of the situation. 

 

Authenticity is more than self-awareness; it is the ability to share the deepest and truest part of ourselves with others.

Ironically, I found authenticity to be most important component while working as an undercover FBI agent. As you may guess, undercover work was about misrepresenting who I was to the targets of my investigation. I lied about my name, job, and address. I told them I was an expert in something I wasn’t and had a bogus set of credentials to back me up.

Even if the targets were suspicious of my weak background experience and limited professional expertise, I found the most convincing way to persuade them was to be honest about who I was as a person and share the deepest and truest part of myself.

To be a successful undercover agent, I needed to become authentic because it attracted people to me. The only time I really ran into trouble was when I didn’t take the time to be authentic.

Being honest with others is not dependent upon the situation because an authentic person knows who they are in any given moment. They don’t flit from one belief system to another because of a fad, pressure from others, or circumstances.

 

The journey toward authenticity is twofold: 1) discovering our personal values and beliefs, and 2) exhibiting behavior that is consistent with those same values and beliefs. We can become authentic if we are committed to be being true to ourselves—regardless of the situation we are in or the people around us—so we can be real and genuine.

Let’s take a look at five ways you can become authentic:

1. Become Authentic By Discovering Your Strengths

Look inside of yourself and identify your strongest threads. Reinforce them with practice and learning. Carve out a role that draws upon your strengths everyday. Recognize that your greatest room for growth is in the areas of your greatest strengths.

2. Become Authentic By Managing Your Weaknesses

Spend time in identifying your weaknesses. Do not ignore them. Acknowledge that you cannot be talented in all areas. Find ways to manage your weaknesses so you can free up your time to hone your strengths.

3. Become Authentic By Identifying Your Values

Rank the following values in order of importance: integrity, patience, honesty, gratitude, humility, forgiveness, compassion, perseverance, spirituality, joy, and discipline. Expand the list by adding other personal values that are important to you. Explain the importance of each value to your life.

4. Become Authentic By Living Your Values

Commit yourself to living your values. Stay the course regardless of obstacles. Find ways to go over, under, or through the obstacles. Do not go around them—instead, overcome them. Remember that your behavior reflects your values.

5. Become Authentic By Building Relationships

Create genuine relationships by being authentic. Authenticity builds trust and makes us more compelling and attractive leaders. Be prepared for the adversaries that will be created because you’ve remained true to your values and beliefs. Remember that leadership is not about being popular.

In essence, you become authentic when you know what you believe and why you believe it. If you do, your world won’t fall apart when the unexpected shows up.

© 2012 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.” 

 

 

3 Things You Should Be Able To Say About Your Purpose

Monday, November 5th, 2012

 

During my four months of training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, I was ensconced in a culture that valued physical strength. Surrounded by athletes and former police officers, I found myself in a hostile environment that openly questioned my qualifications to become an FBI agent, even though I had scored exceptionally high on cognitive and personality tests. I was perceived as being both female and powerless.

Feeling defeated, criticized, and beaten down, I refused to let the way that others defined me at the FBI Academy change the way I defined myself. Instead of being intimidated, their criticism only fueled my determination. I developed the mental toughness to break through the barriers that stood between me and my goal of becoming an FBI agent. I knew I needed to find a way to signal to myself, and to others around me who were skeptical of my abilities, that I was leadership material.

My dream of becoming an FBI agent was threatened by my lack of ability to churn out 35 push-ups. The stage between finding a purpose that has meaning and finding a way to break through the barriers keeping me from pursuing that purpose was a tough place to be, because that is when I began to doubt myself and my future.

What makes the difference between those who persist and those who give up? I believe it’s a strong mind. If you are pursuing something that holds value and meaning for you, you will find the willpower you need to succeed.

“It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more manhood (or womanhood) to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflex. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind.”—Alex Karras

Most successful people have taken risks, failed more than once, and persisted in pursuing their purpose. So what strengthens a strong mind when things look their darkest? The answer is willpower.

To activate your willpower, you must be able to remind yourself WHY your goal is important to you. Meaningless tasks or a path without heart will not activate it. When you have a purpose, you will find the willpower to achieve your goals in life.

Here are three things you should be able to say about yourself as you pursue the goals that lead to your purpose in life:

1. I chose the things that truly matter

Don’t get distracted by cars, houses, and stuff. Put first things first. Where you are in life is temporary; where you will end up in life is permanent. How you get there is entirely up to you, so when things don’t go the way you expected them to go, don’t give up. The hardest and smartest way to live is by choosing what truly matters, and pursuing it with passion.

2. I believe in myself and my purpose

The most difficult phase of life is not when no one understands you; it’s when you don’t understand yourself. Start focusing on what you need to do to succeed in your current situation and then be the best at it. Do not let yourself think or feel like a victim. Do not abandon your dream and goals because your plans did not initially work out the way you wanted them to. You may have to be flexible and revise your goals a few times to better fit your circumstances.

3. I have faith I will achieve my purpose in life

Have faith that if you put out your best effort and commit yourself to this work with all your energy, you will find a way to your goal. There will always be obstacles to block your path. They are not there to stop you; they are there to challenge you. The obstacles are what make the achievement worthwhile.

When you are confronted with a barrier that prevents you from reaching your goal, you have two choices: let it stop you, or persist and find a way to use the challenge as a stepping stone on the path toward achievement and success.

Tough-minded does not mean hard-hearted. Tough-minded people know how to keep calm and remain focused on their goal. Develop a strong mind and choose to persist in the face of obstacles.

How have you developed your willpower when pursuing your purpose in life?

© 2015 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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