Archive for October, 2013

Want Happiness? Find A Path With Heart

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

As a new agent at the FBI Academy, happiness was not a priority. Our instructors took great delight in uncovering our weaknesses. Once discovered, their dry little hearts made it their mission to push us as far into our discomfort zones as possible.

I had trouble with push-ups. My coach made sure he was the one to count them for our interim FIT test. He started out counting each push up. Then we hit a magical number and he kept repeating, “Nine, nine, nine.” I did the ninth push-up nine times before he counted it!

All the while I’m thinking, “I don’t have any reserves left. I’ve wasted them all on the ninth push-up.” I finished that test missing the critical points I needed to graduate from the Academy.

This was one of the most important failures of my life because the consequences were tremendous: I would not become an FBI Agent.

Time and time again, I go back to this failure to explain my success in life. This failure was traumatic. I felt as though I had hit rock bottom and I was filled with desperation. It was at that moment, however, that I heard my calling. Happiness is not how I would describe how I felt about my situation. However, I knew that I had found a path that heart. That happiness in my heart is exactly what created the mental toughness I would need to succeed.

I could not be mentally tough if my heart could not find happiness in what I was doing. My calling was in the direction of the FBI. So I mustered the grit to keep at it until I passed the physical fitness test.

1. Happiness Is Finding A Path with Heart

If there is heart in your path, failure is nothing but another opportunity to try again. Mental toughness enables you to attack the same problem again and again until you succeed. Your tactics may need to change, and you may be required to re-route, but the destination will be the same.

If there is no heart in your path, failure will seem overwhelming. Failure will be enough to persuade you to try something new, and you will keep drifting until you finally succeed at something. Average people stop there—at success. And pretend, or hope, that their heart can be found there.

Failure can be a wonderful clarifying process. It can fortify your determination to succeed, or it can lead your mind to wander so it can consider another direction in life.

Once I realized my career as an FBI Agent was in jeopardy, my calling became crystal clear. I kept working at building up the strength so I could do enough push-ups to pass the test.

2. Distinguish Between Passion and Heart

Passion is an overused and overworked term. When someone starts talking about their passion, I break into a sweat. It usually means their obsession of the moment. It’s easy to be passionate when things are working out, and this is what makes passion so seductive. But when passion ebbs, it can evolve into frustration and annoyance.

Heart, on the other hand, is deeply embedded into the DNA of your being. It is who you are, stripped of all pretenses and baggage. If your failure is attached to a project that has heart, you will not be deterred by a few bumps on the road.

3. Align Goals with Your Calling

Failure may mean that you are misaligned with your calling. If you are aligned with your calling, you will keep moving through storms and cultivate a thick skin that sheds negativity like a raincoat. You may be discouraged, but never down and out.

I passed the final FIT test and became an FBI Agent. Even in the midst of all the worry and anxiety, there was a peace because at the center of my mental toughness was a path with heart.

© 2013 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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The Most Important Skill in Life — Don’t Give Up

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

I watched as my nephew tried to stand on his feet at nine months old. He fell down and returned to crawling before trying to stand again. A few minutes later, he ignored his fears as he pulled himself back onto his feet, wobbled with his first step, and then fell again.

What if infants feared failure? Most of us would probably still be crawling around on all fours. Our fear of failure is irrational; it is supported by an illusion that failure means we are worthless.

The reality is that we cannot fail; we can only produce results. Psychologists recommend we respond to these results with questions such as “What have I learned?” What did I discover that I didn’t start out to discover?” “What worked, or what didn’t work?” Mistakes are portals for discovery. When you try something and produce a result that you did not intend, but find interesting, pursue it. Don’t give up.

It is a paradox of life that we have to learn to fail in order to succeed.

People can fail and still be successful because they don’t give up. Here are 5 traits that distinguish successful people from average performers:

1. Keep At It

  • When average performers fail at something, they try something new.
  • When successful people fail at something, they don’t give up. Instead, they attack the same problem again and again until they succeed.

Rather than run from the failure that is keeping you from success, learn from it and embrace it. Others encounter an adversity, and then give up, moving to other projects until they find something at which they finally succeed. People with mental toughness don’t give up. They keep at it until they find the answer to the problem.

2. Bounce Back

Great leaders, whatever organization or walk of life they are from, always go back to the same failure to explain their success. The failure, without exception, was traumatic and personally very difficult. It made them feel as though they’d hit rock bottom and filled with desperation. As Warren Bennis said, “It’s as if that moment the iron entered their soul; that moment created the resilience that leaders need.”

3. Choose Your Attitude

The odds are good that if you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. Since adversity in life is a given, our success and happiness depend upon our ability to grow because of it. One of the most important decisions you make every day is the attitude with which you greet the world and the obstacles that come with it. Don’t give up; every day, you choose your own happiness.

4. Flexible Mindset

People have one of two belief systems about how the mind works. We have either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe that each time they attempt something it’s a reflection of their intelligence. A fixed mindset sees things in a winner/loser frame and therefore tends to see little that can be done to change the outcome.

But people who are taught that the brain is elastic and that they can become smarter and more competent—that the brain grows, like a muscle, when you work it hard—are less afraid to fail, they succeed more.

5. Be Patient

Success is a slow-cooker, not a microwave. Often showing patience is boring—most of us are stimulated by drama, immediate gratification, and creativity. But patience is a skill, not an inherited trait. Catch your mind from ranting that you shouldn’t be in this situation—you may have lost the battle, but not the war. Don’t give up and keep your eyes on the process—the results will take care of themselves.

The number one skill in life is having the mental toughness to not give up. Failure is life’s great teacher so don’t give up. While it may take a little effort to find it, as Viktor Frankl wisely reminds us, it is always possible to wrench something good out of misfortune.

Failure is where success likes to hide—in plain sight.” ~ Scott Adams

What failures in your life have moved you in a better direction? 

© 2013 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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