Archive for May, 2014

Emotional Intelligence Can Help You Understand Others

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

As an FBI counterintelligence agent, the key to recruiting a foreign spy to work for the U.S. government was forming an accurate assessment of their personality. I used emotional intelligence to understand their personality traits so I could move forward with confidence that I had everything I needed to craft a successful approach.

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Forming a personality assessment allowed me to understand the foreign spy better than he understood himself. The reason is because many people do not possess the emotional intelligence to accurately interpret their own personality—let alone the personalities of others. 

Emotional intelligence had a powerful impact on my career as an FBI agent. 

The nugget of a personality assessment is uncovering the basic fear and desire of each personality type. This helps in interpreting behavior—both good and bad—as well as understanding the motivation behind it.

You cannot be mentally tough if you are not emotionally aware of your environment. 

As leaders, it’s important to build your emotional intelligence skills because tuning into the emotions that control different personalities will help you gain a more accurate view of your surroundings. This awareness impacts both relationships and the bottom line. 

Here are tips on how to use emotional intelligence to interpret and understand other people. I often relied upon the Enneagram to learn how nine personalities types express their emotions:


These folks want to improve the world by using whatever influence they have. They tend to be idealists who use phrases like “Because I say so,” and “You should.” This personality type believes there is a right way to do things, and they are more than willing to teach you. Thus, they can be very judgmental.

Think: Hillary Clinton or Martha Stewart.

Basic fear: being bad, defective, or corrupt in some way; they tend to overcompensate to make up for it. 

Basic desire: to have integrity because they believe that they are OK if they are doing what is right.


Leaders of this type genuinely want to help other people. Going out of their way to help people brings meaning to their life. They see themselves as supporting and empowering others and they often believe that others couldn’t succeed without their help.

Think: Mother Theresa or Eleanor Roosevelt

Basic fear: being unloved and unwanted for themselves alone.

Basic desire: to feel loved because they believe they are OK if they are loved by others.


They know how good it feels to develop themselves and contribute their talents to the world. They can motivate others to greater personal achievement than other thought they were capable of. Often they feel that the world is a contest they can win if they work hard and appear successful.

Think: Donald Trump or Tony Robbins.

Basic fear: being without value apart from their achievements.

Basic desire: to feel worthwhile and accepted because they believe they are OK if they are successful and others think well of them.


Leaders of this type see themselves as both uniquely talented and uniquely flawed. They seek the truth of their experiences and can process pain that might overwhelm others. They seek to be graceful and stylish, and yet feel something is missing.

Think: Vincent Van Gogh or Judy Garland

Basic Fear: having no personal significance or identity.

Basic Desire: to create an identity out of their personal experience because they are OK if they are true to themselves.


People with this personality type want to know why things work the way they do. They are always collecting information, searching, asking questions because they feel a strong need to test assumptions for themselves. They strive to become master of their own world built around special knowledge.

Think: Warren Buffett or Bill Gates

Basic Fear: being helpless and useless.

Basic Desire: to be capable and competent because they are OK if they have mastered something.


These leaders are incredibly loyal to friends and belief systems. They will defend their communities and others more tenaciously than they will fight for themselves. They tend to see the world as a dangerous place and that they need teams they feel are trustworthy allies. 

Think: J. Edgar Hoover or Richard Nixon

Basic Fear: having no support and being unable to survive on their own.

Basic Desire: to find security and support.


Leaders of this type are enthusiastic about almost everything that catches their attention. They approach life with a sense of adventure, optimism, and curiosity. Often, they flit from one idea to the other to stimulate their minds. The world as full of exciting possibilities for them.

Think: Richard Branson or John F. Kennedy

Basic Fear: of being deprived or trapped.

Basic Desire: to be happy and satisfied because they are OK if they get what they need.


This personality type has tremendous willpower and vitality, and they feel most alive when they are exercising these skills in their environment. They cultivate the qualities of persistence, will, and strength and these are the qualities they look for in others. They see themselves as strong and in control of their environment.

Think: John Wayne or George W. Bush

Basic Fear: being harmed or controlled by others.

Basic Desire: to protect themselves and determine their own course in life because they are OK if they are strong and in control of their situation.


These folks are devoted to the quest for internal and external peace in themselves and others. They work to maintain peace of mind just as they work to establish peace and harmony in their environment. They believe that everything will work out if they remain calm, affable, and connected.

Think: Jerry Seinfeld or Ronald Reagan

Basic Fear: to be separated from others.

Basic Desire: to maintain inner stability and peace of mind because they are OK as long as those around them are OK.

Emotional intelligence is a skill that can be learned by anyone, regardless of personality type. The more accurately you can understand yourself and those around you, the more effectively you can motivate them to perform at top levels of performance.


© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

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 Ways Successful People Move Toward Peak Performance

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

The ranch I grew up on in the middle of Wyoming was isolated so it was impossible for my brother and I to attend public schools. Instead, we had a private tutor. The only person I had to compete against in my class was myself, so it was a continual game of personal best. 

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I worked hard to beat my own record, and my teacher would respond by saying, “Look at you—you’ve worked hard to get a better score.”

As I’ve gotten older, I realize that my teacher’s response was incredibly unusual. Instead, most teachers, parents, and others in the educational system respond with, “Look at you—you are so smart.”

Without realizing it, my teacher had a growth mindset which believes that people get better by challenging themselves.

The opposite represents a fixed mindset and is represented by how our educational system distributes grades and how most corporations conduct performance appraisals: talent is something that happens to you, not something you make happen.

Whether you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset influences how you approach peak performance.

Peak performance is successfully using mental toughness to develop the power of the mind and to practice mental skills training in every aspect of life.

Successful people believe that they can challenge themselves to continually grow and improve performance. 

Let’s take a look at how they do this:


We intentionally focus our attention on what is important in our life and those areas we want to grow.

Our consciousness can handle only so much information, so we have selective attention. One key part of the brain which focuses our attention is the Reticular Activating System (RAS). It filters out important information that needs more attention from the unimportant that can be ignored. Without the RAS filter, we would be over-stimulated and distracted by noises from our environment around us.

Focusing on the goal + focusing our attention on the activity to achieve the goal at the same time overstimulates the brain.

Attaining a goal is something that happens in the future, and it pulls our attention away from where it needs to be in order to focus in the present moment. This explains why so many golfers miss a putt at the end of the final round or why football players drop the ball inches from the finish line.

They choke because their attention switched from the present and moved into the future. As a result, they lose their focus.

Whatever we choose to focus our attention on will make it past the mind’s filtering system. 


Successful people establish their goals. They visualize themselves achieving those goals. And then they break those goals down into tiny, clear chunks. 

Successful people understand that clarity gives us certainty.

You and I can also break down our goals into tiny, bite-size tasks and move from there. Small, clear goals keep our attention focused and yet are not enough to stress us out.


In order for feedback to be most effective, it needs to be immediate. The smaller the gap between output and feedback, the more we will know how to perform better. The reason is that our attention does not need to wander because the information is at hand.

If real-time feedback is not possible, find a way to measure your progress. It’s important that your feedback loop is timely. 

For yourself, and others, tighten the feedback loop as much as possible—try to make it a daily habit.


You need to stretch yourself to perform to your greatest potential. Exactly how much you need to stretch each time is debatable, but experts generally agree that the challenge should be 4% greater than either your skill or your last effort.

Increased stress will lead to increased performance—up to a certain degree. When you move beyond the healthy levels of stress, both performance and health will decline. 

In high doses, stress can kill us. Ironically, it is also fundamental to psychological and physical growth. 4% growth is seen by researchers as the magical tension between challenge and skill. Most of move past 4% increase in performance without noticing, and it’s beneficial because this tension keeps us locked in the present and gives us enough confidence that we can do it again. 

Our success begins and ends with our mental toughness. We can move toward peak performance once we find ways to use our mind to do it.

How have you pushed toward peak performance? What tips can you add?

© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE Mental Toughness Assessment

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

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 Things To Do When Life Is Going Wrong

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

My first job out of college was in a fancy department store where I was quickly promoted to Buyer—but then my career stalled. For years I languished in the same dead-end job but when life is going wrong, it’s hard to see a way out of a rut.


I had originally thought being a fashion buyer would be glamour, but it didn’t take long to realize the position was nothing but a dog’s breakfast of whatever junk Headquarters didn’t want on their plate. I was a glorified clerk with a paycheck that ranked alongside those in poverty.

When life is going wrong, my go-to book is the Old Testament text of the Bible.

These folks understood hardship! There I found a compelling story of a Jewish man named Nehemiah who was cup-bearer to the King of Persia almost five hundred years before the birth of Christ. 

After learning that the walls of Jerusalem had broken down, Nehemiah asked for permission to return and rebuild them. So the King sent Nehemiah back as governor to complete this mission.

As I read these verses, I realized and Nehemiah was an expert on rebuilding. He was also an expert in mental toughness.

Here are 5 things I learned from Nehemiah about what to do when life is going wrong: 


The first thing Nehemiah did when the desolation of Jerusalem came to his attention was to grieve. He “weeps and prays for days” showing his intense concern.

Do you have a problem worthy of your attention and energy? Pay close attention to where your heart is broken so you can start doing something positive and constructive to change it.

When life is going wrong, you will never rebuild the walls of it until you give yourself permission to properly grieve for what you have lost.  

Remember that there are two kinds of pain: pain that hurts and pain that changes you. 

When you roll with life, instead of resisting it, both kinds help you grow.


Nehemiah took a long, hard look at the rubble that surrounded him. You will never build the walls of your life until you have first truly noticed the ruins. Have you ever taken a good look at what has gone wrong in your own situation? 

If you are mentally tough, you can look at the ruins and see where to pick up the pieces and move on. Once you do, you will see not only the devastation but the possibilities as well. 

This could mean spending time in solitude, but solitude makes great things possible because it gives you the space you need to focus on your potential. 

If things are good right now, enjoy it; it won’t last forever.  When life is going wrong, don’t worry; it won’t last forever either. 


When Nehemiah comes back to Jerusalem he doesn’t rush out and get everyone excited about the new project. Instead, he rose at night when no one else was around and surveyed the ruins. 

He made an accurate assessment of the situation and then began to make plans for a comeback. He spent time preparing both his head and heart. You need to do the same:

  • Be cautious and start slow
  • Take an honest survey of the situation
  • Take note on what needs to be done.
  • Develop a strategy before you start.


As a child, I loved to show my scars to whomever was interested in learning about my exploits. I was proud of them because the adventure that produced the wound had usually been fun and always fulfilling.

Scars are not injuries; they are wounds that have healed.

Even as a kid I knew that scabs need to be left uncovered so they could get better. Keeping them hidden underneath a bandaid was only a temporary fix.

At some point, we become ashamed of scars and wounds because they represent hurts and failures that overshadow the thrill of pushing our boundaries and taking a risk. Nehemiah was confronted with hostility and assaults as he began rebuilding, but he wore his scars like the tattoo of a warrior who has been inside the ring and lived to tell the tale.

Be proud of your scars because you emerged even stronger than you were before. They indicate you have experienced pain, conquered it, learned a lesson, and moved on when things went wrong.


Nehemiah had a clear plan; it only took fifty-two days to rebuild the walls surrounding Jerusalem!

When life is going wrong, it is merely an opportunity to test your determination on how much you want something. It doesn’t take a lot of mental toughness to pursue the easy stuff that falls your way, but if you really want something, despite failure and rejection, chances are good your heart is in it as well.

This is a fact of life: struggles are not found along life’s path; they are life’s path. The sooner you come to peace with this, the better. Once you find that path, however, there is no better feeling in the world than following the journey of your heart.

Do not be afraid to get back up when things go wrong—keep trying, and eventually you will find a path that leads toward your goals. It may not be the path you originally envisioned, but it will take you where you need to go.

How would you rebuild the walls when life is going wrong? 

© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

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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