Archive for July, 2017

3 Beliefs Of People Who Refuse To Quit

Monday, July 31st, 2017

I have always admired people who refuse to quit, but when my cover was blown on my first undercover assignment, I had no choice but to throw in the towel.

I worked on building the backbone to find other ways to get back in the game. I was resilient and kept at it until another opportunity presented itself.

Resilience is not just about having backbone. It’s building up everything that supports our backbone, starting with the way we think about the negative events that happen in our life. Let’s face it, we need resilience when the shit hits the fan and things go bad. If everything was a bed or roses, we would never need to dig down to find greater strength and deeper meaning.

Mental toughness is developing a tough mindset that refuses to quit when life throws a curveball. People who refuse to quit are game-ready when opportunities show up as obstacles.

Martin Seligman is a psychologist who has spent decades studying how people deal with setbacks. In his book, Learned Optimism, he states that we all have a way of explaining the bad events that happen to us. This habit of thought starts in childhood and stems from our view of our place in the world.

The crux of mental toughness is being willing to take responsibility for our actions.  As Seligman states, people cannot learn how to be resilient unless they assume responsibility for the way they think about themselves. Maintaining positive beliefs about our abilities and our situation can enable us to become people who refuse to quit or give up on ourselves.

Here are 3 beliefs of people who refuse to quit:

1. Nothing Is Permanent

When I learned the undercover project would be shut down, I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. Failure hurts and it’s stupid to pretend it doesn’t. Failure makes everyone helpless, at least for that moment.

The difference between remaining helpless and bouncing back is by accepting that negative events are simply a part of the human condition. Aging, dying, and pain are inevitable. Joy, laughter, and happiness are also inevitable. And all will dissipate despite our best efforts to make them last forever.

Seligman states that people who refuse to quit do not feel that negative events will always happen to them. They also do not feel as though an opportunity will never come their way again.

The two key words to remember are always and never. Banish those words from your vocabulary and replace them with sometimes and lately. The negative event or situation becomes transient rather than permanent.

Affective forecasting is predicting how you will feel in the future. As it turns out, we’re terrible at it. We’re not good judges of what will make us happy. For example, in predicting how events like winning the lottery might affect their happiness, people are likely to overestimate how wonderful their life will become.

The same is true of interpreting how negative events will affect their life. People overestimate how their life will be ruined or negatively impacted by the event.

How To Make It Work For You: When you are down in the dumps and beating up on yourself, think about how much worse things could be for you. This forces you to identify the stuff in your life for which you are grateful.

2. Get Specific About Pervasiveness

It was tempting for me to throw up my hands and declare that I would never be an effective undercover agent. This would be a universal, or blanket explanation, that implied I lacked the ability to ever be good at it.

Instead, I got specific about why my cover had been blown. I was helpless, and a failure—in that particular situation. However, I also knew I could learn from that experience and move on.

People who refuse to quit are not drama queens who make every negative event a catastrophe. Yes, crap happens but people who refuse to quit narrow down the reasons why something was a failure. They are specific about what went wrong and why. Again, they are willing to accept responsibility for their actions and for the way they think about themselves.

“Catastrophizing” implies that you are a loser in all areas of your life, not just in the troubled area. This thinking is pervasive and can lead to people giving up on everything.

How To Make It Work For You: Hope is the cure for catastrophizing. Finding specific causes for misfortune is the art of hope. When you are confronted with a misfortune, check that your self-talk is not hopeless. Instead, inject a large dose of hope into your language.

3. Be Wary Of Personalization

I blamed myself for my failure as an undercover agent. I needed to take responsibility, and I did. As a result, my self-esteem plummeted. I began to see myself as worthless and not making a significant contribution to my squad.

I personalized the incident, and as a result, it affected the way I felt about myself.

They way we think about permanence and pervasiveness affects the things we do. The way we personalize a negative event controls how we feel about ourselves. People who never give up like themselves because they believe they are, and have been, the catalyst for good things. They do not believe good things come from other people or circumstances.

They accept that failure and misfortune will happen along the way, but they have hope that they will be resilient and bounce back because they’ve done it before.

Remember that personalization can be internal, where you blame yourself for what has happened. It can also be external, where you blame everyone else for your misfortune.

How To Make It Work For You: Optimism is not about ignoring life’s challenges. It’s the mental toughness to discipline our minds to create more powerful explanations about what is going on in our life.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

The One Characteristic That Makes Great Leaders

Monday, July 24th, 2017

The FBI will spend a great deal of time, effort, and money in training agents to be great leaders because agents need to be able to land on their feet when confronted with the unknown.

They also need to know how to get people to trust them with their lives, persevere when challenged with adversity, and always come out on the right end of a terrorism case. Great leaders understand how to move when roadblocks threaten their success.

The one characteristic that makes FBI agents great leaders is honesty. Lack of candor will get an agent fired quicker than any other mistake or transgression.

It’s drilled into agents that they always represent the FBI and their actions are a reflection of the organization. By making honesty a key value, the public understands they can trust agents to do their job.

New and unique ideas are essential for entrepreneurs and business owners. But the ability to successfully execute these ideas is what separates dreamers from great leaders. When money is tight, stress levels shoot through the roof and instant success takes time, so it can be hard to always take the higher moral ground.

It takes more than honesty to admit a mistake. It also takes humility, conscientiousness, and an admirable ability to feel guilty when you are less than honest in your dealings with others.

Here is a closer look at the 3 components of honesty to better understand why honesty is the one characteristic that makes great leaders:

1. HUMILITY

Please remember that being humble does not mean being a chump.

Studies confirm that business leaders from both large and small companies who possessed humility as a core trait were rated as far more ethical and trustworthy than their counterparts. They are also able to elicit better employee engagement and job performance.

If you aspire to rank among the great leaders, you need to be humble because your business will only be successful if your team can come together and problem-solve. By being humble and stepping back, you are creating space for others to contribute. Unless you are intellectually humble, you are unable to learn.

How To Make This Work For You

  1. Share your mistakes as teachable moments—by being honest and admitting your own mistakes, you make it OK for others to make a mistake as well.
  2. Engage in dialogue, not debates—don’t get caught up in trying to prove your point of view. Instead, use this as an opportunity to learn about the way other people think.
  3. Forget being wishy-washy—humility indicates that you are confident enough to make a bold statement and then step back to see if you were right.

2. CONCIENTIOUSNESS

A staggering amount of research links conscientiousness with success and great leaders. A National Institute of Mental Health study found that conscientious people earn higher salaries. The National Institute on Aging also found that conscientiousness is linked to income and job satisfaction.

While other traits like extroversion predicts outcomes in some situations, studies have found that conscientiousness has as much impact on a leader’s success as extraversion. Conscientious people tend to be more dependable and achievement-focused, traits that help them rise to the top.

Conscientious people become great leaders because they do things better than others. They set goals, work toward them, and persist when things go wrong. 

Remember the conscientious kids in your classroom? They were the ones who sat in their chairs, didn’t complain, and didn’t blame their teachers when they didn’t receive a top grade. They had the mental toughness to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behavior in ways that would set them up for success.

How To Make It Work For You:

  1. Balance relationships and work—conscientious people are often more task-oriented than people-oriented, so make sure to balance the two equally.
  2. Delegate with care—conscientious people can and do deliver. If one reports to you, resist the temptation to burn them out by overburdening them with work.
  3. Provide structure—conscientious people tend to work best when there are clear rules, high ethical standards, and a clearly articulated vision.

3. GUILT-ACCEPTANCE

The personality trait of guilt-acceptance taps into a person’s healthy levels of guilt. Unhealthy guilt looks more like shame—shame is feeling bad about oneself while guilt is feeling bad about one’s behavior.

A leader’s ability to feel guilty about their wrong doing has been found to be a direct predictor of success. Researchers found that MBA students who scored higher on guilt-acceptance were rated as more effective leaders by their former supervisors, peers, and clients.

Great leaders seek out those who are prone to admitting their guilt when hiring and promoting their staff. People who are honest and anticipate that they would feel bad about their behavior after doing something wrong are better able to get along and get results. They take responsibility for their actions.

How To Make It Work For You:

As a leader, you are often placed in situations where you are either hiring or promoting an employee. Ask these questions: “Please describe a time when you made a mistake at work. How did you feel when this occurred? What did you do? What, if anything, did you learn from the experience?”

Never forget that when you make honesty a key value, you generate the trust that is needed to truly make you a great leader.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

4 Reasons Diversity Creates Teams That Are Mentally Tough

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Diversity was essential when putting together an FBI undercover operation because when I worked with people with different ideas and opinions, it sharpened my thinking.

My squad mates offered great advice on the basics of an investigation. Undercover work, however, requires creativity and strategic planning. I needed to work with people who would challenge my brain to overcome its stale and predictable ways I looked at an issue or project.

A study by McKinsey in 2015 in the public sector came to the same conclusion. Diverse teams were found to be 35% more likely to be successful. Another 2015 study of more than 20,000 firms in 91 countries found that companies with female executives were more profitable.

Many focus on diversity solely as a medley of genders, races, and ethnicity. However, it’s critical to also include differences in experience, age, intelligence, personality, background, and culture. True diversity brings together a team of people who think, feel, and behave differently from one another.

Mental toughness is managing our thoughts, emotions, and behavior in ways that set us up for success. Diverse teams overcome stagnant patterns of ways we think and sharpen performance.

Here are 4 reasons diversity creates teams that are mentally tough:

1. FOCUS ON FACTS

Diverse teams are often a combustible combination of thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Differing opinions can derail a team’s success if they’re not managed properly. This means diversity creates a need to focus on facts.

When teams focus on facts instead of personal differences, members are no longer outsiders. Instead, they unify to interpret the facts in ways that will move the project toward success.

TIP: Refocus the team’s conversations so they discuss available evidence or fact to counter mounting tensions. 

2. BRINGS FRESH INSIGHT

On a homogenous team, people understand each other and collaboration often flows smoothly—to a point. If everyone thinks the same way and says the same thing, is progress really being made?

On a diverse team, friction may be felt which can feel counterproductive at first. Neuroscientist David Rock states that working on diverse teams produces better outcomes precisely because it is harder.

Homogenous teams may feel more effective at first. The real truth is that people with different backgrounds bring new information and insight. Interacting with people who are different forces each team member to prepare better and anticipate alternative viewpoints.

TIP: Diversity forces teams to process information more carefully because they are not homogenous. Teams become mentally tough when they not only search for, but seriously consider, new insight from each team member. This leads to a more vigorous discussion before decisions are made. As a result, more options for problem solving are considered.

3. CHANGES THINKING

I brought in a variety of people to help me organize undercover operations because I needed informational diversity. I brought people together to solve the problem on how to structure an undercover operation against a foreign spy in the United States. Each one brought in different ideas, opinions, and perspectives.

People who are different in experience, culture, gender, age, race, and other areas bring unique information. Often this can change a stale way of thinking. Exposure to diversity can change the way your team thinks.

TIP: Research has shown that it is a good idea to highlight differences because this tends to make those differences be taken seriously by all members of the team. These were the teams that came up with better ideas than homogenous teams. But, only when they were told to listen to, and respect, the perspectives of their teammates.

4. BOOSTS PRODUCTIVITY

A study in 2014 from MIT suggests that having a more diverse set of employees means you also have a more diverse set of skills. This means your team will function more productively. This same study confirms that more diversity meant a better bottom line.

Greater diversity implies a greater spread of experience which can add value and knowledge to a team’s productivity. However, I found that productivity also requires something else—a common goal.

A solid undercover operation requires everyone to have the same goal in mind—recruit a foreign spy. It was this common purpose that unified the diverse members of my team so we could create a proposal that would be successful.

TIP: Expect diverse teams to be more productive and creative but only if a common goal or purpose unifies them.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

5 Reasons Why All This Happiness Bullshit Is A Lie

Monday, July 10th, 2017

I feel happiness when I eat my favorite ice cream, joy when my 25lb Labradoodle sleeps on my lap or gazes into my eyes, and contentment when I can share the truest part of myself with trusted friends.

While most of us wish for happiness, very few of us ever define what happiness means to us or what happiness feels like.

If you can’t define what that happiness looks like to you, your life will suck. Self-help books on happiness are everywhere, but often do nothing more than remind you of exactly what you don’t have.

Here are 8 reasons why all this happiness shit is a lie—and how you can change your mindset:

1. Happiness Is Transitory

If you think about it, the transitory things in life are happiness-based. Once the ice cream is gone, I’ll look for something else. Happiness claims our full attention for a few moments, and then disappears as soon as it passes through our life. It doesn’t have the same heft as an emotion like sadness, joy, or contentment. It’s a bit of fluff; nice, but of no real consequence.

We can be happy with a big house, a big career, and big diamonds. We can lose houses, careers, and material things. That does not mean we will live in misery.

How To Make It Work For You

Replace the stuff, people, and the problems they bring with a stillness that resides deep within you. It is exactly in that stillness that you will find the joy and contentment that resides within, dependent upon nothing external in order to exist.

2. Happiness Looks To The Future

Happiness relies on outside situations, people, or events to align with our expectations so that the end result is our happiness. It is linked to the hope that “some day when I meet the right person” or “when I have a second home,” or “when I get the right job.”

If we rely on external circumstances to make us happy, we are never in control.

How To Make It Work For You

Since happiness is reliant upon external circumstances, we tend to put our happiness off to some point in the future. Joyful people prepare for the future, but they also know they cannot control it.

Learn to adjust to the surprises that the future holds for you rather than lament on how unlucky you are.

3. Happiness Suppresses Negative Emotions

I’m a big believer in positive thinking, but I also believe that negative emotions can teach us incredible lessons. The key is to be honest about what we are feeling; if it is negativity, get to the bottom of it. Pretending we don’t have negative emotions or tamping them down so they can’t surface is extremely unproductive and unhealthy.

Constant positivity is an avoidance system because it forces us to deny the existence of life’s problems. True happiness, joy, and contentment is found in our ability to work through our struggles, not deny they exist.

How To Make It Work For You

Negative emotions are a call to action. If they spiral downward into depression, take them to a professional therapist. But just because something feels good, it doesn’t mean it is good. And just because something feels bad, it doesn’t mean it is bad. Fear produces negative emotions, but we need to differentiate between a negative nagging emotion that is prompting us to move into action and those that are warning of a threat to our life.

4. Happiness Relies Too Much On Shitty Values

Most people have no idea of their personal values. They imitate what they see in others, in movies, or in books. If you don’t have a clue of what is important to you, you’ll never find happiness let alone the deeper emotions of joy and contentment.

Have the mental toughness to define what truly gives you happiness, and ultimately, joy and contentment. When you prioritize your values, you will see which values are ones worth suffering for and which ones are crap and should be be thrown out.

Prioritize your values and you will notice that none of them will feel like your old idea of happiness.

Contentment and joy are deeply embedded into our set of values. They can’t be bought and they don’t rest on someone else’s behavior. We can get fired, dumped, or pulled through the coals and still feel joy deep in our heart.

How To Make It Work For You

Fill in the answer to this sentence:

I value ______ because I need _______ and _______.

My answer: I value honesty because I need truth and authenticity.

Honesty, truthfulness, and authenticity are the values by which I measure my success and failure. These are the standards by which I judge myself and those around me. I seek out people, community, and situations that will allow me to live by my truest values. This produces happiness, yes, but something even more important: joy and contentment.

What about you?

5. Happiness Denies The Value of Struggle And Pain

Some of life’s greatest moments are full of pain, suffering, and struggle. Ask any parent, small business owner, or marathon runner.

Our values are defined by what we are willing to struggle to achieve. If something holds value for us, we will endure the pain and struggle of making it happen. The person we are (or will become) is defined by the way we overcome our struggles, suffering, and pain. Our greatest moments in life will be defined by these things, not by our pathetic attempts at happiness.

Joy is a lasting attitude while happiness is an ephemeral emotion. Demand more from life than a few fleeting moments of an emotion that draws its power from others. Instead, dare yourself to dig down deep and find joy.

It is in our choices that we become mentally tough. We learn to prioritize our emotions, thoughts, and behavior so we can pick what is important to us based on our values and beliefs.

How To Make It Work For You

Good values are achieved internally; bad values rely upon external circumstances. Once you’ve defined your values, prioritize them. What are the values you place above all else? These are the ones that influence the decisions you make in work and life.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”