Archive for the ‘personal leadership’ Category

The Truth About 3 Great Career Tips That You’ll Never Hear

Monday, July 9th, 2018

The career advice we receive changes as we age. As children, we’re encouraged to dream big about the things we want to accomplish in life. We grow up and assume we’ll do what we love.

As we become adults, the message starts to focus on how we can be successful. We begin to look at the subjects in which we excel in school. Grades become the measuring stick of our future.

Most of all, we’re told to be practical, find a good job, and stay there.

Those messages muddle our thinking when we seek out career advice. We look for ways to be successful rather than pursue the things we love. Too often, success is where we stop on our journey to what we truly want to do in life.

It takes mental toughness to say, “I want to create my own path” because it may not be where you found success. You may need to move out of your comfort zone to escape the mediocrity that has been aided and abetted by your career choices.

Success and self-awareness can happen at the same time, but they are not the same thing. If our quest for success is not in alignment with what matters most to us, we’ll be left empty and disappointed in the end.

Success is a competitive game. It triggers a breathless sprint to be the happiest, the richest, the sexiest, the most admired—you get the picture. This is the feedback loop from hell because today’s success story is always replaced by tomorrow’s newer, better thing.

The Stoics would say that being a good person, doing what matters most to you, and doing the right thing are the important things in life. It’s OK if you don’t find the cure for cancer or write the great American novel. What is important is choosing what matters most to you in life. And, what does not matter.

As successful leaders, entrepreneurs, and business owners, you’ve treated your career as a business. A business becomes prosperous when it has a clear vision for itself in the marketplace. Goals come later, after the vision is defined.

The same goes for you. In the absence of a vision for your life, goals are nothing more than a long to-do list.

Here is the truth about 3 great career tips that you will never hear—they are simple, but very important, if you want a career built around what is meaningful to you:

1. Answer The Right Question

This is a clarifying exercise I did while in seminary. We turned to the person next to us and asked, “What do you want?” We asked the question and waited for the answer. Then we asked it again and again—fifteen times. At first the answers were predictable: “I want a new car, I want a bigger house, I want to make more money, etc.”

After the mind is cleared of the superfluous stuff, deeper issues start to come out. “I want to be loved, I want to serve God, I want to help people tap into their inner strength.”

TIP:

The key is asking the same question fifteen times to dig beneath the surface to uncover what matters most to you. Everyone’s answers will be different, and the person to whom you are talking doesn’t even need to be a friend, but it does need to be someone you trust.

2. Remember the Crossroads

We have all been forced to make choices. Many of them had little impact on the direction of our life. Some, however, were big ones—crossroads choices—that moved us in a new direction. For example: in my second year at college I had to choose my major. My heart told me to pursue a degree in history, but my head told me that a degree in business management would be more marketable.

After I retired from the FBI, I knew I wanted to go back to school. I found myself revisiting the same question; again, I decided not to pursue the history degree and enrolled at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Any doubt I had about whether history would ever be more than a hobby was now firmly decided—it would not.

TIP:

  • Concentrate on one period of your life at a time
  • Go back to a particular period in your life and identify a crossroad event
  • Write up three paragraphs describing the crossroad event as best you can
  • Focus on the key factors that influenced your decision
  • Would those same factors influence your decision today?

3. Embrace Your History

Do not fear the future; instead, read the past.

Don’t live in the past, but it’s a great place to visit. Looking back, for most people, is usually a mixed bag. There are bright moments, but there are also shadows. To truly understand ourselves, however, we need to delve into both the light and the shadow.

Life is hard. Pain is inevitable. Growth is optional.

It does no good to make excuses or blame others for your situation. Successful people do not see themselves as a victim—ever! Instead, they recognize that their situation may not be perfect right now but they also know they have the power to change it.

One of the most important tools an investigator uses is surveillance. It allows agents to gain an understanding of the target’s habits, routines, and contacts.

TIP:

Place yourself under surveillance. Go back in your history and identify an inflection point—actions, people, ideas, or events that moved your life in a new direction.

How did you change during that period? How did it contribute to what you are today? To assist with this, recall the following:

  • Key people
  • Activities that demanded time and attention
  • Important ideas
  • The nature of your inner life: dreams for your life, longings, and emotions
  • The nature of your health: exercise, sports, and illness
  • Creative impulses that shaped you
  • External events that shaped you

Summary

If you don’t grow, everything becomes a repetition of the past. As leader of your life, decide which behaviors served you well enough that you want to repeat. Conversely, identify the behaviors and reactions that you don’t want to repeat so you can let go of what doesn’t work for you.

© 2018 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 Easy Ways To Persuade Others That You Are Trustworthy

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

FBI agents tend to be hard chargers who look at the world in terms of black or white, right or wrong, legal or illegal. It’s important that we are perceived as trustworthy because if the public cannot place its trust in us, we can no longer do our job.

The FBI is under deserved scrutiny for its investigation into the 2016 election. In my time as an agent, we welcomed outside inquiries because it’s essential that investigators be non-partisan and non-biased. Lessons from our history books remind us that the result is not always morally acceptable when the few in power decide who should win, or lose, an election. The results may not be to our personal liking, but investigators must be perceived as trustworthy in their pursuit of the truth.

Agents who worked criminal crimes had it easy because it was more of a “just the facts” approach to an investigation. Laws helped to establish clear lines of acceptable behavior. My work was in counterintelligence which relied on building trust. I was assigned the colossal sales job of persuading foreign spies to work for the U.S. government. There’s no possible reason why a foreign spy would want to continue a conversation with me.

It was essential that I created strong relationships built on trust, even when they knew I was an FBI agent. Especially when they knew, because they looked for deception and traps.

As entrepreneurs, business owners, and sales people, you’re in the same boat. You need to persuade others that you’re trustworthy in an era of deceit and cynicism. Maybe what your potential customers hear about you isn’t correct, or even fair, but that doesn’t stop the rumors from flying around and your reputation can be at stake. 

Often the question is not whether people lie, it’s what are they lying about? Do they stretch their optimism and hope that business will turn around? Will they create a fabrication like Bernie Madoff? Does the CEO tell a half-truth or do they simply omit an important piece of information?

Here are 5 easy ways to persuade others that you are trustworthy:

1. Start With Self-Awareness

Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves—Gandhi

Remember that people deceive themselves as much as they deceive others. They may be unaware of how others perceive them. People can deceive themselves and believe any number of things—sometimes they exaggerate their own importance or abilities to impress others. Sometimes they’re too critical of their own efforts. At other times, they don’t give themselves enough credit for their accomplishments.

The incredible thing about self-deception is that not only are we telling a lie, but we’re lying to ourselves! We all have blind spots about our own performance.

How To Make It Work For You: Don’t sabotage yourself and your best efforts to be seen as trustworthy to others by a lack of self-awareness. Work to understand your emotions—what you feel and what triggered it—so you can choose whether your response is productive and effective. Mental toughness is the ability to manage your emotions, thoughts, and behavior in ways that set you up for success.

2. Keep Your Word

As simple as this sounds, it’s one of the most important steps in building a foundation of trust. Do what you say and say what you do. When you cancel an appointment or fail to follow through, it creates fractures in your trustworthiness.

It might not seem like a big deal to you, but repeated failures to keep your word add up over time. People will perceive you as less trustworthy so when you make a promise, keep it.

How To Make It Work For You: If you can’t keep a promise, explain why you can’t. You may need to make a new promise to make it up. Be sure to keep this new promise no matter what! This also means that you show up on time and respond quickly to emails and phone calls.

3. Learn to Communicate In A Clear Manner

I once had a supervisor who seemed to change his mind every week about the squad’s strategy on reporting contacts with foreign spies. Whether he actually did change his mind or not, his lack of ability to communicate his thoughts undermined our trust in him. His lack of ability to communicate in a clear and consistent manner caused many failed relationships with the agents on his squad.

How To Make It Work For You: Clear and constructive communication encourages honest conversations. It also means they’re willing to admit their mistakes and communicate them to those who both rely upon and trust them. It is an constructive reaction that shows genuine interest in the good of all. A good communicator will also ask for more details to show their interest and acknowledge the experiences or feelings of the other person. They will be consistent in their response and the message they send to others.

4. Commit To The Relationship

Authentic conversations are built when people are committed to grow and deepen the relationship, not just to maintain the status quo. If the relationship is the central consideration, mutual commitments are essential to avoid concerns about manipulation or control in the conversation.

How To Make It Work For You: Speak to the other person’s interests and priorities. Validate them and their choices. Don’t judge their behavior, actions, or choices. It means you will need to invest the time it takes to be a true friend who is concerned about their well-being.

5. Stop Being A Prick; It’s Not All About You

This should be obvious, but the ego is a wild beast that needs to be tamed on a regular basis. Your time with the other person really does need to be about the other person. Trustworthiness can be undermined by vanity and ego when the conversation no longer focuses on the person in front of you.

Research tells us that we are most happy when we have positive social interactions and relationships. Our brain rewards us when we are able to share our views, desires, and goals with others. The simplest way to persuade others that you are trustworthy is make it all about them. And mean it.

How To Make It Work For You: Don’t let your ego override your mouth and good intentions. Don’t talk about yourself. Do spend time with follow-up questions from your last meeting with them. When you make every single statement about the other person and not about yourself, it becomes very powerful. It builds trust because it conveys two simple messages: 1) they are important, and 2) you care about them. It shapes everything else from that point forward.

© 2018 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.”

6 Proven Reasons Why Innovative Leaders Are Successful

Monday, June 25th, 2018

I attended a private school until the 8th grade. The only students were my brother and myself because we lived on a remote cattle ranch in Wyoming. The nearest town was 90 minutes, one-way, on a dirt road.

There were no other kids to play with, so I played with trucks and dolls when I was young. As I got older, I spent time with animals. I talked to them and treated them as friends—indeed, the only ones I had!

When we role-play, we imagine ourselves in different situations. One week I would be a veterinarian and patch up all sorts of ills that befall animals on a ranch. Or a John Wayne character who packed a gun and brought justice to the wild west.

I always imagined myself to be someone whom I aspired to become like when I grew up. At that age, my hero was someone very real to me. My imagination gave me permission to walk in the shoes of my hero, if only for a few moments.

Research tells us that children who have a good imagination grow up to be more creative as adults. Imaginative and creative people also tend to be more innovative as well.

Innovation is the secret sauce that can accelerate a company’s profits and growth beyond its competitors. In a recent study, innovation was ranked a long-term challenge for driving business growth. It is a key talent needed at all levels of leadership, starting with the CEO.

Despite its importance, innovation is a difficult quality to cultivate in both leaders and organizations.

As a leader, what if you feel you’re not innovative? You may need to fake it until you make it, but it is possible to create a mindset that will allow you to develop your creativity. Oscar Hammerstein wrote that by whistling a happy tune, “when I fool the people I fear, I fool myself as well.”

Creating an innovative mindset takes work and may require some retraining, but anyone can innovate if they develop these core competencies:

1. Innovative Leaders Surround Themselves With Interesting People

Our environment plays a major part in developing our innovative characteristics. We can’t change the circumstances of our upbringing, but we do have a choice in the kinds of people with whom we associate and surround ourselves.

We tend to take on the same characteristics as the people we spend the most time with, so be picky! It’s fine to spend time with school chums and old acquaintances, but we need to challenge ourselves to develop new friends who will truly nourish our desire to be the person we want to be.

Likewise, spend time with colleagues who possess high levels of innovative traits.

TIP: Create a learning environment or community that generates new knowledge and perspectives. This type of networking will expose you to different perspectives from individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

2. Innovative Leaders Are Curious And Observant

Innovative leaders score high in curiosity. They desire to know more and take the initiative to learn new information. They keep their skills and knowledge current to give them a competitive edge.

Innovative leaders are mentally tough because they believe they will prevail in their circumstances, rather than hope their circumstances will change. If an obstacle pops up, they react with curiosity as they investigate the endless possibilities before them.

Innovative leaders see possibilities everywhere and constantly add new information as they learn more. They are curious about other people and come up with many of their own innovative ideas as they observe others.

TIP: Become an investigator who looks at an obstacle or roadblock from many perspectives. Curiosity and observation are two important traits in innovative people. Look for the possibilties in your situation, not the dead end.

3. Innovative Leaders Stamp Out Self-Limiting Beliefs

We all have self-limiting beliefs about ourselves that often lead to self-fulfilling prophecies about what we can and cannot do in life. Limitations are placed around ourselves when we think we can predict the outcome of a situation. We change our behavior so that the prediction comes true.

If you think you’re going to fail a job interview, that belief may lead to behavior that ensures you do, indeed, fail the job interview.

TIP: The self-fulfilling prophecy can work in the opposite direction as well. Stay positive and rein in self-limiting beliefs that can sabotage your performance.

4. Innovative Leaders Look For Ways To Shake Things Up

The same study cited above also revealed that innovative leaders scored 25% higher than non-innovative counterparts in managing risk.

Risk ignites innovation because it moves us out of our comfort zone. Risk does not partner with complacency because embracing risk is experimenting with the unknown. We try new experiences, take things apart, and test new ideas.

Innovation requires us to make something out of nothing. It requires the grit to keep working at something until you find a solution.

When you shake things up and embrace risk, one of two things will happen: either you will succeed at meeting your goal, or you will succeed in getting an education.

TIP: Seek out new experiences that will stimulate your thinking and avoid the mundane. Habits are the killer of innovation.

5. Innovative Leaders Seize Opportunities

Innovative leaders take risks, and when they do, they seize opportunities. Because they are also careful observers, they change direction when the advantage becomes apparent.

Innovative leaders can anticipate potential obstacles and are not surprised when they pop up. They are prepared for them and are able to pivot and move forward, without losing valuable momentum.

TIP: Rather than accept the learning opportunities when they occur, intentionally broaden activities in strategic areas. Be proactive in moving into those areas where you want to expand.

6. Innovative Leaders Fake It—To A Point

Aristotle once said, “Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a certain way.” That is the source of the fake it until you make it mantra.

While you can fake it until you make it when you start out, there is an important caveat: don’t expect it to take you all the way to the top.

Innovation is a mindset. As such, you work to create a mindset that seeks ways to move around obstacles. If you are a talented individual, you can fake your way through the learning process until it becomes a genuine skill you own.

TIP: If you do not have the talent, desire, or confidence to take your career to the next level, no amount of faking it will help. You risk being seen as an imposter.

© 2018 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.” 

6 Easy Steps To Make You More Resilient

Monday, June 18th, 2018

When I joined the FBI, the FBI’s transfer policy stipulated that I could be sent anywhere in the U.S.—the needs of the Bureau would always come before my own. After I told myself that I was resilient and could survive transfer-hell, I learned that every few years the FBI’s transfer policy changed!

My biggest fear was to be transferred to a dead-end outpost in the middle of nowhere. The constant threat of change and upheaval made me doubt whether I was resilient enough to always land on my feet.

Change frightens us because it is a voyage into the unknown. Ironically, since the unknown forces us to adapt to new circumstances, it is also the place where we can develop new talents and strengths. If we are resilient, we can embark on a journey that moves us beyond self-limiting beliefs, boredom, and lack of confidence.

Change is the great dream of every heart because it moves us closer to our full potential. To refuse the challenge that comes with change can be a great act of self-neglect.

If you have mental toughness, you will do anything to break the cycle of behavior that disempowers you. To push beyond your limits takes a resilient mind. It requires you to move into your discomfort zone and cross a threshold that awakens a variety of emotions such as confusion, fear, excitement, sadness—and yes, dreams.

There should always be a healthy tension between the life we have settled for and the potential that still calls us.

Here are 6 easy steps to make you more resilient:

1. Make A Plan

It’s very important that we find ways to feel relaxed with the new direction life is taking us, even if it is unwanted or unexpected. Plans are an easy way to make us feel comfortable and in control.

According to social psychologists, we feel the most comfortable and in control of life when our thoughts and feelings are consistent with our behavior. When we think or feel one way, and then behave in a manner that is inconsistent, it produces cognitive dissonance. This creates the anxiety we experience when we try to justify stressful behavior.

Plans create a roadmap that can help us work through the stress that is produced when we need to be resilient in the face of change. They are a safety net that gives our mind reason to believe that we are in control. Therefore, we’re more comfortable when we need to make a break from the past.

How To Make It Work For You: If you are going to change by moving into your discomfort zone, you need to have a strategy in mind of how you’re going to do it. Keep it simple, and review it often to make sure you’re still on course.

2. Ask Yourself Lots Of Questions

Our brain is uber alert for change of any kind in our environment. When our limbic brain detects an abnormality, our animal instinct takes over. As a result, our first reaction is to fight, flee, or freeze. None of these reactions produce the results you need to be resilient in the face of change.

Instead, rewire your brain. Psychologist Marilee Adams suggests that questions can virtually rewire our emotions, thoughts, and behavior. According to her research, the probing questions that we ask ourselves can open up our mind. We are then receptive to new information and connect it to what we already know. This allows our brain to assimilate new knowledge about our circumstances so we can develop a comfort zone that lessens stress.

How To Make It Work For You: Ask questions that probe the facts surrounding your new situation. Questions are piercing little darts that expose hidden anxiety. Once they elicit an honest answer from us, we are able to name the beast in the room—that is, the fear we are experiencing. It is, however, essential to honestly name what is going on before you can trigger change in emotion, thought, or behavior.

3. Take Small But Steady Steps Forward

When change is foisted upon us, we’re often left with an overwhelming feeling that at the end of the day we can only accept our fate. While that is true to some degree, a resilient mind will find ways to adapt and adjust in a way that will leave it in control.

Small wins are critical because they make the change real. They also create the opportunity to build momentum. Confidence is produced as we move past our self-limiting beliefs and become more resilient.

How To Make It Work For You: The way to adapt to new circumstances is to look for opportunities to improve your situation in small, continuous steps. Continuous improvement is key because it also implies steady movement forward. Small steps allow you to make changes, monitor the results, and then adjust as needed.

4. Get Rid Of Doubters

Whether you chose your new circumstances, or they were foisted upon you, doubters and haters are likely to rear their ugly head. There are people who spew negativity wherever they go, and if you’re smart you’ll turn on your heel and head in the opposite direction.

This is not so easy when the doubters are members of your own family. As they say, “Pick your friends well because you’re stuck with family.” It’s important to realize that most people are negative as a result of their own problems and issues.

Be very intentional about those with whom you share your plans and dreams. Think about how you might connect with people who are wiser and more experienced than yourself. If there are people who will not support you, don’t spend as much time with them, or limit how much you see them.

How To Make It Work For You: Identify two or three (or more) people you admire and respect with whom you can sit down with on a quarterly basis to review your progress. These are the same people you can turn to when times get tough as well.

5. Develop New, Better Habits

New circumstances may require new habits so we can remain diligent and resilient.

Psychologist Wendy Wood suggests that 40% of the time we don’t actually think about what we’re doing. This is because our mind is trained to fall back on habitual behaviors.

Habits are hard to break because they are found in deeper structures of the brain. This leaves much of our working memory available to deal with everyday surprises and situations. Habits don’t need as much of the brain’s energy, so changing them takes a lot of attention.

How To Make It Work For You: A change in your situation is the perfect time to establish new habits because the old ones are more easily disrupted. Immediately replace an old habit with a new one. Stay aware of a change until it becomes a new habit. Don’t push yourself too hard or too fast because this may only cause you to slip up.

6. Grit Up

Wimps are not resilient because they don’t know how to move forward when the going gets tough or uncomfortable. They roll over and play it safe. Grit is your ability to persevere over the long-run and thrive despite all kinds of unplanned events.

As leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners, grit is an essential skill because it is the one thing you will need to succeed. If you give up when the going gets tough, you’re done.

Talent does not trump determination. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Grit, persistence, and determination will keep you moving ahead when your circumstances and environment has changed.

How To Make It Work For You: Face your problems head on. It isn’t your problems that define you—it’s how you react and recover from them. Your problems are not going away unless you do something about them. Do not quit when you feel you can no longer deal with a crisis. Have the grit to stay in the game but be flexible with your idea of what is “right” as you approach your new situation.

© 2018 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.”

7 Ways To Build Trust With Others

Monday, May 21st, 2018

FBI agents spend a great deal of time learning how to build trust with others. For that reason an agent’s most useful investigative tool is the interview. This is where trust is built—nose to nose, knee to knee. We need information from the people we talk to, and they need to know they can trust us in return.

Trust is at the heart of every business because trust forms the basis of every relationship. Entrepreneurs, small business owners, and leaders need to work with people both inside and outside of their organization to create mutually beneficial relationships.

Trust is a choice. If we know how to build trust with others, it means they have confidence that  we will keep our word. They trust that we are exactly who we say we are, and that we won’t desert them when times get tough.

Trust is give and take. It means you’ve found a way to relate to other people in a way that is meaningful to them.

One of today’s most essential skills is to learn how to build trust with others. Here are 7 ways that I have found useful in highly volatile situations that were filled with uncertainty, and where trust was critical:

1. Follow Through With Actions

The reason you build trust with others is so that people know that you will follow through when you’re assigned a task. You earn a reputation as someone who doesn’t break your commitment.

If you do need to break a commitment, communicate it early and treat it as renegotiation. With consistent follow through with actions, you are seen as someone who is reliable and trustworthy.

How To Make It Work For You: It’s as simple as this—keep your word. Not only does this strategy communicate to others that you respect their time as much as your own, it signals that you expect the same consideration from them.

2. Develop Good Communication Skills

It’s important to never leave a conversation until all parties are clear on what is expected of them. This is crucial in any negotiation or settlement discussions. Clarify the agreement because if someone’s expectations are not met, trust is forfeited. This is most common when sensitive issues like money are involved in the conversation.

We learn how to build trust with others by give and take. Trust doesn’t happen when you avoid the difficult details and hope the other person understands.  Trust is built when you have the difficult conversation and you’re able to communicate why the conversation is important.

How To Make It Work For You: Very often the message we send to others is not the one we intended to send. If you’re not sure how you come across, ask a friend to listen to you and get their feedback.

Just as often, even if we do send the right message, the way in which the other person perceives it might convey a different meaning to them. Before you leave a conversation, loop back and say, “This is what I heard you say…is that accurate?”

3. Practice Patience

As the spokesperson for the FBI in Northern California, I experienced incredible pressure from reporters to meet deadlines. As a result, I became inflexible and short-tempered with the people around me. It became difficult to build trust with others because the message I sent was that my time was more important than theirs.

The rush to get things done tends to create an uncomfortable environment. It’s easy for people to feel left out or unimportant if they can’t make a direct contribution to the crisis at hand.

How To Make It Work For You: Pressure can be good, but too much of it can leave a person impatient and inflexible. It takes time to build trust with others so make them feel just as important as the crisis that lurks over your shoulder. You’ll always have a crisis to handle; you may not have another opportunity to gain that person’s trust in you.

4. Establish A Culture Of Purpose

Successful business owners understand that their company exists because it improves the lives of their customers. The only reason a customer or client pays for the company’s services is because it provides a clear benefit. 

Chris Edmonds talks about the importance of a healthy, purposeful culture in his book, The Culture Engine. Organizations that are successful don’t try to make their people happy at work. Instead, they create a culture where trust is produced because they share a clearly stated purpose.

The culture of purpose for FBI agents is Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity. Once any one of those tenants is abrogated or compromised, there is a breakdown of trust. Read current news to understand that this is what the FBI is experiencing at the present moment.

How To Make It Work For You: Create a purpose narrative that reinforces the reason your company or work group exists. It helps to build trust with others when you find colleagues or customers who were helped by someone in your department or company and then share these stories with others.

5. Mirror Other People

A good way to build trust with others is to mirror their mannerisms. Neuro-linguistic researchers have found links between our mind, language, and behavior. The three primary modes through which people react to the world around them are visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), and kinesthetic (feeling).

These sensory channels become important when we built trust with others because they help us relate to people in a way that is meaningful to them. Pay attention to the language that a person uses—chances are, they will follow one of the following three patterns in their speech.

  • Sounds like . . . a lot of information.
  • Looks like . . . a lot to learn.
  • Feels like . . . more than I can handle.

How To Make It Work For You: If someone expresses themselves using a feeling word, use a feeling word to respond. If someone is an auditory person, use sounds to bring home your point: “it sounds like a thousand people in the room.” For visual people, ask them what the issue “looks” like to them.

6. Notice Their Words

When people are passionate about something, they use words that are freighted with meaning. The first step is to notice the words they use that are full of energy. Here are some energy words another person may use in a conversation that point to their emotional state:

  • Disappointed
  • Baffled
  • Cautious
  • Confused
  • Grateful
  • Hesitant
  • Interested
  • Relaxed
  • Surprised
  • Uncertain
  • Nervous
  • The list goes on…

How To Make It Work For You: After you have noticed the way a person uses an energy word, repeat it, and then pause. When you repeat the word, and then pause, it alerts them to the fact that you 1) notice their concern, 2) have validated it, and 3) given them an opportunity to further elaborate.

7. Admit You Don’t Have All The Answers

It takes genuine confidence in yourself to admit you don’t know something, but this simple act of trust on your part speaks volumes to the people who hear it. Your team will understand that you are an honest and open person.

When you show your vulnerabilities, it helps to build trust with others because they will see you as someone like them, someone who doesn’t have all the answers.

How To Make It Work For You: Trust is reciprocal, so the more you trust others, they more likely they will trust you. Trusting others also requires you to take a risk because you cannot always predict their response.

© 2018 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 Secrets Of A Strong Mind

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Movies and television depict heroes who have a strong mind. We admire people who push the limits. Heroes and tough guys let us walk in their shoes, if only for a couple of hours. We feel what it’s like to have the mental toughness to break out of a seemingly boring existence, and enter into a much bigger world—one that is full of possibility.

The reality is this: you and I must also be strong-minded if we are to overcome the obstacles we meet every day. We know that it takes more than talent or skill to become a top performer. Research studies indicate that intelligence accounts for 30% of our achievement.

So what does make a good leader, athlete, or parent? The answer is a strong mind that pushes through adversity. It is an inner quality that enables people to work hard and stick to their goals.

The good news is that a strong mind is not something you were born with. It is something that can be developed.

What secret characteristics do heroes with a strong mind possess? They embody these elements:

  • Confidence
  • Persistence
  • Dedication
  • Control

Ok—so maybe the characteristics of a hero are not-so-secret after all. But how can you and I harness their power? How can we create the strong mind that is the trademark of those who live large in a world full of possibilities?

Here are the secrets I learned from my own life:

1. Confidence

When I took the physical fitness (FIT) test at the FBI New Agents Academy, I was the bottom 1% that made the top 99% feel better about themselves. I failed miserably, so my challenge became twofold. First, I needed to maintain confidence in myself. Second, I needed to train so I could pass the rigid FIT test. I worked with a coach at the Academy, who taught me the secret to building confidence.

“When you improve a little each day, eventually bigger things will come. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t worry about short, quick improvements. Seek out the small improvements, one day at a time. And when it happens—it lasts.”

Helping new agents boost their confidence is the primary goal of the Academy—before they send agents out with a gun and badge. There were days when my heart raced and my palms sweat just thinking about the new challenges that faced me. But I learned that success would not make me confident—rather, confidence in myself and my abilities would make me successful.

The result? I passed the FIT test and worked as an FBI agent for twenty-four years.

TIP: Confidence is a belief in yourself and your ability to meet your goals. Push out of your comfort zone and expose yourself to different situations. Learn how to push through the uncomfortable. Once you have confidence in yourself, you’ll be amazed what you can accomplish.

2. Persistence

When I interviewed with the FBI, they liked my grit and scrappiness. A hillbilly from a cattle ranch in Wyoming who had clawed her way through college. I sat in front of a panel of polished FBI agents and interviewed for a job as a special agent. If I wanted the job, I’d need to learn how to Grit Up!

I grew up as an unsophisticated ranch girl, and believe me, it takes a while to put a shine on a sneaker. Each curveball thrown my way was met with determination and persistence. Grit was needed to make sacrifices and keep my eye on the larger goal.

Every day at the FBI Academy involved some kind of physical activity. As a trainee, I put in extra training for the FIT test. On top of that, as a class, we boxed each other, engaged in arrest scenarios, and ran around the basketball court holding 5 lb medicine balls. I was tired, depressed, and under pressure. Yet I knew that if I gave up, I would regret it the rest of my life.

So I straightened my back and dug deeper. A strong mind is not built on something slapped together on a shallow foundation. It needs solid rock.

Like a skyscraper, the higher you want to go, the deeper you must go.

TIP: Persistence is the tendency is to see life’s obstacles as challenges to be met, rather than as threats. Don’t whine, point fingers, or blame others for your predicament. You can be the hero of your own life and choose your destiny.

3. Dedication

On my first day at the FBI Academy, I didn’t feel like a superhero. In fact it wasn’t until after four grueling months of being placed in dangerous and awkward situations that I felt I had what it takes to do the job.

In the deepest part of me I knew that I would make the FBI my career. It was not a stepping-stone to something better that might come along. I was a disciple of my own deep values and beliefs. I had the will to subjugate my feelings to those values.

In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey writes, “If you are an effective manager of your self, your discipline comes from within.”

TIP: Strong-minded people have a dedication that comes from a purpose in alignment with their deepest values.

4. Control

Push-ups were the most difficult aspect of the physical fitness test for me. After several of them failed to be counted, I began to “psyche myself out,” worrying whether I could do it all!

A strong mind shuts out feelings of fear and inadequacy. Instead, it focuses on how to reach the goal. Control your own emotions, thoughts, and behavior, rather than trying to control other people.

The best way to control your situation is to invest energy into it so you understand all aspects. This allows you to pinpoint the soft underbelly of the challenge. Throw out preconceived ideas of what you can, and cannot do. If you put your shoulder to it, you will find that grit trumps talent every time!

Life-long training is a fact of life for FBI agents. It starts the day we arrive at the FBI Academy and ends the day we sign our retirement papers.

This constant training creates the sort of mentality that prepares for the worst and practices ahead of time to overcome it. We’ve either gathered the evidence, slapped on the handcuffs, or run the drills so we know what to do in case the sh*t hits the fan.

TIP: Control is having a certainty that you are able to shape your destiny and not passively accepting events as fate.

© 2018 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 Ways To Erase Painful Memories From Your Mind

Monday, May 7th, 2018

Like every kid, I have some painful memories from childhood. We never bought milk at the grocery store; instead, we had Spot, a mangy-looking Holstein who often grazed on weeds rather than grass. 

She kicked, and twitched her filthy tail, so Dad had to hobble her every night when he milked her. No one liked Spot; she smelled bad and her milk was tainted with the taste of weeds. I complained every time I was forced to drink a glass of milk. Chunks of coagulated cream floated on the top, and often there were flecks of dirt—or something worse—resting at the bottom.

“You need milk to grow tall and strong,” my Mother would assure me. I held my nose and drank the weedy stuff, leaving as much of the dark flecks at the bottom as I could.

Much as our body is built on the foods we eat and drink, our mind is built on our memories and experiences. As we all know, the residue of our experiences can be thrown into two piles: those that are beneficial and those that can cause harm.

There are many painful memories that we replay in our mind: conversations with our boss, disagreements with colleagues, arguments with partners and spouses. Many of us were called names or bullied as kids in school. Often those hurtful comments rear their ugly head when we meet new people.

We beat ourselves up for things said, and left unsaid; when we play that same scene over and over, it only increases our fear that we’ve said or done the wrong thing.

Mental toughness is the ability to control thoughts, emotions, and behavior in ways that will set you up for success. If you are mentally tough, you can find ways to erase painful memories from your mind. Here are 4 ways:

1. Interrupt Your Tendency to Brood On Negative Memories

Studies have shown that even when positive experiences outnumber our negative ones, the pile of negative and painful memories will always grow faster. Our mind is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones! The solution is not to suppress negative or painful memories, but rather to encourage more positive ones.

Years of survival among saber-toothed tigers have created a human brain that is designed to change through negative experiences, not positive ones. Natural selection shaped our minds to respond to situations that contain threats to life. The cost of failure to respond to a life threatening situation could be death, whereas the cost of failure to respond to a life opportunity does not carry the same dire consequences. 

This explains why the negative experiences and painful memories from our past stay in our mind for so long.

While self-reflection is helpful, brooding is harmful. When we dwell on our problems, it magnifies our misfortune. In the end, we host our own pity party which increases our distress!

How To Make It Work For You: Mindfulness is the key to living in the “here and now.” When you’re mindful, you are present in the moment. Mindfulness takes practice, but over time, it can greatly decrease our tendency to brood over negative memories.

2. Choose To Forget

 

Have you ever wondered why students who cram to prepare for an exam can cheerfully expunge their brain of all that hard-won learning once it’s no longer needed? Within days, they can barely remember the basics let alone the details. It’s as if they’ve forgotten on purpose.

A recent study shows that, under the right conditions, we can forget what we choose to forget. It’s possible to forget painful memories if we discard the mental context within which the memories were first learned.

The brain that wants to remember needs to keep active the mental context that was present  during the learning experience. For example, our brain’s memory is enhanced when it imagines the sequence of events and their locations. When we think about memorable parties we’ve attended, our mind wanders through the rooms and contexts of conversations. Our brain is able to recall what we experienced first-hand in each location.

The same study provided evidence that we forget things when we discard the mental context and images that go with the painful memories.

How To Make It Work For You: Vision is the most dispassionate, the least emotional, of all our senses. Reduce your painful memory to only the visual image rather than the actual first-hand experience. This will help dislodge the context of the memory so your recollection of it becomes thinner and less potent over time.

3. Replace Painful Memories With Positive Ones

Like pulling weeds, the pesky things won’t go away unless they’re pulled out by the roots. Often, it takes mental toughness to be inquisitive enough to get to the root of our memories. Look at your life as an investigator would look at it.

Delicately probe the deep roots of a recurring negative memory. The tips are often found in childhood experiences. Deliberately interrupt that negative memory with a positive one in order to pull it out at its core. When you do, you’re building new, positive neural connections.

It takes active effort to pull painful memories from our mind and replace them with positive ones.

How To Make It Work For You: Pair a bad memory with a good one. Each time you think about a painful memory, shift your thoughts to the good one.

  • When you remember a childhood feeling of sadness, recall being loved by other people in your life.
  • Give those positive feelings of love and appreciation 20-30 seconds to really sink in.
  • Add the power of language by saying: “I got through that, I’m still here, and people love me.”

4. Get Control Of The Painful Memories

The most common mistake most people make when they try to erase painful memories is to control, or suppress, their negative thoughts and feelings. This does nothing but create a vicious loop of more negative feelings and emotions. The more you feed this loop, your painful memories will only become more intense and persistent over time.

You cannot control or stop the way you feel, but you can learn to change the way you react to negative emotions. If you choose to remain a victim, you have no way to empower yourself. You’ve given your power away to those who hurt you. It is not your fault you were the victim of an unpleasant situation, but it is your fault if you choose to remain a victim long after the incident.

How To Make It Work For You: First, be aware that painful memories are in the past and are not relevant to you now. Second, since you cannot control or repress them, learn to observe them instead. Go ahead and feel painful memories, but stay calm around them. The secret is to remain relaxed and change your response.

© 2018 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 Science-Based Ways To Develop A Strong Mind

Monday, April 30th, 2018

My grandmother knew how to develop a strong mind with lots of spunk and grit. She was a crack shot with a shotgun. She never allowed me to say “I can’t” when she told me to do my chores. Come summer, she was the kind of person who would rather burn her front yard than mow it.

My grandmother never had more than an 8th grade education, but she knew something that researchers at world-class universities are just now understanding.

And that is, every time we say the words “I can’t” we are creating a feedback loop in our brain that impacts the way we’re going to behave in the future. We’re reminding ourself of our limitations. What we’re really saying, “I don’t have the confidence to do this.”

Have you ever said to yourself:

  • Public speaking is not my thing, so don’t blame me if it goes badly.
  • I don’t like to perform under pressure so don’t blame me if I screw up.
  • This project is too much, so don’t blame me if it’s not a success.

There are many different regions of the brain, and an MRI scan can show what parts of the brain light up when we think. If you make a fist, your hand would represent the cerebral cortex—the thinking part of the brain. This is the part of the brain that finds new ways to think and generate solutions; it is more logical in it’s approach.

But the moment something creates fear or discomfort, we move into another part of the brain. The thumb underneath your fist would represent the limbic system—the reactive or emotional part of the brain.

The limbic system may be small in size, but it’s powerful because it controls our survival instinct. When we’re confronted with an obstacle that threatens us, we move from the cerebral to the reactive limbic system and it creates the “fight” or “flight” reactions that have kept humans alive for centuries. I describe the limbic system as our feeling brain because it’s the home of our small but powerful gut instinct. It helps us deal with emergencies and threats to our life.

The feeling brain is 100% self-protective and it’s not a good place to be when we need to make decisions as we face adversity. We don’t need to flee from every challenge just because it scares us. The feeling brain can’t discern between anxiety about a threat to our safety, and anxiety we experience when we speak in front of a group of people.

All it knows is that if we’re in discomfort and feel anxious. Instinctively, it tells us to flee or withdraw, so we obey and say, “I can’t.” To develop a strong mind, we have to switch gears to consciously move out of the reactive limbic system and into the thinking cerebral brain. When we face adversity and obstacles, it’s vital for the two parts of our brain to work together so the best decisions can be made.

Here are 4 science-based steps to develop a strong mind:

1. Prioritize Information

You create a strong mind when you prioritize information because it forces the brain to interact with information rather than simply react to it. One excellent way to force the limbic system to interact with the cerebral brain is to create visuals with whiteboards and then list your projects. Visuals help the two parts of the brain sort out the day’s activities together. Otherwise, we risk the chance of them fighting against one another for attention and energy.

After you’ve prioritized, you develop a strong mind when you strip away all the fuss and focus only on the most important projects. Bill Gates said something he learned from Buffett was to keep things simple. “His ability to boil things down, to just work on the things that really count, to think through the basics — it’s so amazing that he can do that. It’s a special form of genius.”

Tip: If possible, assign a theme to each day. When you focus on one specific type of work each day of the week, it helps you stay accountable and monitor progress. It also helps you stay focused on work.

2. Use Your Brain To Manage Stress

As an FBI agent, I had to develop a strong mind because I was frequently confronted with stressful situations.

Research has shown that law enforcement personnel develop a strong mind when they learn how to manage their fear and anxiety. It’s not that they don’t feel discomfort; it’s that they have been trained to manage that discomfort so they are hardier and more resilient.

Tip: Here are two ways to manage stress:

Be grateful. Gratitude emanates from the limbic system, and because of this, we can use gratitude to influence other emotions such as anxiety and fear.

Write down what you feel. When we write down, and then think about those emotions, we can boost our ability to counter the negative emotions we experience at the time. If we keep a journal, it moves us from the limbic system into the cerebral. It’s important not only to think about why we are grateful, but also to focus on the feelings attached to our gratitude.

3. Label All Emotions, Not Just the Good Ones

Now that you’ve written down and identified your emotions, the next step to develop a strong mind is to label them. All of them, not just the nice ones. Many people only want to admit emotions that are warm and fuzzy or ones that make them look good. We’ve all had to learn how to turn shit into sugar so be honest with yourself.

When we label our emotions, it does not increase them. In fact, when you label your fear or anxiety, it lessens your discomfort. It’s very important, however, to keep the label to one or two words because if you open up dialogue about it, you will only stir up the limbic system.

Tip: When you reflect on your feelings and label them, you use your thinking part of the brain to control your emotions instead of allowing them to control you. You move out of the fight/flight mode so you can think about the issue at hand.

4. Train Your Brain To Remain Positive

We develop a strong mind when we change our interpretation of a situation. Since we have an innate bias toward negativity, we process bad news faster than good news. This is because our feeling brain is always survival-driven. This also explains why we’re driven to avoid losses far more than we’re driven to pursue gains. Our emotional responses flow from our appraisals of the world.

My grandmother knew that it was not lack of fear that creates a successful response; it’s how we deal with fear and anxiety. For FBI agents, leaders, or grandmothers everywhere, let your discomfort be a reminder that you need to seek out the positive in your situation. Sometimes you need to look really hard, but it’s always there.

Tip: Social psychologist Barbara Frederickson recommends that when you’re under pressure, you can develop a strong mind if you pause and reflect on five things in life that are truly important to you. Pause after each one to ponder them for several seconds. Ground yourself in the simple reality that no amount of hassle or worry can rob us of what matters most.

© 2018 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.”

Why Mental Toughness Gives You A Competitive Advantage

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

The biggest challenge I had in graduating from the FBI Academy was meeting the physical fitness standards. I was a slow runner and found pushups very difficult. I did not have a competitive advantage. As a result, I failed the interim FIT test and was almost washed out of the Academy.

Instructors and coaches at the FBI Academy expressed concern that I was not athletic enough to become an agent. My first response was, “How is running 2 miles in 10 minutes going to help me be a better investigator?”

This was my reasoning was this: Agents don’t use their physical muscles to puzzle their way through the facts of an investigation. Instead, they use their mental skills. Only later was I able to recognize that brawn would not make me a better agent. My athletic training, however, had created a set of mental skills to give me a competitive advantage that I would utilize throughout my 24 year FBI career.

Research and common sense tell us that top athletes have a competitive advantage because of their physical talents and dedication to training. However, they also succeed because of their ability to deal with the psychological pressures of their sport. Mental toughness is extremely important for any athlete aiming to be the best.

The real question of coaching in sports is this: Are you mentally tough enough to compete?

There was a recent study of athletes who successfully completed sport injury rehabilitation. The study determined that the top 3 mental skills reported were Goal Setting, Positive Thinking, and Imagery.

I was not surprised by this list because these mental toughness tools can produce the right attitude to move everyone toward success. The same mindset is needed by leaders, entrepreneurs, and business owners who need to stay ahead of their competition. Here is a closer look at why mental toughness gives you a competitive advantage:

1. Goal Setting

When you set a goal, you identify something you want, and also something you are willing to pursue in order to achieve.

Setting a specific goal makes you more likely to achieve it. This becomes important when you want a competitive advantage so you can take your sport to the next level, make a change in your career, or overcome an obstacle on your journey toward that goal.

TIP #1 SET GOALS FOR THE RIGHT REASON

Stop fantasizing about winning the lottery or making $10 million. Instead, set goals that align themselves to what really matters to your happiness and future well being. This is what will give you the competitive advantage you need in life.

TIP #2 FOCUS ON A DIRECTION

Set your training in a direction so that the pursuit of it will produce the life you want. If the journey is the right one, don’t worry if goals change or evolve with time.

TIP #3 CHANGE THE GOAL IF NEEDED

You will have a competitive advantage when you use mental skills to focus on the right thing—the direction you want your life to move. Don’t make the mistake of getting married to your goal. Often, goals need to change as our circumstances change. Goals are the steps to reach your vision, what really matters to you. 

2. Positive Thinking

There is a big difference between being an optimist and being a positive thinker. Positive thinkers are not necessarily happy or optimistic. Instead, positive thinkers are blunt realists who look misery right in the eye. They confront the most brutal facts of their day without expecting things to change. They adapt to their circumstances without ever losing hope.

Positive thinking is a mental skill that will give you a competitive advantage and help get you through any setback that comes your way.

TIP #1 FIND 5 POSITIVE THOUGHTS

The brain is naturally wired to pay more attention to negative rather than positive information because negative alerts us to emergencies and threats to our life.

When confronted with something that feels overwhelming, you will need to find 5 positive thoughts to counter each one negative thought that comes to mind. Sometimes it’s hard to find something positive in your situation and you have to look really hard.

TIP # 2 REFLECT ON EACH POSITIVE THOUGHT FOR 20 SECONDS

Take the time to really think about each positive thought. Let it soak in, don’t gloss over it. Negative thoughts are like velcro; they stickPositive thoughts are like teflon; they slide away easily.

TIP #3 STOP USING THE WORD “CAN’T”

This is the only 4 letter word I never heard in the FBI. Every time you say “I CAN’T” you create a negative feedback loop in your brain that keeps getting stronger and stronger. Synaptic connections thicken the brain tissues over time, wiring in that negativity. Negative thinking will never give you a competitive advantage.

3) Imagery

The benefits of using imagery and visualization is an incredible tool to develop mental toughness. This mental skill is based on solid science. By visualizing your successful performance repeatedly, your brain stores that information as a success.

TIP #1 VISUALIZE YOUR SUCCESS

When we give our brain a detailed portrait of our end goal, our brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is a powerful mental toughness tool that can give us a competitive advantage. This is the chemical that becomes active when we encounter situations that are linked to rewards from the past.

Dopamine enables us to feel good about our experiences and gives us confidence to move toward those rewards. To boost this brain response:

  • Imagine how events will unfold.
  • See yourself winning or achieving your goal.
  • Hear yourself being positive about the challenge before you.
  • Form a clear mental picture and do it several times a day.
  • Create a positive frame of mind.
  • Find images that represent your goal and post them where you’ll see them regularly.

Visualizing is not fantasy or wishful thinking. Fantasies can actually lessen your chance for success. Your brain can tell the difference, and looks at fantasies as a threat! If people fantasize about their future performance, they are less prepared and more stressed when things don’t workout. 

TIP#2 MOVE AHEAD WITH FEARLESSNESS

Use imagery and visualize how you will succeed in various situations you might encounter in the future. For example,

  • Visualize how you will react and respond when criticized by a competitor.
  • Prepare for the hard questions from your supervisor.
  • Rehearse your response to conversations that might come up.

This is enough to get that important shot of dopamine. It can give you a competitive advantage so you can move beyond your self-limiting beliefs about yourself and current circumstances.

© 2018 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.” 

6 Ways To Get Through Adversity

Monday, April 16th, 2018

Anything worthwhile will require us to learn how to get through adversity. All of us will experience roadblocks in our careers, relationships, finances, and health at some point in our life.

If we want to get through adversity, we need to develop a mindset of mental toughness so we can keep on the move. Successful people understand that mindset beats strategy every time.

I learned at an early age that the way I thought about the problems before me would be way I would overcome them. When my brother and I were kids, Dad pointed out a still used to brew whiskey on our Wyoming ranch. We were on horseback and rode past a few barrel rings and a wall of rocks. Tucked into a steep draw, it was surrounded by aspen trees and a little cow trail that led to the bottom of the canyon near our house.

At that time, my brother and I collected antique glassware as a hobby. We planned to go back to the whiskey still and look around for old bottles at a later time. It should be easy enough to find, we thought. So after school we told our parents we were going out to play and would be back in time for supper. We walked up the canyon, and when we saw a draw that looked familiar, we started up.

Our ranch was located in the scatterings of the Snowy Mountain Range at an altitude of 7,000 feet. Summers are short in that country. The green aspen trees that looked lush and cozy when we rode past them a few months before, were now barren and cold.

Night fell much earlier in the winter months and dusk had begun to set in. We could not find the whiskey still but continued on until we reached the top of the draw. When we saw Laramie Peak in a distance, we knew we had climbed over 2,000 feet out of the canyon bottom.

We had climbed up the wrong draw, night was coming, and we had no flashlights. The rattlesnakes had hibernated for the winter, but conditions were still adverse. It was dark, the terrain was steep and rocky. The temperature had begun to drop at an alarming rate.

At the ages of ten and eleven, my younger brother and I learned young to how to get through adversity.

Here are 6 ways that will help you get through adversity as well:

1. Keep Your Eye On The Target

This was not the first time my brother and I had to embrace the suck. Winters are harsh on a Wyoming cattle ranch. We leaned into misery and pushed through our discomfort zones on a daily basis. Water in the cattle tanks froze over and we swung axes to break through three-inches of ice. Bales of hay needed to be loaded onto trucks and fed to cattle. The worse the weather, the more our livestock depended upon us for food and water.

Summers were even worse because we fixed fences, greased bailers, trailed cattle, and put up hay instead of playing with the neighborhood kids. Ooops, did I mention there were no neighborhood kids because our ranch was so isolated?

The lessons I learned to get down the mountain stayed with me the rest of my life. I spent four months at the FBI Academy in new agent’s training. We trained hard, day in and day out, no matter the weather conditions—in snow, wind, rain, or heat. Whenever I thought I couldn’t push myself any further, I remembered that cold night climbing back down a mountain when I was eleven years old. I knew I had what it took to get through adversity because I’d done it before.

How To Make It Work For You:  As entrepreneurs and business leaders, you also need ways to keep your team focused and fired up. High-performance companies provide a vision for a brighter future. This vision keeps employees focused and excited about the future. It prepares them to get through adversity because they can see beyond the current roadblock.

2. Grit Up

My brother and I were not sure how to get back home before we found ourselves in complete darkness and freezing temperatures. We decided that if we stayed with the cow trail it would ultimately lead us to our destination. But we’d lost the trail! We hopped over rocks and fallen trees in an attempt to find it.

We developed a strategy: as long we were headed downhill, we were headed in the right direction. The draw had many smaller ones that meandered over the sides of the canyon and we were tempted at times, but time was important and we knew the quickest way down was the way we came up. We persisted and found the cow path again.

As an FBI agent, there were many times when I needed to grit up and remain persistent if I hoped to solve a case. FBI investigations do not come with a set of instructions on how to solve them. It can take many attempts, many failures, many iterations, before the answer is found.

How To Make It Work For You: To get through adversity, attack the problem from a different angle if your first, or tenth, approach doesn’t work. Learn to pivot when needed. Where there is a will, there is a way.

3. Keep A Lid On Emotions

While neither my brother or I panicked, we were scared—but we never let negativity set in. We acknowledged our fears but remained confident in our ability to get home safely.

I have drawn my weapon while making an arrest. I was scared and afraid of what I would need to do if the person resisted.

It’s always important to acknowledge emotions, but to get through adversity you need to remind yourself that you have the mental toughness to manage the negative ones. You may not be able to change the conditions but you can change the way you deal with them. It’s possible to have self-control in an out-of-control environment.

How To Make It Work For You: You can control your team’s emotions when you get their buy-in. As a leader, help everyone connect with the vision you have. This becomes even more important when things look tough.

4. Accept Responsibility

My brother and I had no one to blame but ourselves. This was no game we were playing and we had to have the strength to look at our adversity realistically and take responsibility for getting ourselves back home. Our parents had no idea we had headed out to find the whiskey still because we hadn’t told them.

As an FBI agent, I found that self-examination would be one of the most important ways I could become a more effective leader and achieve my goals. When I confronted obstacles and adversity, I was not afraid to question my thinking. Often, this self-examination uncovered biases or assumptions I had made that either contributed to the obstacle or stood in my way of overcoming it.

How To Make It Work For You: Self-awareness leads to emotional intelligence—a better understanding of yourself and how you interact with others. A self-examination includes a regular review of values, desires, and fears. This honest assessment can lead to a reinvention of goals and beliefs.

5. Pace Yourself

My brother and I both knew that if we stopped, we’d freeze to death before morning. On the other hand, if we depleted our resources, we’d be unable to continue.

I learned it was important to pace myself while running obstacle courses at the FBI Academy. I was not a strong runner, and while I enthusiastically charged out the gate, I knew I’d need to pace myself to last the entire obstacle course.

The same logic applied to my investigations: if I depleted my resources, ran myself to exhaustion, and then needed to respond to a fast-moving break in the case, I was in serious trouble. This can happen in any area of our life; we move so fast that we fail to recognize what goes on around us. Whether we call it alertness or paranoia, it’s always prudent to look to the horizon for both threats and opportunities.

How To Make It Work For You: We can work hard, but we don’t always work smart. To be high-performers, we need to pace ourselves because it allows us the time to prioritize our values and what is important to us. To learn more, read the chapter called The 20 mile March in “Great by Choice” by Jim Collins.

6. Create Community

My brother and I were a team and we worked together to get back down the hill. We provided moral support for one another. We jumped across waterfalls and mucked through inches of mud to follow the meandering cow path.

The personal leadership skill of camaraderie is one of the first lessons taught at the FBI Academy. For the first three weeks, new agents are not allowed to leave the Marine Corp base. Instead, we were expected to develop a supportive community that would be needed during our four months of training.

The concept of total team accountability as part of the culture is a core tenant of SEAL training and life in the “Teams.” From week one they are taught to hold themselves and their classmates to the highest standard. Peer reviews play a pivotal role in a student’s success. And they carry that concept over into the Teams as part of their peer-to-peer learning culture. Failure to execute is not an option.

The ability to relate to others was one of the most effective skills I developed in my career as a counterintelligence agent. Everyone has the need to be heard, and the need for information that can be put into action. The listener is a essential role because even very successful leaders need people who are allied to their cause.

My brother and I made is safely home that night to parents who were very worried.

How To Make It Work For You: If you learn how to get through adversity, it will help you turn underachievement into superior achievement. As long as you can stay alive, you are still in the game.

© 2018 LaRae Quy. 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.”