5 Unconventional Ways You Can Lead From The Heart

March 30th, 2014 by LaRae Quy

I spent Saturday morning at my local gym working out with a trainer. As I repeated repetitions with free weights, my trainer kept yelling, “Lead from the heart.” I write and speak about mental toughness, but his exhortation to lead from the heart in my workout struck a new cord. 

Mental toughness begins with heart, and my friend, Lolly Daskal, is an expert on how to lead from the heart. I’ve learned a lot from her and how important it is to listen to the wisdom of our inner calling.

How important is heart to mental toughness? Mental toughness is finding a way to continue moving toward our goals, even in tough times—but if our heart is not the driving force behind those goals, failure will be enough to persuade us to give up and try something else. 

Glimpses into our heart’s desire cannot be plucked from the air. We must integrate both feeling and thinking because when we lead from the heart, we feel an expansion of self and meaning in life. The experience lingers in our consciousness and gives a sense of purpose, integration with others, and empathy.

Let’s look at 5 nonconventional ways you can not lead from the heart: 

1. Relive the BEST Parts of Your Childhood

Go back and remember the fun things you liked to do as a child and young adult. They gave you autonomy, purpose, and a sense of fulfillment. 

Our brain keeps growing until the age of twenty-five, by which time we develop a more mature sense of long-term planning and critical thinking. As adults we become afraid of the unknown and cease to utilize play and creativity as a way of exploring our heart’s desire.

To lead from the heart, it is not enough to love what we do; we must also find meaning and purpose in it.

If your path has no heart, you are on the wrong path.


Rekindle the passions of your heart from your early years. This does not mean you have to quit your job, but it does require that you take a critical look at:

  1. what you are doing, and
  2. which aspects of your job speak to your heart (so you can pursue them)

2. Learn How to Skip Rope — Again

As adults, we stop being playful and creative because we become more sensitive to rejection, failure, and other pinpricks to our ego.

Creativity is developing original ideas that have value. It is finding connection between things that are not connected. Creativity requires that we do two things: 1) embrace risk, and 2) find and identify new patterns. The irony is that these two requirements are what makes play so much fun!

When you are concentrating on something that matters to you, then you are working from the heart.

There are no rule books and instead of avoiding the unknown, the risk you are facing only tightens your focus. 


Notice those times when time does not matter because you are so absorbed in what you do, and risk is not a deterrent. 

3. Follow Your Calling by Looking at Your Brain

Too often, we associate our brain with thinking only, but our brain is also where we experience emotions and process feelings.

Research has shown that when we are truly engaged in what we are doing, and experience feelings of fulfillment, large patches of our prefrontal cortex are deactivated. These regions of our brain silence our inner critic and leave us less inhibited and much more open to unique experiences.

When we follow our heart’s calling, we’re calm, confident, and content.


When we are leading with our heart and feel a reward from our activity, our brain releases dopamine which stimulates excitement, curiosity, and motivation.

4. Put Your Heart Into It

We need to push ourselves. Peak performance shows up when we’re using our skills.  This means challenge. When we push ourselves in the right direction (toward our calling), we are intrinsically motivated to perform. 


If you are following your heart, you will experience the same “runner’s high” as athletes do after they finish their races. Your brain chemicals will be surging, alerting you to what fulfillment and accomplishment with meaning feels like.

5. Take a Hard Look at The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

You either embrace the challenges of life or you shrink from them. Mentally tough people acknowledge that life is full of both good and bad, positive and negative, but they cultivate a growth mindset that uses strategies to keep moving forward. 

One of the most essential strategies is honest self-evaluation. If you have a growth mindset, you accurately evaluate your capabilities in order to learn more efficiently. If you have a fixed mindset, it makes it harder to adapt and remain flexible to life’s changing environment.


Self-knowledge accumulates over time. You cannot be mentally tough by blaming your weaknesses and failures on others.

Mental toughness is combining awareness with action. There is a decision at every step, and the decision to listen to the calling of our heart is the surest path to a strong mind.

How do you lead from the heart?

© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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

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10 Responses to “5 Unconventional Ways You Can Lead From The Heart”

  1. Simple, warm and surprisingly moving suggestions. Thank you.

  2. Karin Hurt says:

    Beautiful post. Nice to see the podcast edition as well. Now you Jon should try double dutch and make a video 😉

    I so agree that lightening up brings out the heart. I’ve been so crazy busy recently, and haven’t been going to yoga for a while. I went yesterday morning and when I came back the creativity just flowed. Sometimes backing off is the most important part of getting to the root of what you should do next.

  3. When our hearts are involved in our activities we do forget about time. I love when I am in one of my workshops and everyone is laughing and learning. The time flies and we can’t believe when the session is over.

    I also love your idea of looking back at our childhood for insights into what we cherished as children. I loved playing my guitar and writing dopey songs but when I can get back to that headset and write from my heart, I feel so energized and fulfilled.

    Thanks LaRae!

  4. Learn to skip rope again! A great set of suggestions LaRae. Thank you.

    • LaRae Quy says:

      It’s always good to hear from you, Joy!

      I love the idea of how play stimulates our creativity, and how creativity stimulates innovation!

      The wisdom of a child…

  5. Alli Polin says:

    Put your heart in it! The difference between going through the motions and going all-in is night and day! Not only does it transform what you can accomplish but also transforms your relationships. Everyone you encounter can feel the difference. Play, put your heart in it… all things that bring energy and JOY to work and transforms it from hard to “meant to be.”

    Thanks, LaRae!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Alli, you bring up an important point – joy.

      The buzz word these days is happiness, but I truly believe happiness are those precious little moments that come and go…joy, on the other hand, is a deeper emotion that has powerful connections. Joy is something that permeates our attitude throughout the day, regardless of whether we’re “happy” or not.

      Joy brings contentment…a great place for all of us!

  6. Jon Mertz says:


    Great suggestions on how to lead with our heart. At times, we may be reluctant to do it but we will be better off for it, as well as all those team members around us will be! Skipping rope was one of those things I was not ready to do in the gym. When I saw your point, I had to laugh because I was almost embarrassed to even try… It had been over 30 years since I jump-roped. Anyway, it actually went a lot better than I had thought. Getting over those humps, having fun, and gaining a healthy momentum…. all about leading with heart!

    Thanks! Jon

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Haha…Jon, good for you! I just saw a photo of Michelle Obama skipping rope in Xian, China…

      What is it about doing fun, playful things that brings a smile to our face? We need to take that attitude to work with us….

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