7 Reasons You Will Never Become A Mentally Strong Leader

July 27th, 2014 by LaRae Quy

A reporter once asked me whether the FBI provides textbooks for agents to study so they can become mentally strong. The answer is no; FBI agents become mentally strong by facing their situation head-on—no sugarcoating allowed.

Mental Toughness - lightning in hand

My fellow agent and I learned that mental strength is not something you are born with. It is something you can learn. If I learned it, so can you, but only if you’re willing to put in the discipline and effort it takes.

As an entrepreneur or business owner, you need to think big and act courageous. You need the fierce determination that comes being a mentally strong leader. Core beliefs about yourself and your abilities will guide your daily decisions.

You will never become a mentally strong leader if you:


A mentally strong leader lives their life with purpose and meaning. They are an active participant in where their life is going. They have found a direction in life and set overarching goals for what they want to achieve.

Without goals to anchor us, we find ourselves adrift in life. We may think we know what our goals are, but if we aren’t living our life around them, then we’re not living our life on purpose.


A mentally strong leader understands that they need to frequently, and critically, analyze their performance, especially their failures. When they do, they identity those patterns of behavior that are not productive and nip them in the bud. Unfortunately, “teachable moments” are usually accompanied by feelings of frustration, disappointment, and embarrassment. 

Psychologists find that we tend to repeat the same mistake, and repeat it in endless variety. That is the definition of a blind spot


A mentally strong leader accepts the fact that life evolves, and are smart enough to not be surprised when it does. It is natural to react with anger and skepticism because these emotions are trying to ensure your survival. But new situations can provide you with opportunities to learn important lessons about yourself such as your reactions, values, vulnerabilities, triggers, and how to take better care of yourself.


A mentally strong leader has a beginner’s mind that does not need to prove or disprove anything. It has the humility to hold “what I do know” with “what I don’t know.” Holding this kind of tension leads to wisdom and not just easy answers.

When we allow ourselves the luxury of trial and error, like a child learning to walk, we experience a feel-good neurological response. Similarly, when tackling new and difficult challenges, we experience a rush of adrenaline, a hormone that makes us feel confident and motivated.


A mentally strong leader has a growth mindset that looks at success as hard work, learning, training, and having the grit to keep moving ahead even when faced with obstacles and roadblocks.

A growth mindset anticipates transitions that come from uncertainty because it interprets failure as nothing more than an opportunity for learning and improvement.


A mentally strong leader knows how to keep a tight rein on ego. The ego is always asking “How will this make me look? How will I benefit?” It looks for ways to prove it is right and others are wrong.

When we keep ego in check, there is room for the wisdom of others to get in. We are able to listen more deeply, learn with an open mind, and adapt new skill sets.


A mentally strong leader has the courage to move out of their comfort zone and into their zone of discomfort where they may feel awkward, clumsy, and alone. 

When we get into a comfort zone, we often strive to stay right there—where we have found success. But it is the average leader who stops at success, because success and peak performance are often two different things. Whole lives are spent reinforcing mediocre performance.

“Mental toughness is believing you will prevail in your circumstances, rather than believing that your circumstances will change”—LaRae Quy

Are you ready to become a mentally strong leader?

© 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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6 Responses to “7 Reasons You Will Never Become A Mentally Strong Leader”

  1. Terri Klass says:

    Terrific list and post LaRae! I love your point: “Mentally strong leaders have a growth mindset that looks at success as hard work, learning, training, and having the grit to keep moving ahead even when faced with obstacles and roadblocks.” Recognizing that one needs to continually learn new skills and provide themselves with new personal and professional opportunities is critical to a mentally strong leader.

    I also love your idea of not necessarily being born to mental toughness but rather committing to learning how.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Thank you, Terri!

      It’s so important to remember that no one is born mentally strong…it’s a process of hard work and discipline for everyone!

  2. Karin Hurt says:

    Excellent list. Real courage from truly knowing and in creating deep connection with others and in the world we live in. I particularly liked your #3, that’s where I see a lot of derailing. It’s easy to be tough when life is easy. The true test is what happens when the going gets tough.

    • LaRae Quy says:

      So true, Karin. It is easy to think of ourselves as mentally strong when the challenges are weak. It’s choosing our attitude and how to keep moving forward that distinguishes a mentally strong leader.

  3. Alli Polin says:

    Excellent, LaRae! I also know people who profess to know exactly what they value and want to achieve but until they let go of the coward’s heart are left living a life of “less than.” Oh to choose courage, strength, mental toughness and begin LIVING the life we long for. Thanks for your consistently great insights along the journey!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      And right back atcha, Alli! I also love appreciate the way you share you and your family’s journey.

      It’s hard to look at ourselves with honesty and pinpoint those times when we have taken the coward’s way out. That doesn’t make me a coward in general, but it does mean that are times when I’d prefer to play it safe rather than live the life I long for!


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