Most Important Tip For Building Mental Strength—Keep Moving or Die

August 3rd, 2014 by LaRae Quy

While at the FBI Academy, I worked with a coach to help me train for the physical fitness test. After a few weeks, I reached the magic number of 25 pushups and then fizzled. Hard as I tired, I couldn’t move beyond those 25 pushups.

mental strength

I was stuck. I had hit a plateau.

Athletes understand that plateaus are normal, as do CEO’s, scientists, and other successful professionals. When we are stalled, we’re often left with the question: what to do next?

The answer to this question matters a lot. Leaders who keep moving often find that the way they  made their way through plateaus ended up teaching them very important lessons about themselves.

The only way to survive when you’re stuck or stalled is simple: keep moving or die.

Here are 5 steps to keep you moving:


Leaders with mental strength keep moving forward by taking on challenges that will help them grow. These challenges are guaranteed to be unpleasant and will push them into their discomfort zone. 

The biggest reason we stay stalled is because we don’t like to fail. We stick with activities and goals that we know we will be successful in achieving. We would rather protect our ego than do something wrong, make a mistake, or be seen as a failure.

To be successful, you must keeping moving or die of mediocrity. There is little or no chance you will move out of your current level of competence or success unless you take a risk and move out of your comfort zone.


Leaders with mental strength know that failing sucks. But if they want to be anything more than mediocre, they also understand they need to give themselves permission to fail. Many times.

Successful leaders do not avoid the things that are hardest for them. Instead, they focus on those areas in which they need to improve. They do not avoid their mistakes or failures—they make the most of mistakes and failures by learning what they have to teach. 

Rather than looking at your failures as a negative thing, look at them as steps toward your success. 

It is your choice as to whether you learn from your mistakes and failures, or if you let them go to waste. 

Never let a good crisis go to waste—Winston Churchill


Leaders with mental strength who are serious about moving through transitions or breaking through barriers are ready when new opportunities come up. One of the best ways to do this is by writing and practicing their script—they do not just start babbling when opportunity knocks. 

Their preparation gives them both poise and confidence.

You never know when an opportunity to further your career or embark on a new challenge will present itself so be prepared.

Your script is a two-minute speech that summarizes your life, skill set, and aspirations. It is a personalized approach that plays up to your strengths and presented to the person in front of you.


Leaders with mental strength vision their success when faced with difficult or stressful situations. It helps take them beyond their self-limiting beliefs about themselves and move them beyond their current circumstances. 

Visioning helps open the doors of possibility and opportunity by encouraging you to prepare for meetings by asking yourself: “What questions are likely to come up?” “What objections can I expect?”

Visualize your answers and the way in which you will answer them. The very act of giving your brain a detailed portrait of your end goal ensures the release of dopamine, a powerful mental toughness tool to steer you toward success.


Leaders with mental strength experience the same feelings of demoralization that come with failure and taking risks that everyone else does. That’s why they rebuild their morale by hanging out with others who are experiencing the same situation. They compare notes, trade tips, and remind each other that they are on the right path.

If you want to be a mentally strong leader, you must keep moving forward. If you wait for success to come to you, you will die of mediocrity.

Every morning in Africa, a Gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a Lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle… when the sun comes up, you’d better be running—African Proverb.

I eventually did move past the 25 pushup plateau, and I did it by visualizing my success.

How do you keep moving toward success?

© 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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8 Responses to “Most Important Tip For Building Mental Strength—Keep Moving or Die”

  1. Karin Hurt says:

    Perfect timing. I had one of those stuck feeling days yesterday. Although there were so many things that were moving forward, I was having trouble writing a speech and I was really hard on myself about it. You can’t berate yourself into creativity. I finally had to step back and look at all the other things that were progressing. Then in the middle of the night, I found the missing link to the talk. Sometimes I think you need to also recognized momentum to stay encouraged.

    • LaRae Quy says:

      We all have those days of feeling stuck and/or stalled, Karin.

      You make such a great point: we can’t berate ourselves into creativity. And recognizing our momentum gives us the encouragement to keep moving!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I love your site – before I dig in I want to ask if this info is good for guys too?

    Dr. Ken Newhouse

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Hi Ken…so glad you stopped by!

      YES! Even posts that are targeted at women in the headlines are definitely great tips for guys, too. My new book, Mental Toughness for Women Leaders, is just as good a read for guys as it will be for women 🙂

  3. Great post, LaRae and one that speaks to all of us!

    Love the idea of preparing scripts so that one is ready to seize an opportunity when it opens up. It is important that we give ourselves time to reflect and decide upon the action we need to take to move forward. It may take some discovery and exploration before sprinting ahead but time well spent. Nothing comes quickly that is worthwhile. Sometimes we can’t be open to the best possibilities unless we have done our research and know our direction.

    We enjoyed it!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Thanks, Terri. Preparing scripts can be an incredibly handy little tool, especially if you’re hoping to network with folks who can open doors. I think what I like most about them is that I can relax and come across as confident when in a situation where I need to let folks know my areas of expertise and interest.

      A single friend of mine always puts on make-up and dresses up whenever she leaves the house…”You just never know who you’ll meet in the grocery store,” she says. The same idea applies to professionals: you never know who you might meet that you need to impress on your way up the ladder…

  4. Alli Polin says:

    Love this! So easy to stop taking risks because it’s too scary and we might fail – even when the status quo is far from perfect. It’s amazing the energy that comes when you break through a self-imposed barrier and realize that it was in you all the time.

    Thanks, LaRae!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      So true, Alli! It’s so empowering when we realize that we had what it took to break through a barrier within us the whole time! We just needed a little coaxing, and self-confidence!

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