Posts Tagged ‘confident’

Boost Your Self Esteem – 5 Effective Ways

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Self esteem is an essential component of FBI Firearms training. FBI agents train to use good judgment when confronted with stressful situations. They are confident in their ability to handle all types of weapons because they spend hours developing their skills.

When we have high levels of self esteem, we are less vulnerable to anxiety and stress. 

Self esteem is your belief in yourself. It is a fuel source and it powers your approach to both business and life. Almost everyone has experienced a time in their career when they’ve lost faith in themselves. It could be the loss of a job, a failed business, the startup that hasn’t quite started, or the realization that they are in the wrong career.

I learned quickly in the FBI that success would not make me confident. Instead, confidence would make me successful. Loss of self esteem is a loss of dignity and self-respect, and that is a downward spiral that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Here are 5 effective ways you can boost your self-esteem:

1. UNDERSTAND YOUR ENVIRONMENT

understanding your environment will help to improve your self esteem

When I was transferred to a new city or squad, the first thing I did was identify the top performers. I learned the secrets to their success, from their interactions with colleagues in the office to the way they conducted their investigations in the field.

Troubled relationships with supervisors and colleagues can easily destroy even the most talented person’s confidence. If you have relationships that are troubled, try to identify when/where/why it happened. Then, look for ways you can do to get things back on track.

How To Make It Work For You: Take the time to study your environment, especially the people with whom you work. Educate yourself on how to recognize different personality types so you more easily identify what makes the people around you tick.

2. FIND A MENTOR

find a mentor to boost your self esteem

After I identified the top performers on my squad, I made them mentors. The toughest nut to crack was a group of 4 male agents who hung around together and had all the best cases assigned to them. They were an exclusive club so I labeled them “The Gang Of Four.”

Trying to become one of them was laughable, but I knew I needed to mirror their approach to working counterintelligence cases. They would die of shock if they knew I considered them to be my mentors, but they gave me the perspective I needed if I wanted to be confident—and successful.

By latching onto their attitudes and habits, I better understood the culture of my environment. They helped me identify the unwritten rules of the FBI that boosted my self esteem.

How To Make It Work For You: There is a big difference between a coach and a mentor. A coach is someone who sees the potential in who you can be, while a mentor is someone you’re trying to imitate or mirror. Both are essential but if you are experiencing lack of belief in yourself, surround yourself with people who are experienced and confident so they can show you how to move forward.

3. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF

be honest with yourself to improve your self esteem

In the FBI Academy, we trained how to run down and tackle an individual resisting arrest. I was a lousy runner and showed up at the rear end of every race our class ran. The idea that I could run down or even catch up with a suspect produced snarky comments and rolled eyes from my classmates.

Yep, my self esteem suffered mightily but I also knew that true confidence must be grounded in reality. I had to make an honest assessment of my skills and strengths (I excelled in firearms), and then plan for ways to grow my strengths so I could manage my weaknesses.

Ego can take a hit but it’s essential that you are honest about your abilities. Pretending that you don’t have drawbacks or weaknesses is just being stupid. Instead, be smart and get ahead of them so they don’t sabotage you when you’re confronted with a stressful situation.

How To Make It Work For You: Find ways to get constructive feedback and criticism on what others see as your strengths. It will make it easier to shake off unfair criticism that you may receive in a competitive work environment.

4. HEAL FROM THE PAST

healing from your past will improve your self esteem

Take the time to uncover any unresolved or stress-producing issues that could still be lingering from your past. If you struggle with something from your past that drags you down, now is the time to have the mental toughness you need to deal with it, once and for all.

How To Make It Work For You: Get a counselor or therapist if you need one, but it’s time to slay that demon once and for all. “Age and wisdom do not always travel in pairs. Sometimes age shows up by itself.”—LaRae Quy

5. EXPLORE NEW LIFE EXPERIENCES

explore new life experiences to gain self esteem

One of the best ways to boost your self esteem is to learn a different skill-set by starting a new pastime. Your ego is not as invested in an avocation as it is in your career, so it will feel less threatened if you fail. 

Each time you learn something new, you will build confidence in what you’ve accomplished. You will build self-awareness of how you deal with disappointment, rejection, or failure.

To get something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done.

To boost your self esteem, you will need to wrestle with your fear of failing as if the quality of your life depends on it. Because it does.

How To Make It Work For You: Notice how you respond to both failure and success. What can you learn from your experience? The more you understand how you respond to situations where you experience failure or success, the better you can craft the reaction you want.

© 2017 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.” 

7 Mental Hacks To Be More Confident In Yourself

Monday, October 17th, 2016

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 built the self-confidence necessary for my career. Boosting confidence is the primary goal of the Academy—before they send agents out with a gun and badge.

successful-business-woman

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—confidence in myself and my abilities would make me successful.

On the first day, I was filled with doubt. I had never shot a gun, made an arrest or investigated a foreign spy—these challenges pushed me outside my comfort zone. I felt like I was at the mercy of the unknown, not knowing how I would land on my feet. But I held onto my dream of becoming an agent and plodded forward.

I’d venture to guess entrepreneurs, leaders and business owners might share some of the same fears I faced at the FBI Academy: How can I pull this off? But in my 24 years in the FBI, the only four-letter word I didn’t hear was “can’t.”

To be confident in our abilities is the cornerstone of leadership. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can others believe in you? Here are seven ways FBI agents learn to boost their confidence—mental hacks you can use to be more confident in yourself, too:

1. BUILD CONFIDENCE BY PUSHING THROUGH SELF-LIMITING BELIEFS

As children we think we can conquer the world, but somewhere between childhood and adulthood, our enthusiasm and natural inclinations to dream big are squashed. Parents and teachers start imposing their own beliefs—about what we can and can’t do in life—upon us.

If the instructors at the FBI Academy were not pushing us past our self-limiting beliefs, they weren’t doing their job.

How to make it work for you:

Find your limits by exposing yourself to different situations and pushing through the uncomfortable. Once you have confidence in yourself, you’ll be amazed what you can accomplish.

2. BUILD CONFIDENCE BY NEVER CONFUSING MEMORY WITH FACTS

Adversity - give up!

Our memory does not store information exactly as it’s presented to us. Instead we extract the gist of the experience and store it in ways that makes the most sense to us. That’s why different people witnessing the same event often have different versions.

Your brain has a built-in confirmation bias. That means it stores information that is consistent with your own beliefs, values and self-image. This selective memory system helps keep the brain from getting overloaded with too much information.

So recognize that your memory does not always provide you with accurate information. For example if you have low self-esteem, your brain tends to store information that confirms your lack of confidence. That will be all you remember about a specific event.

How to make it work for you:

Revisit the facts of a memory loaded with self-limiting beliefs and try to gain a more accurate perspective on the event. Talk with others that might have a different perspective.

3. BUILD CONFIDENCE BY TALKING TO YOURSELF

This might seem crazy, but it works. Talking to yourself can make you smarter, improve your memory, help you focus and even increase athletic performance. The documentary The Human Brain claims we say between 300 to 1,000 words to ourselves per minute. The Navy SEALS and Special Forces use the power of positive self-talk as a way of getting through tough times.

For example by instructing recruits to be mentally tough and speak positively to themselves, they can learn how to override fears resulting from the limbic brain system, a primal part of the brain that helps us deal with anxiety.

How to make it work for you:

Be positive, because the way you talk to yourself influences your neurobiological response to it. When you say, I know what to do here or see things as a challenge rather than a problem, you’ve turned your response into a positive one.

4. BUILD CONFIDENCE BY THINKING POSITIVELY TO OVERCOME YOUR NEGATIVITY BIAS

Willpower - rough road ahead

Since the early days, humans learned to get lunch or be lunch. Our natural negativity bias has kept us safe from danger for thousands of years. But not every new or different thing is a threat to our survival. This negativity bias can chisel away at our confidence because we’re hardwired to pay attention to all that we’ve done wrong.

FBI agents are taught to hunt the good stuff. It can be hard at times because positive information is like Teflon and easily falls away. But negative information, like Velcro, sticks.

How to make it work for you:

  1. Come up with five positive thoughts to counter every one negative thought.
  2. Let every positive thought sit for 20 seconds before moving to the next positive thought.
  3. Acknowledge both good and bad emotions.
  4. Do not try to suppress negative ones.
  5. Label the emotions for what they truly are and move on. Do not enter into inner dialogue about the negative emotion because then it becomes more powerful.

5. BUILD CONFIDENCE BY RAISING YOUR CURIOSITY LEVELS

Curiosity is an important trait for FBI agents working investigations and anyone who wants to be confident and successful.

Curiosity is the foundation of life-long growth. If we remain curious, we remain teachable and our minds and hearts grow larger every day.11 We can retain our beginner’s mind by always looking forward and discovering new experiences and uncovering new information.

How to make it work for you:

Ask questions and be curious because:

  1. It makes your mind active instead of passive.
  2. It encourages you to be more observant of new ideas.
  3. It opens up new worlds and possibilities.
  4. It creates an adventurous response that leads you in a new direction.

6. BUILD CONFIDENCE BY OVERCOMING SELF-DOUBT

Courage - take the path

If you lack self-confidence, you will always feel like you’re at the mercy of other people. When you assume a victim mentality, you are no longer resilient to life’s inevitable obstacles and roadblocks.

FBI agents go where they are needed, not to where they feel most comfortable. I was assigned investigations I had no idea how to solve. But my thinking was this: Drop me into the middle of any squad or any situation, anywhere, anytime. I will not be scared because I am confident and I will succeed wherever I am.

How to make it work for you:

No one but you is stopping you from achieving what you want to accomplish. It’s time to identify the areas in which you doubt yourself and remove those barriers.

7. BUILD CONFIDENCE BY FACING YOUR FEARS

When we feel in control, we’re not afraid. When we have a level of comfort with something, it’s not scary. When we don’t feel in control, we don’t think clearly because our emotional brain is in the driver’s seat and takes over. This is why fear often seems random and irrational—our emotions are in control.

To increase safety, FBI agents are taught to move closer to the threat. It does no good to avoid, deny or ignore the fear.

How to make it work for you:

Harvard Medical School professor Ronald Siegel recommends this in his book, The Mindfulness Solution:

  1. Think about your worst fear.
  2. Spend time with it.
  3. Now make your fear worse by getting closer to it.
  4. Imagine the worst that could happen.
  5. Now focus on your breathing.
  6. Feel your body relax.
  7. See, you didn’t die, did you? You’re on your way to conquering your fear.

If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect anybody else to? Start today.

This article first appeared on Success.com

© 2016 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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Why Successful People Never Blame Others

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

As a young adult looking for the perfect job, I wanted to blame others for why my life wasn’t spectacularly successful.

Success - finger pointing

It was always someone else’s fault—not recognizing my potential, not giving me a chance, not giving me a second (or third) chance.

I became an FBI agent at the age of 25 but I still balked at taking full responsibility for my actions, whined when things didn’t go my way, and pointed fingers at someone else when things went south.

This attitude was challenged the first day of my training at the FBI Academy. I was there to learn lessons. And once I learned a lesson I moved on the next one. The pieces shifted into place when I realized that if I failed to learn a lesson, I needed to keep finding opportunities to learn it again and again until it stuck.

For entrepreneurs and business owners, it means having the mental toughness you need to get through the failures and hard times, without giving up or blaming others for your situation.

Here are 5 reasons why successful people never blame others:

REASON #1: When You Don’t Blame Others You Become Resilient

The FBI Academy and my first couple of years as a field agent quickly knocked these negative traits out of my system because to be successful, agents need to be resilient.

To be resilient is to recognize that if you are dissatisfied with certain aspects of your life, then it is your responsibility to take the initiative and do something about it.

TIP: Take responsibility for your actions—stop whining, blaming others, and pointing fingers if you don’t get what you want.

REASON #2: When You Don’t Blame Others You Become More Confident

Lack of confidence in ourselves and our abilities is a major reason we blame others when something goes wrong.

Instead of being open or curious about learning more, a part of us shuts down. Sometimes we blame ourselves as much as blaming others. Focusing on why we failed at something does nothing more than chip away at our confidence; instead, dig down and uncover what we can learn from the experience.

TIP: Consciously and deliberately move into an exploratory frame of mind that is more curious about learning than shameful of making mistakes.

REASON #3: When You Don’t Blame Others You Stop Making Excuses For Yourself

Blaming others for our own actions is nothing more than making excuses for ourselves. In the process, we will have learned nothing from what has transpired and so the lesson inevitably will have to be learned again…and on it goes.

Stop blaming others for what you have or don’t have, or for what you feel or don’t feel.  When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility and perpetuate the problem. Blaming is just another sorry excuse, and making excuses is the first step towards failure; you and only you are responsible for your life choices and decisions.

When we blame others, we give away our power.

Often, our thinking is caught up in blame and dealing with the pain of our thoughts and what it all means rather than simply and quickly doing what we need to do.

TIP: Start to question your thoughts and probe deeper into why you default to “blaming others.” Ask yourself, “Is this really true?” Often you will find the basis of those thought are just plain silly! The key is to question your thinking because once you do, you often discover that what you think you believe really isn’t true at all.

REASON #4: When You Don’t Blame Others You Allow Space For Personal Growth

Too many of us spend so much of our time on going through the motions of living—getting married, buying homes, climbing the corporate ladder—that we don’t focus on personal growth. We do not allocate enough time just for ourselves.

Instead of concentrating on what others did wrong, focus on what you want to go right in your life. And then do it.

Grit up. Be. Fiercely. Awesome!

If you don’t, you will wake up some day and realize that you are no closer to being the person you want to be than you were years ago. You will find that you’ve aged, but never grown into your potential.

TIP: Realize that the next step in living a life full of value and meaning for you will not reveal itself in the future—it is to be taken now

REASON #5: When You Blame Others You Become The Victor, Not the Victim

When you feel the victim, you gain power over the situation by blaming other people for your situation.

Loss of control over one’s life is always associated with feelings of helplessness. There is a very clear link between mental toughness and the way we approach our helplessness.

If we believe a situation is permanent, we’ll remain helpless—we think about our lack of talent, ability, etc—and believe nothing we can do will change it.

But if we believe the cause is temporary, we can act to change it. We feel more in control if we believe we have a possible solution at hand.

TIP: With each problem you face, you can learn a new skill or new fact.

Why do you think you blame others?

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

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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9 Powerful Ways To Build Confidence

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

During a mock trial, I was selected to be a witness and cross-examined by a criminal lawyer. The purpose of the mock trial was to give FBI agents an idea of how defense attorneys would try to distort our words and use them against us, especially in front of a jury.

9 Powerful Ways To Build Confidence

We were in a real federal courtroom with real lawyers and judges. I had never testified in a court of law before—I felt inadequate, uncertain, and afraid that I would blow the case by saying the wrong thing.

Sure enough, I answered the defense attorney’s question and she immediately twisted the meaning of my words. I wanted to say, “That’s not what I meant,” but she had already moved on to another topic. I was flustered and my lack of confidence plummeted ever further.

When she asked another question, I kept my answer very short. I knew that I risked sounding defensive but I simply did not have enough confidence in myself to engage with her at any length. Realizing that my lack of conviction about her client’s activities would not present a real threat, I was quickly dismissed as a witness.

All I remember about that entire exchange is how crappy it felt to be both humiliated and impotent as a government witness in a mock trial.

Lack of confidence can rear its ugly head at any time. No one is immune because we are most vulnerable any time we’re out of our comfort zone or experience change in our life.

Confidence is closely linked to mental toughness because it takes a strong mind to conquer fear, anxiety, and worry.

Our brain is naturally wired to pay more attention to negative thinking because bad news has alerted us to danger for centuries. Our cave dweller ancestors went out each day to “get lunch” not “be lunch.”

But not everything that is new or different is a threat to our survival these days. The good news is that we can train ourselves to be more confident. Here are 9 ways:

1. Isolate Your Fear

In my case, I was afraid of making a fool of myself in front of my colleagues during the mock trial. I was afraid of what they might say and think if I screwed up.

Other common fears are: fear of how others perceive us, fear of being physically hurt, fear of commitment, or fear of failure.

It is important to dump the ego and get right down to the origin of your fear.

2. Take Action

If you hesitate and wring your hands, your fear will only grow.

I should have prepared better, worked harder to anticipate the way the defense attorney would parse my words, and trusted my own judgment.

3. Deposit Positive Memories in Your Memory Bank

We are bombarded with so much information that our brain stores information in a way that makes sense to it.

So, if you lack confidence, all your brain will remember about a specific event are those things that confirm you messed up.

If you hold a memory freighted with lack of confidence, go back and revisit it to make sure you are remembering correctly. Often, you will find out that others did not perceive or remember an event the same way.

At the end of each day, examine it. Remember all the positive and good things that you said, did, or accomplished that day. Reflect on all the positive victories and go to sleep with those memories on your mind.

4. Withdraw Only Positive Memories

It is easy for any negative thought, with enough encouragement and recall, to turn into a mental monster. The best way to defeat it is to ruthlessly nip it in the bud.

Find at least 3 things every day for which to be grateful. Write them down. Smile when you think of them.

Successful leaders move forward with confidence because they learn from their fears and failures, and then let them go.

5. Respect Yourself

If you don’t respect yourself, why should anyone else? I can’t think of any situation where a doormat is someone who is respected.

If you are not in a situation where you do not feel respect from others, change your situation; do not walk—run. The devil you don’t know is NOT worse than the devil you know.

Perhaps this means changing friends, jobs, or relationships—whatever it takes, place yourself in a position where you respect yourself and others reciprocate these positive feelings.

6. Sit In The Front Row

I always sat in the front row of every class I ever took. It takes confidence to sit in the front row and be noticed, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Start today and sit in the front row of every meeting, conference, or class you attend. Start getting comfortable with being noticed.

7. Make Eye Contact

Body language is important in building confidence. I immediately categorize people who do not look me in the eye as losers, whether they are or not. This means they have to work extra hard to convince me they are not.

Failure to make eye contact indicates either 1) they feel inferior to you and lack confidence, or 2) they are guilty of something.

This may be a great clue when interviewing suspects, but it’s not the message you want to be sending to your team members.

8. Walk Faster

I’ve had people come up to me out of a crowd and say they knew I was an FBI agent because of the way I walked—fast!

You know what, my time is important, and where I’m going is important—or I wouldn’t be going. Don’t be an average walker, or an average thinker. Moving with intention says, “I’m going to be successful.”

9. Speak Up

A sign of a true milquetoast is someone who doesn’t speak up. Instead, they feel their opinions don’t matter and that no wants to hear them.

Each time you clam up you are injecting more confidence-poison into your system. Your feeling of inferiority and inadequacy will just keep growing.

Bite the bullet and speak up! Practice what you are going to say ahead of time so it sounds good. Keep it short and pithy.

You will be amazed at how good it feels!

How do you build your confidence?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

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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What Really Holds Women Leaders Back

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

As a retired female FBI agent, I take umbrage at the assumption that professional women don’t have what it takes to move their career to the next level without special assistance or lowering the standards of the position so they can be hired.

Stressed businesswoman screaming into phone inside small cubicle

I served on a search committee recently where one of the members of the organization said to me, “We need a woman to fill this position. Whomever you pick, make sure it’s a female.” My jaw dropped—she was implying that special consideration should be given to the women who applied.

I responded to that individual with such unfiltered intensity that she started backing away from me. “Do you truly believe that there will be no qualified female candidates?” I demanded. “We’d be doing women no favors by hiring someone just because she’s a woman!”

As it turns out, the best candidate was a woman, and she was hired!

The fact is, men still make up 95.2% of Fortune 500 CEO’s positions. Men comprise the majority of corporate boards, and Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel stands out like a lightbulb as a female head of state.

While blatant bias no longer blocks women leaders from soaring into top positions, there may still be residual discrimination. But research is showing that societal factors are the biggest culprit in nudging women away from top level careers.

Here is what really holds women leaders back:

Math Is A Four Letter Word

Researchers have repeatedly found that girls and boys do not differ in average mathematical abilities. 

For math-centric fields, in which women are very scarce, it appears that a difference in interests is the primary factor to explain the disparity. Girls are told from an early age that they do not have an aptitude for Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) so they opt for other professions.

According to neuroscientist Lise Eliot, there are small inherent differences in aptitude between males and females at birth (boys seem to have an edge in spatial cognition). Society takes these differences and makes them much bigger—by supporting boys in math and science and by discouraging girls to pursue careers in these areas.

Stereotypes Are Alive And Thriving

When we expect an individual to perform at a level below the standard, studies are finding that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy! 

Females who take tests in certain fields that are traditionally dominated by men do much better if they’re asked to fill out their gender after they’ve taken them

The seeds for this pattern of behavior are planted early. By the time girls are in high school, these self-limiting beliefs and lower expectations of their future have already been embedded into their thinking.

The Road Well Traveled

Many women leaders prefer to opt out of the competitive world of business and academia because they don’t believe leadership positions are compatible with having families.

These women don’t like the rules of the game, where working 24/7 for the first 20 years of their career is the only route to leadership. There aren’t enough options and pathways to the top today for people (men or women) who are not willing to play the game as it’s played today.

A 2010 Survey of Doctorate recipients indicates that women are more than twice as likely as men to leave the labor force. Most of those who were not retiring cite family considerations.

Bigger Really Is Better

The best and brightest young women can become great leaders. It’s easy to say, but do we need to convince women that they really should be going for the big jobs? Do women wither in the face of competitive leadership and business tracks?

Part of the answer lies in whether women feel confident they can fill the pin-stripe suit who occupied the desk before them. 

As much as the individual I mentioned earlier wanted my search committee to give the job to a woman, her attitude exuded a lack of confidence that a woman could get the job on her own merits. To me, that indicates a dangerous lack of confidence in the capabilities of the women out there on the fast track to leadership.

Home Sweet Hell 

According to a study of Harvard Business School alumni, women leaders want high-achieving careers even after they start families. 

The study also found that men generally expect that their careers will take precedence over their spouses’ careers and that their spouses will handle more of the child care. 

Women, on the other hand, expect that their careers will be as important as their spouses’, and that they will share child care equally—but, in general, neither happens. This pattern appears to be nearly as strong among Harvard graduates still in their 20s as it is for earlier generations.

Among women in the 32—67 age group, only 25 percent expected their husbands’ careers to take precedence. In reality, their husband’s career took precedence 40 percent of the time. Half of the women expected to handle a majority of child care; in reality, nearly three-quarters ended up doing so.

If strong women leaders want to take their careers to the next level—or to the top, they need to address the real issues that are holding them back.

What do you think really holds women leaders back?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

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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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