Posts Tagged ‘goals’

5 Ways Great Leaders Get Through Tough Times

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Great leaders are defined by tough times; this is when they either lean into their inner toughness for the grit they need to keep moving ahead, or become victim to circumstances they have not learned to control.

One of the greatest leaders of all time was Genghis Khan. He conquered substantial portions of Central Europe and China to create the largest empire in history.

Temujin was born into a nomadic Mongol tribe in 1162. When Temujin was 12 years old, his father was killed and the family left to die in the harsh Mongolian winter. Temujin and his family survived, but the lessons he learned evolving from manhood at the age of 12 into the warrior known as Genghis Khan, are timeless.

As I read his story, I was struck by how human nature never changes.

The disciplines used by Genghis Khan created a great leader who had the mental toughness he needed to prepare for the unknown and embrace the unexpected. They are the same disciplines great leaders need today to face unexpected turns in the marketplace, compete against new competition, and embrace changing technology.

Great leaders are effective, no matter the challenges they face. Here are 5 ways they get through tough times:

1. GREAT LEADERS FOCUS ON A CLEAR GOAL

Genghis’s father was the leader of his Mongolian tribe but was assassinated by a rival. Genghis  and his family were then left to starve in the cold winter. Genghis had one goal in mind as he developed the skills necessary to become a great leader in those bleak months and he never lost focus of that goal—to stay alive.

My goal was to become an FBI agent. Albeit very different circumstances, both Genghis and I dug deep to find the passion behind our goals; it’s what kept us going.

How To Make It Work For You: You owe your team a clearly defined goal worthy of dedicating their efforts. You also need to demonstrate that you are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen. Goals can shift over time so it’s important to measure progress on a regular basis.

2. TIE THAT GOAL TO A PURPOSE

While goals can shift, our purpose never does. Genghis had one purpose in life—to see the enemies who killed his father brought to justice. Even though he amassed the largest empire in history, he never became distracted by a desire for possessions or wealth as he became more powerful.

Genghis’s wounds drove him; most of us have wounds that drive us. What is important is to learn how to channel the passions that run the deepest toward achieving something we never thought possible.

How To Make It Work For You: We all come out of childhood wounded; it’s where we begin to develop the character that shows itself in great moments as adults. You have a choice: you can piss and moan about how life has handed you unfair circumstances, or you can take the bit between your teeth and convert your wounds into strengths. Grit Up and develop mental toughness.

3. BUILD UP ENDURANCE

As a boy, Genghis trained by running up and down a mountain with a mouth full of water. Over time, he got to where he could return to the starting point and spit the entire mouthful on the ground. This was a triumph that signaled he had developed the aerobic strength to run up and down mountains breathing only through his nose.

The FBI Academy had new agents run around a basketball court with a medicine ball in one hand and sweaty towel in the other. At the time, I failed to see how building endurance would make great leaders.

In hindsight, I understand they are inexorably interlinked. For both Genghis and myself, we were pursuing goals that were truly important to us.

How To Make It Work For You: Building endurance requires that you find a purpose that has value and meaning for you; persevere and do not give up, believe that you are giving it your best, and have confidence that you are in control of yourself and what happens to you.

4. STRETCH TOWARD PEAK PERFORMANCE

Genghis Khan used archery to conquer his empire. Drawing a bow and arrow from the back of a galloping horse and accurately hitting the target is not easy. Genghis mastered his art by doing two things:

1)    He developed the power to heave the thick bow back so he could aim his arrow. The Mongolian bow was covered with so many layers of sinew that it had the pull of approximately 160 pounds.

2)    He understood the movements of the horse he was riding. When a horse is galloping, there is a moment when the horse is air-borne and all four hooves are off the ground. In that split-second, as he sat in his saddle and sailed through the air in smooth flight, he could shoot his arrow with enough accuracy to hit the target.

How To Make It Work For You: Genghis Khan honed his skill with the bow and arrow. In the same way, you and I can build our mastery by pushing the boundaries of our skill levels. Experts agree that your grasp should exceed your reach by about 4% if you want to achieve peak performance.

5. DEVELOP A HIGH-FUNCTIONING TEAM

Genghis Khan took the time to understand the thinking and movements of his chosen partner—in his case, a horse. He studied the movements of the animal and synchronized them with his own so they functioned as one fluid and powerful weapon.

In this modern age, you and I work with other partners in business and life, and if we plan to be great leaders, we will need to understand the way they think so we can enable them to perform at optimal levels—especially during tough times. We need to anticipate their reactions as much as we need to anticipate our own.

How To Make It Work For You: Spend time understanding what makes your team members successful and what makes them fail. Don’t stop there; help them understand as well so they can start thinking ahead of time about how they will react in tough times. This will free up both you and team to spend your energy adapting quickly in crucial moments.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

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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.”

5 Evidence-Based Tips To Develop Stronger Minds

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Growing up on a cattle ranch in Wyoming, I learned to survive by being scrappy enough to make-do and hungry enough to keep moving. Department stores were big buildings in places 100 miles away, and if a rattle snake came between me and where I wanted to go, guess who came out on top?

Willpower - Getty image

As a kid I learned a lot about mental toughness. When I joined the FBI, I learned even more. My defensive tactics and firearms training drilled one thing into me: never choke when faced with an obstacle that looks bigger, meaner, or uglier than you.

In other words, always be game-ready so you can have the mental toughness to rebound from disappointments and missed opportunities. Our coaches trained us to have a hardiness for enduring the downside of a situation.

Entrepreneurs, leaders, and business owners have tough situations to face in today’s competitive environment. They need to be game-ready meet those challenges with their best mental game.

Here are 5 evidence-based tips on how to develop strong minds:

DEVELOP STRONGER MINDS #1 Set A Super Clear Goal

Research confirms that the more specific your goal, the better you will perform. General goals are too vague so take the time at the very beginning to think it through so it will become more clear to you.

The goal must be real and important for you to achieve. Do not speculate—that will do nothing but waste your time and valuable energy.

TIPS:

  • Define your need and really mean it.
  • Describe in detail exactly what you want.
  • List what you want—it will help you visualize your success.
  • Define what will interfere in achieving your goal.
  • Determine the starting point.
  • Establish a time frame for achieving your goal.
  • Break down the tasks necessary for completion.
  • Tell others what you plan to do.

DEVELOP STRONGER MINDS #2 Learn To Be OK With Pain

soldiers

We all know we are most motivated just before a deadline—our pulse quickens and our focus narrows. We can use the same principles of neurobiology to help us be mentally tough when it comes to meeting our goals.

Handling tough negotiations, dealing with competitors, and climbing the corporate ladder are not easy achievements, but if you are pursuing something that holds both value and meaning for you, you will embrace the discomfort that comes from pushing yourself past self-limiting barriers.

Whether it’s physical, psychological, or emotional discomfort, pushing past the pain of exertion will require you to suck it up. Leaders who have mental toughness are able to function when they hit their pain threshold because their minds are trained to ease their way through it.

My defensive tactics coach used to shout out, “No pain, no gain!” It captures the idea that we need to move past the point of comfort to achieve professional excellence.

TIPS:

  • When you feel you are starting to hit the wall, stay in the moment and concentrate on the task in front of you. When you focus and concentrate on the task, it is easier to see where small steps can be taken to keep you moving through the wall you are facing. If you lose your concentration, all you will see is the wall! Your mind takes over and tells you that the task is impossible, so you crumble and wilt.
  • Craft your goals as a target you are moving toward. Athletes are rarely thinking how far they are from the starting line but rather how much closer they are to the finish line.

DEVELOP STRONGER MINDS #3 Get Competitive

Runner

As badly as I hate to admit this, I was passed in a 6K run by a woman pushing a baby carriage. My pride took a real nosedive at that sorry moment, but it prompted a real competitive spirit within me.

I made sure the woman never got more than a few paces ahead of me for the rest of the race. I focused my eyes on her back and kept her pace until we crossed the finish line.

Inch by inch, life’s a cinch; yard by yard, life is hard.

TIPS:

  • Identify your competitors.
  • Gage where you stand against them.
  • Pick out one competitor who is slightly ahead of you in terms of talent and skill set.
  • Find the scrappiness to stay up with them, and eventually, move past.
  • Throw your lasso around the next competitor ahead of you and do the same thing.

DEVELOP STRONGER MINDS #4 Talk To Yourself

suspicious

The way in which we talk to ourselves can influence our behavior in both positive and negative ways.

Self-talk used by FBI agents and Navy Seals is not just a motivational message like “You can do it!” In studies published by Perspectives on Psychological Science, it was determined that the most useful mental message is the “instructional self-talk.”

This is the kind of running commentary we engage in when we’re carrying out a difficult task, especially one that’s unfamiliar to us, to keep us focused on what we are learning and what we need to do next.

Learning forces us to focus our attention on the task before us so we can screen out distractions. It also helps us regulate our effort so we can make better decisions about what to do, how to do it, and when.

TIPS:

  • Recent studies have found that self-talk is most effective when incorporated into a series of thoughts and actions.
  • First, comes a thought where you set a goal for yourself and make a plan on how to get there.
  • Second, your performance follows where you enact the plan to the best of your ability.
  • Third, spend time in self-reflection when you carefully evaluate what you’ve done and adjust your plan to be even better next time.

DEVELOP STRONGER MINDS #5 Picture It

Beautiful mountain at nz

Visualizing your success is based on solid science. When you imagine yourself doing something before you do it, you are programming your mind to think you can. By visualizing your performance repeatedly, your brain will store that information as a success.

With each success, our brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This is the chemical that becomes active when we encounter situations that are linked to rewards from the past. Dopamine enables us to not only see rewards, but to move toward those rewards.

TIPS:

Mental toughness is the ability to manage our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that will set us up for success. It’s truly about mind over matter.

What additional tips would you add?

© 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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7 Surprising Ways You Can Increase Your Willpower

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

The majority of complicated and sophisticated cases worked by the FBI take several months, if not years, to solve. It can take willpower to doggedly continue to pursue new leads and maintain the hope of bringing the case to a conclusion.

Willpower - man on top of mountain

Whether I was sitting across from parents whose child had been abducted, elderly people who had been swindled out of their life savings, or a young executive coming to grips with the fact that her company was the victim of corporate espionage, I felt the full heft of responsibility as the lead investigator.

I was committed to these people, and I promised that I would do everything in my power to bring justice in each of their situations. The idea that I might fail them was scary.

You do not tell the parents of a missing child that the case is “too hard,” give up, and walk away. No—this is when you realize how willpower plays such a crucial role in mental toughness.

There are times when you simply must keep moving forward—family, career, and life depend upon it. Surrender is not an option.

Every day we are tempted to surrender and quit. It might be a cookie that is tempting us to stray from a diet, a warm bed in which to sleep late and miss work, or the feel of cool water on a beach instead of spending time strategizing our next career move—we all need willpower to decide the direction in which we will take our life.

Willpower is the ability to resist impulses with discipline and self-control. Researchers are discovering that willpower is a mental muscle, and certain physical and mental habits can weaken or strengthen our self-control.

Here are 7 surprising ways you can increase your willpower:

1. Don’t Leave Home Without Your “Why”

To activate your willpower, you must remind yourself why something is important to you. If you are engaged in meaningless tasks or jobs, willpower will not save you.

When you have a purpose and are pursuing a goal that has meaning and value for you, your willpower can be tapped into because you are committed to something important to you.

2. Keep Front Sights On Your Goal, Not Your Fear

When you focus on the goal, your concentration is channeled into a productive cycle of thinking. Instead of worrying, or becoming fearful, focus on planning how you will move toward your goal and overcome your obstacle.

Once you get your mind straight, and focused on your performance, options and plans of action become clearer.

3. Wrap Your Behavior Around Your Goal

It is easier to muster the shot of energy you need if you define your goals as specific behavior. For example: if I my goal was pushups, I should specify a number, like “35 good pushups” rather than just “do more of them.” If it’s a behavioral choice, the goal becomes a natural outgrowth.

Nordstrom is a great example of how a company can define its goal in terms of behavior: superior customer service. Sales and customer loyalty are the by-products of Nordstrom’s behavior.

4. Good Habits Are The Magic Bullet

Charles Duhigg explains in his book, “The Power of Habit,” that habits cannot be eradicated; instead, they must be replaced. Habits are most malleable when we keep the same cue and the same reward.

If you want to change a habit, you must find an alternative routine. You may need to change your environment to make sure what you should do is easy and what you shouldn’t do is hard.

For example, perhaps you want to accomplish more first thing in the morning—study your habits to determine why you tend to feel groggy when you wake up. You may need to go to bed earlier, stop taking sleeping pills, or avoid alcohol in the evening.

For a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible. While belief is essential, it often only emerges with the help of a group—even a group of two people is large enough to change habits.

The best way to accomplish any change is by having a supportive group of friends around you.

5. Do The Hardest Thing First

Once you’ve set your goal, it must become a priority. Wishing for something to happen won’t make it happen. Reorganize your day so that you have time to make your goal a reality.

You have the greatest amount of mental energy in the morning. The National Academy of Sciences reports that a survey of parole board judges determined that the judges were most likely to give a favorable ruling earlier in the morning. The odds of a favorable ruling plummeted right before lunch.

6. Master Your Mindset

In the old days it was believed that willpower was a limited resource, or that it could be jumpstarted with a sugary drink. Failure of willpower over bulging waistlines and dead-end careers could be blamed on our biological limits.

This myth has been debunked by newer research. According to a study conducted by The National Academy of Sciences, willpower can indeed be quite limited — but only if you believe it is!

When people believe that willpower is fixed and limited, their willpower is easily depleted. But when people believe that willpower is self-renewing — that when you work hard, you’re energized to work more; that when you’ve resisted one temptation, you can better resist the next one — then people successfully exert more willpower.

It turns out that willpower is in your head.

7. Be The Person Too Stupid To Quit

There is a reason we admire people who have achieved long, happy marriages and overcome difficulties in life. Those individuals remain persistent even when it doesn’t appear that success is guaranteed.

There is value in delayed gratification—some things are worth holding on to; the key is knowing which ones.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent—Calvin Coolidge

How do you increase your willpower?

© 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 5 Things Build Trust In A Relationship?

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

I spent most of my professional career trying to recruit foreign spies to work for the FBI. Foreign Intelligence Officers are trained to believe that FBI agents are not to be trusted because they are manipulative and greedy. 

Communication - 2 people

This stereotype can be a hard nut to crack. FBI Agents have to be masters in selling themselves and their product. The only way to do this is by building trust with the other individual.

And you know what? If I tried to fake it, it didn’t work.

Strengthening relationships is not just a priority for counterintelligence FBI agents who want to establish trust with the Targets of their investigations. You may need to develop trust with team members, competitors, and new clients—it is the most important factor in building relationships.

From my own background and experience, here are some key things you need to do in order to develop trust:

1. Work Hard To Understand The Goals And Priorities Of Others

I developed a genuine appreciation for the Target of my investigation. If I couldn’t, I walked away from the case—the Target deserved better from me.

Your greatest need may be to build stronger connections with competitors, or those who would rather see you fail than succeed. No matter your current relationship, let them know that their goals and priorities are important to you.

Mental toughness is controlling your emotions rather than letting your emotions control you—do not let anger, resentment, or jealousy interfere with your own goals and priorities—to win their trust!

Keep your friends close; keep your enemies even closer.

2. Never Lie About The Things That Matter

I approached my meetings with the Target as a collaboration of honest conversations. I never lied to the Target. I met him in true name and laid out the proposal in plain language. No tricks and no bait-and-switch.

When you look at someone as an object, or as good or bad to your career, trust cannot be built. Instead, try to be non-judgmental and understand:

  • Their objectives and goals
  • Why it is their objective or goal
  • What they are truly after
  • Where you can find common ground

3. Never Succumb To The Temptation of Manipulation

I always believed my relationship with the Target would be long-term and beneficial to both of us.

Whenever a self-serving agenda becomes apparent, we know we’re being manipulated. When this happens, make an effort to understand why they feel the need to manipulate you rather than communicating with you in a more direct manner.

Maybe they don’t trust you?

Look for ways that you can help them think about other, more successful ways they can be successful in what they want to achieve. And then help them achieve their goal.

4. One Favor Deserves Another

I resisted the temptation to feel angry or put-upon when the Target started testing our relationship by asking for favors—especially ones that would help make him look good in some way.

The law of reciprocity says that when we do someone a favor, the other person will feel an obligation to reciprocate that favor at some point in the future. Over time, the need to reciprocate the interest, kindness, and effort that you’ve made on their behalf will pay off.

Trust is built faster and stronger when your agenda is not the first priority.

5. Get Rid Of The Ego

I treated the Target as an equal, and not as a second-class citizen even when I knew he was trying to steal classified U.S military documents.

It’s tempting to take the moral high ground, but I always made an effort to understand why they made the choices they had in life. As I listened to their answers, I answered non-judgmentally and followed up with questions that were not freighted with judgment. 

It means suspending the ego and the certainty of your rightness in the matter. If you make the conversations all about them, you are continually validating them as human beings.

William Shakespeare wrote this famous line—“Love all, trust few.” He had it right—trust only in the few who take a genuine interest in understanding your needs and wants. Trust is not an act.

Once people trusted me, they trusted my message.

Whose message do you trust?

 

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE Mental Toughness Assessment

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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 Ways To Tackle Big Goals

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

I learned to tackle big goals growing up on a remote cattle ranch in Wyoming. Our ranch house was located at the bottom of a canyon, cut deep into the earth over the years by the North Laramie River. 

Adversity - climbing mountains

Several times a year my Dad would climb the steep south mountain of the canyon to visit an elderly neighbor woman named Sophie. The cliffs of the canyon rose 1,000 feet on either side of the ranch house, covered with boulders and littered with the debris from an occasional landslide. When I turned 8, Dad finally relented and allowed both my brother and me to climb with him on one of his visits to Sophie. He had not heard from her for a while and she had no telephone. Anxiously, I wondered how we would “stick” to the rocks and not fall off.

He told me not to worry about how we would tackle that big goal as I looked up from the bottom toward our goal—the mountain top. Instead, he told me to keep my eyes on the few feet of mountain around me so I could find places to put my hands and feet. The places to pull ourselves up with our hands and steps that led upward would reveal themselves as we got closer. 

Even though the mountain side looked sheer from the bottom, there were lots of crevices and places to climb once we got started. They were invisible from below, lost in the grandeur of the larger view.

By breaking down my goal of climbing the mountain into small steps to be taken one at a time, I was successful and able to reach the top.

Leaders with strong minds are successful because they tackle big goals by breaking them down into tiny, clear chunks.

If you spend too much time contemplating the huge distance between where you are now and the goal you want to achieve, there is a risk you’ll never get started.

Here are 7 ways to tackle big goals:

1. LEARN TO CHUNK

Too much information can be as intimidating as it is inspiring. Chunking is breaking down larger goals into achievable steps. This will help you understand all the tasks involved as you tackle big goals so you can create a timeline to get them done. Chunking tasks that are related is an efficient way to think because the brain loves to make connections. 

Chunking often works best when you work backwards from your goal. As you tackle big goals, think about the obstacles you need to overcome, barriers you need to break, customers you need to contact, or product you need to produce if you want to be successful.

By breaking down a huge project into smaller chunks, you can also experience the sense of achievement and progress.

2. CREATE MINI-GOALS

Often the best way to tackle big goals is by breaking the project down into several mini-goals.

Take a closer look at each goal and see what steps are needed to achieve that specific goal.

3. DEVELOP VISUAL MAPS

Many of us are visual people. If you are, develop visual maps so you can get a picture of

a) where you are,

b) where you want to end up,

c) what needs to be done to accomplish it.

4. PRIORITIZE

To tackle big goals, it helps to prioritize what tasks need to be done. Once you do, this will help you place them in chronological order so you can see what needs to be done

a) first,

b) alongside others,

c) alone.

5. IDENTIFY DIFFICULT TASKS

If you tackle big goals, chances are good that one or more of the tasks will require more effort or additional training.  If possible, choose the time you can tackle them rather than waiting until they are foisted upon you when you are least prepared to deal with them.

6. BUILD A TIMELINE

Decide when you need to reach your goal if you have the luxury of setting your own deadline. If you do not have that luxury, write the deadline down and then identify how much time you will need to accomplish each step and mini-goal. If you’re pressed for time, how much of the work can you assign to others? Think about getting professional assistance if you need.

 

Successful people understand that clarity gives us certainty. Small, clear goals keep our attention focused as we tackle big goals.

After I made it up the mountain, I felt as though I was sitting on top of the world! Sophie was there and made us lunch, and then we headed back down. What I learned that day was that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when confronted by a big task. However, by keeping these steps in mind, you create a way to reach the top.

How do you tackle big goals?

© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

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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Living With Purpose Is The Secret To A Long and Healthy Life

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

I met Oleg a few years back while I was working as an FBI undercover agent. Oleg was a Russian spy sent to the U.S. to steal proprietary economic intelligence. My job was to find the answer to two questions: 1) what specific technology was he trying to steal, and 2) would he be amenable to working with the FBI as a double agent?

PODCAST:

 

Inspiration - river canoe

I wasn’t sure how to go about pursuing these questions at first, but Oleg provided one of the answers soon after I met him.

I made arrangements to attend a seminar that I knew he would be attending. The seat next to Oleg was empty, so I wasted no time in gently shoving a gentleman out of the way so I could get there before anyone else.

As Oleg and I chatted, one thing became obvious: he was bored with his job. It wasn’t that Oleg couldn’t talk about certain aspects of his overt job (not the spy part),  it was that he didn’t want to talk about them. He couldn’t drum up enough enthusiasm about it to even keep up a good conversation. His lack of engagement in what he was doing was a clue that he was not doing something he felt passionate about.

Turns out Oleg isn’t the only one who is dissatisfied with his career.

A recent Harvard Business School survey indicates that we have a 23-year low in job satisfaction and 84% of Americans say they want a new job.

Most of us are passive spectators in our life. We plan careers, retirement nest eggs, and vacations, but we do not plan our life. 

Mentally tough people live their life with purpose and meaning. They are an active participant in where their life is going.

Here is the real clincher—having a sense of purpose may add years to your life. Recent research has concluded that purposefulness is a strong predictor of longevity. In the past, behavioral scientists have understood that having a positive outlook and strong relationships contributed to living a longer and healthier life. 

New studies, however, suggest that purpose itself is what drives longevity.

Finding a direction for life and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you live longer. 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.

Over 80% of Americans do not have goals; 16% say they do have goals but don’t write them down. Less than 4% actually write them down. 

Research has shown that people who regularly write down their goals not only life longer and healthier lives, they also earn as much as nine times more than their counterparts who do not write down goals.

Start living a longer and healthier life by thinking about your own experiences and the things that are important to you.

Here are some simple ways to dig down and find your purpose:

1. WHAT ACTIVITIES AND SITUATIONS FROM YOUR PAST HAVE LED TO TRUE SATISFACTION?

  • Start a log.
  • Jot down activities, people, circumstances, and experiences from your day.
  • Notice when and how your attitude changes.
  • Look for patterns.

2. WHAT YOU ARE YOU ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT?

  • Make a list of what you’d do if money weren’t an issue
  • Remember what brought you joy as a child
  • Enjoy those memories for a few moments
  • Reflect on what brings a smile to your face today

3. WHAT IS DRIVING YOUR RESTLESSNESS?

  • Pinpoint your attitudes and habits of behavior.
  • Acknowledge your fears.
  • Accept your strengths.
  • Identify your desires.

As the psalmist says, “Search your own heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life.”

What is standing in your way of finding your purpose? How can being authentic help you be a better leader? 

© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

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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4 Ways Successful People Move Toward Peak Performance

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

The ranch I grew up on in the middle of Wyoming was isolated so it was impossible for my brother and I to attend public schools. Instead, we had a private tutor. The only person I had to compete against in my class was myself, so it was a continual game of personal best. 

PODCAST: 

 

Success - yeah

I worked hard to beat my own record, and my teacher would respond by saying, “Look at you—you’ve worked hard to get a better score.”

As I’ve gotten older, I realize that my teacher’s response was incredibly unusual. Instead, most teachers, parents, and others in the educational system respond with, “Look at you—you are so smart.”

Without realizing it, my teacher had a growth mindset which believes that people get better by challenging themselves.

The opposite represents a fixed mindset and is represented by how our educational system distributes grades and how most corporations conduct performance appraisals: talent is something that happens to you, not something you make happen.

Whether you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset influences how you approach peak performance.

Peak performance is successfully using mental toughness to develop the power of the mind and to practice mental skills training in every aspect of life.

Successful people believe that they can challenge themselves to continually grow and improve performance. 

Let’s take a look at how they do this:

1. WHAT GRABS YOUR ATTENTION RULES YOUR LIFE 

We intentionally focus our attention on what is important in our life and those areas we want to grow.

Our consciousness can handle only so much information, so we have selective attention. One key part of the brain which focuses our attention is the Reticular Activating System (RAS). It filters out important information that needs more attention from the unimportant that can be ignored. Without the RAS filter, we would be over-stimulated and distracted by noises from our environment around us.

Focusing on the goal + focusing our attention on the activity to achieve the goal at the same time overstimulates the brain.

Attaining a goal is something that happens in the future, and it pulls our attention away from where it needs to be in order to focus in the present moment. This explains why so many golfers miss a putt at the end of the final round or why football players drop the ball inches from the finish line.

They choke because their attention switched from the present and moved into the future. As a result, they lose their focus.

Whatever we choose to focus our attention on will make it past the mind’s filtering system. 

2. CHUNK IT BY BREAKING DOWN GOALS

Successful people establish their goals. They visualize themselves achieving those goals. And then they break those goals down into tiny, clear chunks. 

Successful people understand that clarity gives us certainty.

You and I can also break down our goals into tiny, bite-size tasks and move from there. Small, clear goals keep our attention focused and yet are not enough to stress us out.

3. LOOK FOR FEEDBACK TO HELP KEEP YOU MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

In order for feedback to be most effective, it needs to be immediate. The smaller the gap between output and feedback, the more we will know how to perform better. The reason is that our attention does not need to wander because the information is at hand.

If real-time feedback is not possible, find a way to measure your progress. It’s important that your feedback loop is timely. 

For yourself, and others, tighten the feedback loop as much as possible—try to make it a daily habit.

4. STRETCH YOURSELF TO ACHIEVE PEAK PERFORMANCE

You need to stretch yourself to perform to your greatest potential. Exactly how much you need to stretch each time is debatable, but experts generally agree that the challenge should be 4% greater than either your skill or your last effort.

Increased stress will lead to increased performance—up to a certain degree. When you move beyond the healthy levels of stress, both performance and health will decline. 

In high doses, stress can kill us. Ironically, it is also fundamental to psychological and physical growth. 4% growth is seen by researchers as the magical tension between challenge and skill. Most of move past 4% increase in performance without noticing, and it’s beneficial because this tension keeps us locked in the present and gives us enough confidence that we can do it again. 

Our success begins and ends with our mental toughness. We can move toward peak performance once we find ways to use our mind to do it.

How have you pushed toward peak performance? What tips can you add?

© 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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Determination — 8 Effective Steps

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

I learned a lot about determination during the long, harsh Wyoming winters where I helped my parents load hay onto a truck so we could feed our cattle. 

My life changed dramatically when I entered the FBI Academy at Quantico. The focus was on building upper body strength, again—only this time, instead of stacking bales of hay it was the pushups that were required to graduate from the Academy. My coach told me to “kiss the ground I walked on” if I expected him to “count” my pushup. Although I had grown up throwing around 50 pound bales of hay, I had a difficult time mustering the strength to do a pushup that counted in the eyes of my coach.

I questioned how gutting out the perfect push-up was going to make me a better investigator or make it easier to find foreign spies.

But there was no choice; every day at the FBI Academy involved some kind of physical activity. I entered the FBI Academy quite confident in my physical abilities. On the very first day, I found myself compared with other new agents who were far more talented, not only in physical fitness but in other categories as well.

My environment had drastically changed. The people who were now my colleagues represented the cream of the crop. I was not as talented as many of the other new agents but that did not matter. I had to look hard and deep to find qualities in which I excelled but I was determined to succeed. I would not give up. I would learn to survive in this new environment in which I found myself.

Giving up is easy. Anyone can do that. When you do, you surrender. You fall down because others wore you down with their constant message that you won’t succeed.

Determination is continuing to move ahead even when life hasn’t thrown you a perfect hand.

It is the deliberate action of doing something again and again until you get it right. And then maybe doing it again after that, too. If you can dig deep and find the discipline to persist, you can harness a power that is has unlimited potential.

Nothing can take the place of determination. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius cannot make you successful; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Persistence and determination alone will keep you moving ahead when your circumstances and environment has changed.

I straightened my back at the FBI Academy and dug deeper. A strong mind is not built on something that is slapped together on a shallow foundation. It needs solid rock—like a skyscraper, the higher you want to go, the deeper your foundation must go.

Many of our most important goals require persistence if we want to achieve them. I learned that there are ways to increase determination —and here are some of the techniques that helped me:

1. Determination Means Facing 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.

2. Determination Requires You To Be Honest With Yourself

Be honest about what you want to achieve, who you want to become, and the obstacles that are preventing you from achieving your goals. Be honest with every aspect of your life because you are the one person who always has your best interests at heart.

3. Determination Helps You Find Your Purpose

If you are not pursing something that holds value and meaning for you, you won’t have the determination that is required to keep moving through obstacles and roadblocks. You’ll be tempted to give up because it’s not where your heart truly is at.

4. Determination Defines Behavior

Identify the specific steps you need to take to achieve your goal. Define your goal in terms of behavior.

5. Determination Takes Small Steps

If you start with small goals, it will be easier to move up to bigger goals as you move forward.

6. Determination Requires Organization

Once you’ve set your goal, it must become a priority. This is often where weak wills meet rubber roads. Wishing for something to happen won’t make it happen. Reorganize your day so that you have time to make your goal a reality.

7. Determination Requires Vigilance

Watch for Excuses. Determination is getting yourself to do something you don’t necessary want to do. Don’t give yourself permission to come up an excuse to avoid working toward your goal.

8. Determination Is A Habit

Getting into a routine is very important. There will be many times when you feel as though you’ve made no progress, but remember it’s important to not give in. In my book, “Secrets of a Strong Mind,” I talk how about the steps necessary to build habits that will lead you toward doing what you need to do to reach your goal.

Every day I kept at it, making a little progress at a time. Eventually, I could do the thirty-five pushups needed to pass the physical fitness requirements at the Academy. In retrospect, I have to say that my lesson in pushups was one of the most valuable I learned in my training: determination is the key to unlocking life’s obstacles. Instead of seeing them as threats, they are simply challenges to be met.

How has determination made a difference in your life? 

© 2012 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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How To Pick Friends Wisely

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

I grew up on a large cattle ranch in a remote part of Wyoming so I didn’t know how to pick friends wisely. We were hours away from the nearest small town so I went to a little country school with one other pupil—my brother. 

During my grade school years, I didn’t have friends as I didn’t count my brother as one. Instead, we took turns taunting each other at recess.

It was a lonely existence. When I started to attend a public school at the age of fourteen, I quickly learned that friendship building is an art, and one that can be quite messy at times.

Back then, I wasn’t picky about friends.  I just thought the more, the better. Friends meant I was popular, and when you’re a kid who is different from everyone else, that matters a great deal.

At first I thought that once I grew older, friendships would be more sincere and less superficial. I also used to believe in Santa Claus, so call me gullible. As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve realized that I deserved better than friends who either would not or could not help me become my best self.

Plato once said, “People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.”

If we are not nourished, our souls will choke and wither away. Jesus warned against putting down roots in poor soil. We grow where we are planted, and rich soil is likened to a noble and good heart. We are empowered to move forward with confidence as leaders.

Learn how to pick friends wisely—they create the environment in which you will either thrive or wilt. Give everyone the opportunity to be a friend, but share your dreams and goals only with those who value them as much as you do.

Here are 5 ways:

1. How To Pick Friends Wisely—Change Whom You Hang Around With

You have different friends for different parts of your life. If you have moved into a phase of life where you’re determined to set your own course, find people who can help you visualize what that future can look like. Like it or not, you become similar to the friends you hang out with. Your associations have a lot to do with where you’re at in every area of your life. Your friends are going to influence your behavior, so why not pick ones who will be a positive influence?

2. How To Pick Friends Wisely—Establish A Benchmark

Ask yourself whether spending time with this person will lift you up or drag you down? Will spending time with this person help you to become your best self? Will you be happier after spending time with this person? Will this person help you achieve your most important goals? If not, find friends who will.

3. How To Pick Friends Wisely—Find People To Help You Achieve Your Dreams

Make a list of five people whom you trust to listen to you attentively and tell them about your dreams and goals. Sharing details of our life creates trust, and if you don’t feel you can trust a person with the most vulnerable part of yourself—your dream—find someone else for a friend.

4. How To Pick Friends Wisely—Create An Advisory Board

Identify a group of friends who can help nourish the best in you. Meet with them regularly. Advisory Boards are made up of people who will lift you up, challenge, inspire, and hold you accountable.

5. How To Pick Friends Wisely—Find A Mentor

Have you ever talked with someone who thought you could accomplish more than you thought you could? Who gave you permission to follow your dreams? Who saw more in you than you saw in yourself? This is exactly the kind of person who would make a great mentor and encourage you to move toward your goals.

One of the best moves you can make in life is to surround yourself with friends who see the potential in you that you may not even see in yourself.

What criteria do you have for finding good friends who help you be your best self?

© 2012 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.”