Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

5 Mindsets Of Resilient People

Monday, October 9th, 2017

When I interviewed with the FBI, I was asked why I wanted to become an agent. I answered, “I want to make the best, better.” Apparently my interview panel liked that answer because 6 months later I was in the FBI Academy.

My answer was freighted with the stuff that makes resilient people—grit. It’s not knowing how, but doing it anyway. Push through the obstacles and crap that shows up in life, and always seek ways to improve and be better at what we do.

Organizations need resilient people. We all know that things do not always go according to plan, and employees can lose both heart and focus. When it happens, leaders need to be resilient people who are flexible and resourceful so they can create productive work environments for people. Uncertainty and ambiguity are the enemy, but if we want to survive in today’s environment, we’d better get used to them.

The right mindset produces the coping skills we need to resilient. Here are 5 mindsets of resilient people:

1. ACCEPT THAT IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU

In the FBI Academy I was surrounded by colleagues who were truly extraordinary people. I did not feel as though I measured up against them; after all, most were seasoned armed forces personnel, successful trial lawyers, or stalwart law enforcement officers. I was a buyer at a fancy department store. When I stood and introduced myself at the FBI Academy, everyone turned to get a look at the fluffball who had accidentally found herself at the Marine Corp base In Quantico, VA.

I suffered the instant humiliation of being average, and being average in an organization like the FBI is akin to sanctioning a standard of failure. I could either wallow in self-pity or I could accept  that it was not all about me.

Instead of worrying that I was not exceptional, I honestly evaluated my skill set and understood where I was mediocre and average; but this is what made me resilient—I knew I could improve.

Resilient people focus on improvement, because it shifts the focus from feeling sorry for their situation to the humble acceptance that we all need to find where and how we can improve—whether it’s in our relationships, our ability to embrace change, or in our corporate governance.

The pressure to be the next best thing is automatically lifted from your back, along with the stress and anxiety that comes with being “exceptional” in everyone’s eyes, especially your own.

TIP: Success will not make you a better person. All the self-esteem coaching and books in the world only gives you permission to focus on what you don’t have. You don’t need more mantras or affirmations; you need a better way to look at your world. No matter where you are in life, simply focus on how you can improve as a person.

2. PRIORITIZE WHAT IS IMPORTANT

 

Events in themselves are not necessarily traumatic. It’s the way we choose to interpret those events that produces the negative emotions. Events can be neither good nor bad; it is our interpretation of them that makes them good or bad.

If someone puts a gun to your head and orders you to run 6 miles, that is a negative event. If you run 6 miles to graduate from the FBI Academy with a throng of people cheering you on, it is a positive event. Its the same 6 miles; what is different is your attitude.

Resilient people choose the right mindset when they focus and prioritize their thoughts based on what matters to them. This produces a mindset that teaches them how to fight for what they want in life without becoming a casualty themselves.

TIP: Resilient mindsets are those that choose to be the victory rather than win the victory. Real success comes from who they become, not what they achieve.

3. REFUSE TO PLAY THE BLAME GAME

The only 4 letter word I never heard in my 24 years in the FBI was “can’t.” Do not bitch, whine, complain, or blame others. As agents, we took responsibility for the cases we investigated and worked hard to help the victims. We looked struggles in the eye because they produced the kind of problems that were worth fighting for.

To make an excuse for yourself or shirk responsibility is immature. You might as well lower your standards here and now because you’re not resilient enough to face life’s struggles and endure the pain and ambiguity that is needed to move forward.

When you choose to live according to your values, you automatically generate a better set of problems. When you have better problems, you have a better life.

TIP: Ask yourself, “What am I willing to struggle for?” Remember: Life is hard. Pain is inevitable. Growth is optional.

4. BRING IT ON

One of the things the FBI liked about me is that I grew up on a remote cattle ranch in Wyoming. I was tough scrappy, and full of grit. They liked that I wasn’t coddled, pampered, or entitled. When I was 5 years old, I got bucked off my pony, Socks. I learned early that getting knocked down was part of life; I also learned that getting back up was part of it as well.

Snowflake is a term used to characterize the young adults who are more prone to taking offence and less resilient than previous generations, or are too emotionally vulnerable to cope with views that challenge their own.

They are entitled people and they are not resilient because they need to feel good about themselves all the time. Entitled people are needy—they put themselves before others. Besides being a pain in the ass to be around, they crumble when things get tough. You can’t count on them when the chips are down.

The easy way does not create resilient people. You may want to start your own business or work your way into the C-suite, but you won’t end up a successful entrepreneur or executive unless you find a way to work through the uncertainty and ambiguity that comes with change and risk.

If you want the benefits, you also have to want the struggle. A beach body requires the sweat of intense workouts. To lose weight, you have to want the hunger pangs that go with it. If you want success, you have to want the hard work, persistence, determination, and endurance that comes with success.

TIP: If you keep finding yourself wanting something but never getting closer, then maybe what you are looking at is a fantasy. Or even worse, a false promise.

5. STOP TRYING TO BE HAPPY

Happiness is transitory. It can claim our full attention for a few moments, and then it disappears as it passes through our life. Happiness doesn’t have the same heft as an emotion like sadness, joy, or contentment. It’s a bit of fluff; nice, but of no real consequence.

Happiness depends upon external circumstances, those in which you are never in total control. Happiness is anchored in the future and depends upon outside situations, people, or events to align with your expectations.

Joy and contentment, however, depend upon our internal circumstances. They can’t be bought and don’t rest on someone else’s behavior. You can get fired, dumped, pulled through the coals of a fire and still feel joy deep in your heart.

It is in our choices that we become mentally tough. We learn to prioritize our emotions, thoughts, and behavior so we can pick what is important to us based on our values and beliefs.

TIP: All the “be happy” shit is a lie. Happiness is an emotion; joy is an attitude. Demand more from life than a few fleeting moments of an emotion that draws its power from others. Instead, dare yourself to dig down deep and find joy.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

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

5 Reasons Why All This Happiness Bullshit Is A Lie

Monday, July 10th, 2017

I feel happiness when I eat my favorite ice cream, joy when my 25lb Labradoodle sleeps on my lap or gazes into my eyes, and contentment when I can share the truest part of myself with trusted friends.

While most of us wish for happiness, very few of us ever define what happiness means to us or what happiness feels like.

If you can’t define what that happiness looks like to you, your life will suck. Self-help books on happiness are everywhere, but often do nothing more than remind you of exactly what you don’t have.

Here are 8 reasons why all this happiness shit is a lie—and how you can change your mindset:

1. Happiness Is Transitory

If you think about it, the transitory things in life are happiness-based. Once the ice cream is gone, I’ll look for something else. Happiness claims our full attention for a few moments, and then disappears as soon as it passes through our life. It doesn’t have the same heft as an emotion like sadness, joy, or contentment. It’s a bit of fluff; nice, but of no real consequence.

We can be happy with a big house, a big career, and big diamonds. We can lose houses, careers, and material things. That does not mean we will live in misery.

How To Make It Work For You

Replace the stuff, people, and the problems they bring with a stillness that resides deep within you. It is exactly in that stillness that you will find the joy and contentment that resides within, dependent upon nothing external in order to exist.

2. Happiness Looks To The Future

Happiness relies on outside situations, people, or events to align with our expectations so that the end result is our happiness. It is linked to the hope that “some day when I meet the right person” or “when I have a second home,” or “when I get the right job.”

If we rely on external circumstances to make us happy, we are never in control.

How To Make It Work For You

Since happiness is reliant upon external circumstances, we tend to put our happiness off to some point in the future. Joyful people prepare for the future, but they also know they cannot control it.

Learn to adjust to the surprises that the future holds for you rather than lament on how unlucky you are.

3. Happiness Suppresses Negative Emotions

I’m a big believer in positive thinking, but I also believe that negative emotions can teach us incredible lessons. The key is to be honest about what we are feeling; if it is negativity, get to the bottom of it. Pretending we don’t have negative emotions or tamping them down so they can’t surface is extremely unproductive and unhealthy.

Constant positivity is an avoidance system because it forces us to deny the existence of life’s problems. True happiness, joy, and contentment is found in our ability to work through our struggles, not deny they exist.

How To Make It Work For You

Negative emotions are a call to action. If they spiral downward into depression, take them to a professional therapist. But just because something feels good, it doesn’t mean it is good. And just because something feels bad, it doesn’t mean it is bad. Fear produces negative emotions, but we need to differentiate between a negative nagging emotion that is prompting us to move into action and those that are warning of a threat to our life.

4. Happiness Relies Too Much On Shitty Values

Most people have no idea of their personal values. They imitate what they see in others, in movies, or in books. If you don’t have a clue of what is important to you, you’ll never find happiness let alone the deeper emotions of joy and contentment.

Have the mental toughness to define what truly gives you happiness, and ultimately, joy and contentment. When you prioritize your values, you will see which values are ones worth suffering for and which ones are crap and should be be thrown out.

Prioritize your values and you will notice that none of them will feel like your old idea of happiness.

Contentment and joy are deeply embedded into our set of values. They can’t be bought and they don’t rest on someone else’s behavior. We can get fired, dumped, or pulled through the coals and still feel joy deep in our heart.

How To Make It Work For You

Fill in the answer to this sentence:

I value ______ because I need _______ and _______.

My answer: I value honesty because I need truth and authenticity.

Honesty, truthfulness, and authenticity are the values by which I measure my success and failure. These are the standards by which I judge myself and those around me. I seek out people, community, and situations that will allow me to live by my truest values. This produces happiness, yes, but something even more important: joy and contentment.

What about you?

5. Happiness Denies The Value of Struggle And Pain

Some of life’s greatest moments are full of pain, suffering, and struggle. Ask any parent, small business owner, or marathon runner.

Our values are defined by what we are willing to struggle to achieve. If something holds value for us, we will endure the pain and struggle of making it happen. The person we are (or will become) is defined by the way we overcome our struggles, suffering, and pain. Our greatest moments in life will be defined by these things, not by our pathetic attempts at happiness.

Joy is a lasting attitude while happiness is an ephemeral emotion. Demand more from life than a few fleeting moments of an emotion that draws its power from others. Instead, dare yourself to dig down deep and find joy.

It is in our choices that we become mentally tough. We learn to prioritize our emotions, thoughts, and behavior so we can pick what is important to us based on our values and beliefs.

How To Make It Work For You

Good values are achieved internally; bad values rely upon external circumstances. Once you’ve defined your values, prioritize them. What are the values you place above all else? These are the ones that influence the decisions you make in work and life.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

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

4 Characteristics That Set Successful People Apart

Monday, November 7th, 2016

The FBI only hires successful people because investigations often involve life and death situations where our mindset dictated the choices we make every day. As an FBI agent, being successful was not an option—it was a requirement. 

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The average age of a new agent is 32 because the FBI only hires people who have proven themselves to be successful in a previous career.

As successful leaders, entrepreneurs, and business owners, your ability to make decisions and execute is the lifeblood of your organization. As such, you need a mindset that says, “Grit up and make it happen.”

You need to have intense focus under pressure. Research suggests that it takes just the right mix of innate talent, personality traits, and life experiences to be successful and reach the top of the ladder.

Here are 4 characteristics that set successful people apart:

1. SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE GRIT UP

Grit Up!

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. The slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race—Calvin Coolidge

No matter how talented someone is, success demands psychological traits like grit and persistence if they expect to keep moving forward when confronted with an obstacle or roadblock.

A grit up and make it happen attitude requires confidence, competitiveness, positivity, and mental toughness. It also requires that you are able to relish your accomplishment while at the same time tolerating mistakes that you make along the way—self-criticism can be very destructive since it brings your focus on the negative instead of the positive.

TIP:

To sharpen this grit up mindset, place yourself in situations where you have ample opportunities to experience it. You can recognize when this mindset occurs when you are doing something excellent and you perceive you are close to your best performance.

2. SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE LOOK IN THE MIRROR

thinking

The way you view yourself predicts your level of effectiveness in every area of your life. It explains why the brain has such a powerful effect on your performance. If you see yourself as someone who cannot organize effective meetings, you won’t.

No matter where you are in business and life, you need to uncover and develop your skill sets. What you can glean from coaching and mentoring depends a great deal on how you see yourself.

Coaches and mentors can make you smarter, but they cannot make you smart.

Success demands that we identify our innate talents and skill sets, apply mental toughness to keep moving toward our goals, and train to develop and expand our talents.

TIP:

Most of what you think about yourself and your abilities were programmed in early childhood. This will play a decisive role in the way you approach challenges, and successes, in life.

Take the time to trace back the origins of many of the self-limiting beliefs you have about yourself. Ask yourself whether they are still true because you can use mental toughness to change your self-concept when new information is shown to you.

3. SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE FIND THE FLOW

Woman thinking

Successful people spend their time thinking about what they want to do and how to make it happen. And it doesn’t always take talent; it needs flow to make it happen.

Claude Bouchard’s research on elite athletes found no correlation between innate talent and trainability. Mental traits were just as important as fitness level in differentiating top athletes from amateurs.

Whether it’s an elite athlete, entrepreneur, business owner, or leader, the most successful people are those who have experiences described as flow—a state of deep absorption in the activity during which performance seems to happen effortlessly and automatically.

According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, flow happens when a person’s skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge so it acts as a catalyst for learning new skills and increasing challenges.

TIP:

If challenges are too low, one gets back to flow by increasing them. If challenges are too great, one can return to the flow state by learning new skills.

4. SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE DON’T EXPECT A BED OF ROSES

grit-training

There’s a long standing belief that happiness makes people achieve more. However, a study by sports psychologist Tim Woodman shows that happiness is not the key to success. In fact, it didn’t factor anywhere in the results.

Instead, those who were most successful had experienced a negative, critical event in their life—such as death, the divorce of parents, disease, or some other perceived loss, all fairly early in life.

This is when they kicked into high gear and began to develop their talents and skills, and in the process, changed their life course almost immediately. As a result, they felt valued, important, and inspired—perhaps for the first time.

What stands out in Woodman’s study is that these same individuals also experienced another critical turning point in mid-life. It could have been positive, like finding the right marriage partner, or negative, like the death of a loved one; but it caused these successful people to redouble their efforts.

The study also implies that those who do not experience trauma or tough times earlier in life are less likely to have the drive necessary to achieve peak performance. 

The mid-life event reminded them of the original loss and motivated them at a deep-seated level.

This is a common finding among successful people; they have a deeper motivation that pushes them toward fame, happiness, or money.

TIP:

Successful people are not content with beating their competition; they are just as interested in beating themselves. Personal best is very important because they believe they can always do better, no matter how well they perform.

They are always striving toward peak performance.

© 2016 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.” 

book

5 Ways To Control Emotions

Monday, July 25th, 2016

As Federal laws enforcement, FBI agents are required to control emotions as they conduct investigations in a fair and efficient manner. But it is difficult to look the victim of a crime in the face and not feel anger toward the person who caused the pain. 

Argument

When we let our emotions take control, we become a victim of our circumstances—LaRae Quy

Mental toughness allows us to manage our emotions, thoughts, and behavior in ways that set us up for success. Emotions and thoughts are linked, but if we can control emotions we do not have to be slaves to them.

Here are 5 ways to control emotions—and have a great day, all backed by research:

1. LOOK INTO YOUR FUTURE

After a long week all I wanted to do was sit, relax, and read. When a friend called and suggested we go for a rigorous hike. I hesitated. Which situation would benefit me the most?

When we can chose one situation over another, we have power over the emotional outcome of our day. So how do we make the right choice on how to spend it?

Psychologists find that people who are emotionally competent (you possess the ability to recognize and control emotions) tend to choose those situations which are most beneficial to them, regardless of whether or not it provides the most pleasure.

TIP:

Don’t let the pursuit of happiness lead you to make decisions that are based purely on fleeting emotional experiences. Instead, look into your future and make decisions that are grounded in a clear vision of long-term goals.

For example, I chose to go for the rigorous hike because physical exercise keeps both the mind and body active, even though I would rather have spent the time on a couch with a good book. 

2. MODIFY YOUR SITUATION

Competitive

I was early for a supervisor’s conference and took a seat; then Earl showed up and sat down beside me. Earl was irksome since he was the kind of guy who made snide remarks while other people talk. I decided to modify my situation—I got up, excused myself, and left the room. I chatted with people in the hallway for five minutes and I came back in. Sure enough, someone else had taken my seat next to Earl and I found another one across the room.

Sometimes it takes more than moving seats to get out of a negative situation. Some events—the loss of your job, the death of a partner, or an unexpected illness—are not controllable. However, no matter the stressful situation, look for ways you can be proactive and take interventional measures.

Recent research suggests that people who do not take steps to modify their situation only compound their problems. If they learn how to reframe their circumstances, they are better able to control their emotions.

TIP:

If the situation is uncontrollable, take proactive measures and expolore new opportunities and options that might not have been available to you before. If the situation is controllable, find ways to modify it—so you can control emotions before they spill out and make matters worse.

Either way, take action.

3. CONCENTRATE—OR DIVERT—YOUR ATTENTION

A female agent, whom I will Lucy because she was always a little loose with the facts, once gave her presentation during a squad briefing. I felt resentment grow with each word she said because the supervisor couldn’t see through her line of bullsh*t.

She exaggerated the facts to make herself look good so I chose to concentrate my attention squarely on Lucy. Why? I wanted to be very clear on where she was slipped up and gave false information.

Research by Gal Sheppes suggests that when we’re in an uncontrollable situation the best way to control emotions and deal with negative ones is to either concentrate on what is in front of us, or divert our attention.

In his studies, he found that most people preferred to divert their attention and think of something completely different when faced with a negative emotion. Since sad and distressing situations can exhaust us, avoidance and self-distraction can be very helpful.

TIP:

Forget traditional thinking where we’re told to find meaning in bad experiences. Instead, scientists say to choose the right coping strategy for the right circumstances. It’s the key to mental health. Sometimes it’s logical to disengage emotionally, but in other contexts it may be harmful. The key is knowing which is which.

4. TACKLE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS

Knowing that the person I arrested was responsible for the agony and heartache of others made it difficult to treat the suspect with the respect and dignity required by law.

It’s not always possible to turn away from disturbing or unfavorable situations. Mentally tough people tackle thoughts that lead to a negative emotional response. Studies have found that people can cope with unwanted emotions if they imagine the situation as an impartial observer.

When you imagine an event as though you’re a bystander, you will notice that you harbor fewer aggressive and negative emotions.

TIP:

Instead of asking, “Why do I feel that way?” I recommend you put the question in the third person: “Why does LaRae feel this way?” In this way, you can visualize yourself as a mere witness to events.

5. LET IT LOOSE

One of my interviews was a pedophile who had abused his daughter. Since I needed his cooperation, I smiled, kept my face a mask, and acted unfazed by his confession.

The man repulsed me and I had to work hard to keep my feelings from showing. Afterwards, I went for a run and took a long shower—even the smell of him made me nauseous.

Like me, most people try to suppress negative physical reactions when they are angry, frustrated, or disgusted by the situation. Studies by psychologist Roy Baumeister explain why we should not inhibit expressions of stress. If we do, it actually leads to exhaustion and is linked to health problems. My run after the interview was one of the healthiest things I could have done.

TIP:

When confronted with an intense moment, visualize the outcomes you want and identify the actions you need to take to make it happen. Regulate negative emotions; don’t avoid them. Negative emotions can prompt us to dig into our beliefs and misconceptions and help us discover new insight into ourselves.

How do you control your emotions?

© 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.”

52 Tips cover smallSSM book-cover

6 Habits Smart Leaders Never Forget

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Over a 24 year career, FBI Firearms instructors made us repeat the same series of actions on the firing range. After awhile, it got so repetitive that I wondered how I would fare in a shootout if I didn’t have my firearms instructor barking out orders on what to do next!

Habits - learn

In fact, our repeated behavior patterns became involuntary. In short, they became a habit.

I no longer needed to think about what to do when pulling my gun and aiming it at a target. My actions were involuntary so my mind could be used for something more productive—like assessing the crisis unfolding in front of me.

Good habits are the product of mental toughness—managing your emotions, thoughts, and behavior in ways that set you up for success in business and life. Smart leaders use good habits to direct their time and energy into activities that are important to them as they move toward reaching their goals.

Here are 6 habits that smart leaders never forget:

1. Look for Happiness, Not Success

Smart leaders pursue the things in life that brings them happiness. 

They are not seduced into thinking that success and happiness are the same things. When they hit tough times, they use mental toughness to keep moving forward because their heart and passion are hitched to a cause—failure or adversity is not enough to compel them to quit and move on and settle for something that provides less value and meaning in their life.

TIP: Ask yourself these two questions: “What will make me happy?” and “What will make me successful?” Do not mistakenly assume these two questions are one in the same.

2. Examine Every Mistake For Lessons Learned

Smart leaders know that mistakes teach you some of the most important lessons in life. 

They understand that the only real mistake they can make in life is not learning from their misstep, or choosing to do nothing because they were too afraid of making another one. 

TIP: Become a smart leader by taking chances—opportunities are where luck hides. It’s not about something falling into your lap; it’s about taking chances and finding your luck.

3. Explore All Opportunities, Whether You Feel Prepared Or Not

Smart leaders do not need to feel 100% ready when an opportunity arises.

They understand that all great opportunities will stretch them beyond their comfort zone. They will be stretched emotionally, intellectually, and philosophically. 

TIP: Since luck hides in opportunities, move forward with mental toughness so you can manage your emotions, thoughts, and behavior in ways that will set you up for growth. These opportunities will continue to show up throughout your life, so make the most of them—even if you don’t feel 100% ready!

4. Focus On Priorities And Say “NO” To The Rest

Smart leaders know how to say no, both to themselves and others.

They have learned that self-control helps them avoid impulsive decisions, stress, and burnout. Saying “no” is very different from saying, “I don’t think I can.” Saying NO to things, people, and opportunities that are not a priority for them is a powerful way to exert self-control.

TIP: Saying NO is a way you can honor your goals and priorities so you can find the time to successfully achieve them.

5. Pursue Peak Performance, Not Perfection

Smart leaders focus on developing peak performance by continually moving into their discomfort zone.

They know that they will never reach their full potential if they become complacent and comfortable, so their grasp is always a bit beyond their reach.

TIP: Researchers agree that the gap between your skill level and your peak performance should hover around 4%. Anything more will discourage you from trying harder; anything less will not push you hard enough to move forward.

6. Cultivate A Culture of Flexibility

Smart leaders have an agile mind so they adapt to changes in their environment.

They know that fear of change is paralyzing and a major roadblock to their happiness. They learn how to embrace changes by continually placing themselves in situations where they are uncomfortable and change can be expected. And then, when they are confronted with the unknown in business and life, they are better able to predict their response. 

TIP: Intentionally place yourself in situations where the outcome is not known. These situations will create new ways of thinking about obstacles and roadblocks that show up unexpectedly in your life. You will have the confidence to keep moving forward instead of reacting with fear and paralysis.

While success and happiness can be defined in many different ways, learn how to make these 6 habits your own. 

What habits have helped make you successful?

 

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

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

 

52 Tips cover smallS

How The Power Of Gratitude Can Lead You To Success

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Training as an FBI agent never stops—whether its firearms, physical fitness, or polishing investigative techniques. Sound exhausting? It is, and failure to perform can have serious impact on performance ratings and future success. 

The constant exercise of muscles, sharpening of thought patterns, and control of emotions that affect behavior were essential if we wanted to remain in peak shape as successful investigators.

Similarly, mental toughness is how you manage your thoughts, behavior, and emotions in ways that will set you up for success.

Whether you’re investigating the activities of a foreign spy, trying to navigate the politics of your work environment, or starting a new business—mental toughness requires keeping in shape to meet the challenges you will be facing.

While adding emotions as a component of mental toughness may seem at odds with the critical thinking that is required in the tough world of business today. But researchers are realizing that people who have little emotional intelligence are seriously disadvantaged in their overall well-being.

To ace life, you have to understand your emotions.

But this is the real secret: the key to lifelong success is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle—gratitude.

Here is how the power of gratitude can lead you to success:

 1. ATTRACT EVEN MORE GOOD THINGS IN YOUR LIFE

Gratitude can lead you to success because when you are grateful for all you have in life, your life will automatically attract more good into it. 

The Law of Attraction states: I attract whatever I give my focus, attention, or energy to. If your attitude is a cesspool of what’s wrong in your life, guess what? That is what you’re going to attract.

If, however, you make a conscious decision to appreciate and acknowledge all that you’ve been blessed with and you will continue to attract even more things to be grateful for through the law of attraction.

2. COUNTERACT YOUR STRESSORS

Gratitude can lead you to success because it is an antidote to stress and one of the best ways to counteract it. 

According to scientist Hans Seyle, being able to appreciate what is important to us is a valuable way of stepping back from the stresses we’re experiencing. When we do, we become more mentally tough because we are able to re-frame our thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances—The Bible, I Thessalonians 5:16

3. INCREASE YOUR HAPPINESS

Gratitude can lead you to success because research has shown the happiest people are those who take the time to appreciate the small things in life.

When we are grateful, we make time to stop and smell the roses. By spending the effort to appreciate the beauty around us, we are able to experience more feelings of well being and this produces happiness.

4. FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION ON WHAT IS IMPORTANT

Gratitude can lead you to success because it debunks the myth that we can multi-task and be more efficient.

Research has shown that the brain is incapable of multi-tasking. What really happens when we think we are multi-tasking is that are simply splitting our attention. We spin forward with the mistaken belief that getting more done will make us successful.

In truth, much of the quality of our life does not depend on getting more done; it comes from savoring those things we choose to pay attention to. Savoring is all about attention. Focus on the bad and you’ll feel bad. Focus on the good…and guess what?

5. HUNT THE GOOD STUFF

Gratitude can lead you to success because it forces you to look for the positive elements of your situation.

Researcher Martin Seligman is working with U.S. Military drill sergeants on how to increase mental toughness in their troops. Those participating are taught how to hunt the good stuff—to look for and appreciate the ways in which they are fortunate.

Gratitude is appreciating what you have, and giving thanks for the big and small blessings in your life. Basically, you see what you look for. You can train yourself to find the joy waiting out there, instead of passively waiting for it to come to you.

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven—Johannes A. Gaertner

© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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5 Great Pieces Of Advice About Success

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

FBI agents are expected to be successful investigators. When a child is kidnapped, success in finding the kidnapper is not a desired outcome; it is a requirement.

 

When facing distraught parents, you know deep down that you will do whatever it takes to bring that child home. Success is possible, but it takes mental toughness to sort through the hard facts about what it takes to succeed.

Here are five great pieces of advice to keep in mind about success:

1. SUCCESS REQUIRES AN ABUNDANCE OF WILLPOWER

For years we’ve been told that willpower is limited—it’s best saved for a sprint, not the race.

Psychologist Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, strongly disagrees. She believes that willpower is limited only if we believe it is. We put boundaries around ourselves when we believe willpower is limited.

But if we are mentally strong leaders who believe that if we work hard, we will be energized to work more, then we are creating willpower. 

As FBI agents working on child kidnappings and other crimes, we worked long hours in strenuous conditions and forged ahead to embrace even more challenging activities.

It turns out that willpower is in our head! 

2. SUCCESS COMES EASIER IF YOU MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE

We are significantly more productive when we’re feeling positive about our situation, even during tough times. 

One of the most important characteristics of mental toughness is the ability to find positive aspects in the middle of negative situations. Positive thinking does not give up or shut down when we’re hit with an unexpected roadblock. Just the opposite—positivity nudges our brain to seek out more possibilities. We’re smarter and more creative as a result.

Creative thinking was often the difference between success and failure in many of my FBI investigations.

Even pessimists can learn to be positive thinkers. 

For each negative thought you have, write down 5 positive ones to counter it. If you cannot find 5 positive thoughts, write down 5 things for which you are grateful. Do this for several weeks and you will see begin to see changes in your behavior: not only will you connect better with others, you will also manage your stress.

3. SUCCESS IS ABOUT FAILING AS MUCH AS WINNING

If we want to be successful, we must learn how to fail.

Another way to build mental toughness is saying “yes” to situations where you know there is a likelihood you will fail. FBI training continually put new agents in situations where failure was imminent. 

This may seem counterintuitive to anyone who strives to be successful—after all, why would you intentionally place yourself in a situation where you might make a mistake or fail? 

There are three reasons: 

  1. Success comes from stretching yourself toward peak performance. If you do not keep moving into your discomfort zone, you will stop growing. And when that happens, you surround yourself with mediocrity.
  2. Success requires that you analyze and critique your failures because you learn something about yourself that you did not know before. Strong minded leaders allow this knowledge to show them how to be successful next time around.
  3. Success hinges on choosing to put yourself in situations where you will fail or come up short so you’ll be aware of your reaction. This is incredibly important in today’s volatile work environment since your ability to predict your response to a disruption will allow you to land on your feet, rather than be caught off guard and simply react, and perhaps not in ways that help your leadership move forward.

4. SUCCESS IS THE PRODUCT OF HAPPINESS, NOT VICE VERSA

Most us believe just the opposite—that success will bring us happiness, but the reverse is actually true.

Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, says that if we work harder to achieve our goal, we think we’ll be happier. But research is clear that every time we experience success, our brain changes the definition of what success means. In essence, success will always be an elusive goal, so if we’re expecting happiness to be the result of our hard work, we’re most likely never going to get there!

Instead, increase levels of happiness in the midst of a challenge, and you will find that your success rate will increase as well. It’s important to remember that joy is a deeper emotion that is connected with well being, living a life of meaning, and living according to values.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones—Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)

5. SUCCESS REQUIRES A GOOD KICK IN THE BUTT EVERY SO OFTEN

It’s tempting for us to whine and complain when life doesn’t turn out the way we expected or planned. We feel life isn’t fair when we compare ourselves to others.

Here is the bitter pill for you to swallow: what you’re feeling has nothing to do with fairness; it’s all about entitlement.

You have total control over your attitude, so if something is wrong put that mental energy into making the situation better—unless you plan to whine about it forever.

Your words have power, especially over you. Don’t talk about what’s wrong. Talk about how you’ll make things better, even if that conversation is only with yourself. Positive self-talk is a cornerstone in training for Special Forces, FBI agents, and anyone who wants to be successful.

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me”—Erma Bombeck

© 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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What Grabs Your Attention Rules Your Life

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

My parents taught me to pay attention to my environment and be alert for rattlesnakes on our cattle ranch. They hid underneath sagebrush and cactus. My most prized Christmas present every year was a new pair of thick leather high top boots. They were tough enough to withstand a rattler’s sharp teeth if I should get bitten.

After many years of being alert of my surroundings, awareness of my immediate physical situation became a habit. Even after I had grown up and left the ranch. My ability to remain observant while in chaotic and quick moving circumstances was one of the primary reasons I became an FBI agent.

Habits don’t happen overnight. They are a repeated behavior that leaves us comfortable and safe. Therefore, we continue to choose more of the same experiences. When our attention is focused like this, our nervous system leaves us wanting more of the same.

For example: Whatever act of attitude gets your attention, the more frequently that act of attitude will manifest in your life. 

If you focus on anger, anger will show up. If you focus on looking for the positive in your situation, positivity will show up. And if you focus on finding a way to pursue your goal, determination will show up.

Pinpoint the focus, and put your attention on whatever you want to grow in life.

Start with Intention

Intention is a choice to act in a certain way. Without it, we spin and turn in all sorts of directions. Intention is an essential component of mental toughness. It is an ability that we can learn and strengthen over time to commit to a specific outcome. And regardless of distraction, to move forward. 

Intention is the key to transformation. Get serious about what is important in life and come up with a game plan to make it happen. Work on your intentions until they become perfectly clear.

Be intentional about:

  • Thoughts: Make corrections when you uncover thoughts that are not in alignment with your intention. “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is“~Proverbs 23:7a NKJV)
  • Words: Keep your conversations positive about the direction you’re moving. “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body”~Proverbs 16:24 NLT
  • Deeds: Ensure that everything you do moves you closer to your intention. “Even children know by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right”~Proverbs 20:11 NLT

Follow Up With Attention

We pay attention when we notice the importance of an act or person. 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 on 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.

Whatever we choose to focus our attention on will make it past the mind’s filtering system. The RAS alerts the cerebral, thinking brain of changes in the environment such as:

  • Physical needs: when we’re hungry, we pay attention to food
  • Choices: if we decide to buy a Volvo (a MUST see video by the way!), we see them everywhere
  • Names: we notice the names of those whom we love
  • Emotions: if something evokes an emotion in us, it has our attention
  • Contrast: we pay more attention to things that are in contrast to other things
  • Novelty: the brain notices things in our environment that are new experiences for us

Mental toughness keeps attention focused on those attitudes and behaviors that you intentionally identify as important to you in life.

These positive influences will help you to move forward, and not get distracted, when faced with an obstacle or adversity.

End On A Happy Note

If you start with positive intentions, you will notice the importance of things that will move you toward your goals. This includes people, events, and situations. The result produces fulfillment and happiness.

Intention→Attention→Results

This outcome shouldn’t surprise you.

Research shows that people who maintain a positive mindset are the happiest. They also perform better in the face of challenge. Shawn Achor call this the “happiness advantage.” Every business outcome shows improvement when the brain is positive.

Happiness is not about being oblivious to negative situations in our environment. It’s about developing the mental toughness to find ways to do something about them. Leverage positivity in leadership to move forward and find both meaning and happiness regardless of your circumstances. 

Positive thinkers seek out information that is actionable, interesting, and relevant. Leaders who create positive responses to their situations use words like opportunity and challenge together. 

Our thoughts, words, and deeds turn into habits of behavior. They can enrich our lives once we understand how to intentionally focus our attention on experiences we want to repeat. What grabs our attention rules our life.

What grabs your attention?

© 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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Want Happiness? Find A Path With Heart

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

As a new agent at the FBI Academy, happiness was not a priority. Our instructors took great delight in uncovering our weaknesses. Once discovered, their dry little hearts made it their mission to push us as far into our discomfort zones as possible.

I had trouble with push-ups. My coach made sure he was the one to count them for our interim FIT test. He started out counting each push up. Then we hit a magical number and he kept repeating, “Nine, nine, nine.” I did the ninth push-up nine times before he counted it!

All the while I’m thinking, “I don’t have any reserves left. I’ve wasted them all on the ninth push-up.” I finished that test missing the critical points I needed to graduate from the Academy.

This was one of the most important failures of my life because the consequences were tremendous: I would not become an FBI Agent.

Time and time again, I go back to this failure to explain my success in life. This failure was traumatic. I felt as though I had hit rock bottom and I was filled with desperation. It was at that moment, however, that I heard my calling. Happiness is not how I would describe how I felt about my situation. However, I knew that I had found a path that heart. That happiness in my heart is exactly what created the mental toughness I would need to succeed.

I could not be mentally tough if my heart could not find happiness in what I was doing. My calling was in the direction of the FBI. So I mustered the grit to keep at it until I passed the physical fitness test.

1. Happiness Is Finding A Path with Heart

If there is heart in your path, failure is nothing but another opportunity to try again. Mental toughness enables you to attack the same problem again and again until you succeed. Your tactics may need to change, and you may be required to re-route, but the destination will be the same.

If there is no heart in your path, failure will seem overwhelming. Failure will be enough to persuade you to try something new, and you will keep drifting until you finally succeed at something. Average people stop there—at success. And pretend, or hope, that their heart can be found there.

Failure can be a wonderful clarifying process. It can fortify your determination to succeed, or it can lead your mind to wander so it can consider another direction in life.

Once I realized my career as an FBI Agent was in jeopardy, my calling became crystal clear. I kept working at building up the strength so I could do enough push-ups to pass the test.

2. Distinguish Between Passion and Heart

Passion is an overused and overworked term. When someone starts talking about their passion, I break into a sweat. It usually means their obsession of the moment. It’s easy to be passionate when things are working out, and this is what makes passion so seductive. But when passion ebbs, it can evolve into frustration and annoyance.

Heart, on the other hand, is deeply embedded into the DNA of your being. It is who you are, stripped of all pretenses and baggage. If your failure is attached to a project that has heart, you will not be deterred by a few bumps on the road.

3. Align Goals with Your Calling

Failure may mean that you are misaligned with your calling. If you are aligned with your calling, you will keep moving through storms and cultivate a thick skin that sheds negativity like a raincoat. You may be discouraged, but never down and out.

I passed the final FIT test and became an FBI Agent. Even in the midst of all the worry and anxiety, there was a peace because at the center of my mental toughness was a path with heart.

© 2013 LaRaeQuy. 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.”

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