Posts Tagged ‘mental strength’

5 Rules To Sharpen Your Mental Toughness

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

After 9/11, hundreds of FBI agents were pulled from their assignments and reassigned to counterterrorism squads. Leadership was not concerned that these agents had no experience with terrorism cases, because they are taught in the FBI Academy to have mental toughness—the confidence to know that you will prevail in whatever situation you find yourself.

Competitive

In truth, everyone can benefit from mental toughness training—athletes, executives, and anyone in leadership positions.

Why?

We all need to find ways of turning negative thinking into positive behavior. Athletes can psych themselves out by seeing other athletes that are in better shape. Entrepreneurs and leaders can become overwhelmed by the competitive demands of the marketplace.

To be successful, we need to develop the mental skills to carry us beyond our current situation and create breakthroughs that take us into the winner’s circle.

Here are 5 rules to follow that will sharpen your mental toughness:

Rule #1 Develop Emotional Awareness

To be mentally tough, you need to have a deep understanding of what makes you tick so you can follow your calling and create a richer life.

Mental toughness is often associated with sports activities where athletes need to bulldoze their way through to the finish line. And yes, strong minds are needed to build strong bodies that are physically competitive.

But any top coach worth their salary will tell you that the will to win has to come from within. That requires athletes to have mental toughness so they can control their emotions, thoughts, and behavior in ways that will set them up for success.

Mental toughness is accepting our feelings without being controlled by them.

The Rule of Emotional Awareness states that we need to be acutely aware of our emotions, and the emotions of others, so we can follow our calling and create a richer life full of meaning and value.

Rule #2 Push Through Your Limits

Mentally tough people know that to reach their potential, they need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

World class experts fail a lot. They like to play at things that are too hard for them and accept challenges that are too big.

But this is key: In the process, they’re always getting valuable feedback.

You cannot be mentally tough if you cry like a baby because it’s scary when left in the dark. Guess what? Life frequently throws a wad of darkness into our midst—even when we aren’t expecting it or don’t want it!

We are confronted with the unknown everyday, and we choose to either navigate it with success or avoid it like a wimp.

Mental toughness requires us to push through the limits that we’ve imposed on ourselves, or have been imposed upon us by family, teachers, or society. We need to practice moving into our discomfort zone—frequently. Each time we fail we need to take the time to stop and analyze what we learned from the experience. With these experiences comes the confidence that we won’t break like a china doll in the process.

A message to all wimps: You cannot grow if you don’t move out of the center where it is safe and well-lit.

Instead, follow your calling and celebrate each time you break a new frontier. It is ironic that you must move to the edge to find your center.

The Rule of Push Limits states that becoming comfortable with new challenges and embracing things that are hard is key to building mental toughness.

Rule #3 Transform Your Mind

To be mentally tough, you need to keep a tight rein on your thoughts.

We become what we think.

We are impacted by our thoughts because neuroscience is proving that we can actually rewire our brain by changing the way we think.

Recent research in the field of neuroplasticity explains how new neural pathways and synapses can be created by changing our thoughts, emotions, and behavior. In other words, mental toughness is not something you were born with, it is something you can develop!

Neuroplasticity replaced the former opinion that the brain was a static organ that stops growing by the age of 25. Now we know the brain is capable of changing throughout our lifetime.

Norman Vincent Peale made the expression “The power of positive thinking” very popular several decades ago. Instinctively he knew, without the benefit of neuroscience, that if we change our attitudes we can empower ourselves to achieve the impossible.

The Rule of Transform Your Mind states that by changing the way you think about self-limiting beliefs and other obstacles in your life, you can rewire your brain in such a way that it is always working for you and not against you.

Rule #4 Focus Your Energy

If you want to be mentally tough, you must be able to focus your mental and physical energy.

When we focus, we are present to what is happening right now, not in the past or the future. It’s important to keep the mind and body completely engaged in the actual performance and NOT the outcome of the performance.

Olympic athletes are excellent examples of how to channel talent into success. They do not rely on luck to take home the gold medal. World class experts practice with laser focus with a specific goal in mind. But it’s not just repeating the same task over and over—it is deliberate practice, and that has certain features:

  • Break down each task into individual parts
  • Work on the hard stuff
  • Get feedback so you can get better
  • Put your ego on the back burner
  • Remain steadfast in your goals

The Rule of Focused Energy states that deliberate practice takes willpower, persistence, and training to achieve personal mastery.

Rule #5 Pursue Personal Growth

If you are seriously interested in sharpening your mental toughness, you need to read. Books. Articles. Blogs. I have never met a mentally strong person who was not a voracious reader.

The reason?

The mentally tough are learners who understand that the world is not made of up of winners or losers; instead, the world is made up of learners or non-learners. If you have mental toughness, you learn new skills and expand your horizons, study to become more intelligent, and find ways to make yourself more likable and attractive.

If we were born smart and talented, we don’t know to work hard because it all comes naturally to us. So when times get tough, we give up.

Mentally tough people are scrappy folks who know that just because you started out the smartest, it doesn’t mean you’re going to end up the smartest.

The Rule of Pursue Personal Growth states that we never stop learning, improving ourselves, and growing our mental strength.

Are there any other rules of mental toughness that you would add?

© 2015 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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7 Disadvantages You Need For Massive Success

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Growing up in a rural area, going to a small college, and moving into the fast-paced business world, I felt at a disadvantage on many levels. Little did I know that these same disadvantages would give me the scrappiness I’d need to succeed.

Adversity - shining through

It takes mental toughness to develop the healthy habits we need to overcome the disadvantages we face in life. I quickly learned that while surviving in my circumstances may be considered success; thriving in them is massive success.

Check out this list to see how how your disadvantages in life have prepared you for massive success:

 

1. NEVER ENOUGH MONEY

When you don’t have money, you are forced to use your imagination. Innovation becomes a way of life at a very early age—I discovered that sticks are excellent rifles and swords, and dried cow pies can be amazing frizbees. 

Buying what I wanted or needed was not an option for me as a kid, so creativity was the way I compensated. My early training to be creative and resourceful has served me well throughout life. 

Lesson Learned: If you want something, find a way to make it happen.

 

2. NO CODDLING BY PARENTS AND FAMILY

There were many times as a child when I felt very sorry for myself—I didn’t come from one of those warm and fuzzy families that coddled their offspring.

My grandmother had ammo on her Christmas list! There are three things you never say to a grandmother who is a crack shot with a shotgun: “You do it.” “It’s your fault.” “I quit.”

But in the process, I learned how to fend for myself. If I found myself in a tough situation, I had to rely on myself to get out of it. 

Lesson Learned: Take responsibility—stop whining, blaming others, and pointing fingers if you don’t get what you want.

 

3. THE CONSTANT REMINDER OF MISTAKES

I spent the better part of my early life as a hillbilly. I didn’t have the polish of a sophisticated upbringing and so I made a lot of mistakes, both social and professional. 

I learned from each one because I knew one thing: I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. It hurt too much the first time to not take the experience seriously and glean as much knowledge as I could from it.

As I look back and see the path I’ve traveled, I understand now that the past is nothing but training. It doesn’t define me. 

Lesson Learned: Mistakes are only stupid if you don’t take the time to learn from them. 

 

4. SURROUNDED BY LOSER FRIENDS

Since our cattle ranch was in a remote part of Wyoming, it was hard growing up without many friends. I was on a constant search to find other kids like me, but there just weren’t that many. At first, I wasn’t picky about with whom I chummed up but that was worse than having no friends at all.

I learned to be content with making friends and spending time with people who were very different from me. They stretched my thinking because they were so diverse.

We tend to spend time with people who are just like us, but when we do, we lack the feedback we need to force us out of our comfort zones and challenge us to question our beliefs.

Lesson Learned: Dump the loser friends and learn to be adept at picking the right strangers with ties to what you hope to accomplish and then ask them the right questions.

 

5. NEVER AN EASY WAY OUT 

I had to work really hard to get good grades—they didn’t come easy. As a result, I knew I would need to develop other traits if I wanted massive success. In excavating those talents and abilities, I learned to tolerate discomfort, frustration, anger, failure, and rejection. 

Mental toughness requires you to become acutely aware of all emotions so you can make the best choice about how to respond when the pop up. Mental strength is about accepting your feelings without being controlled by them.

Lesson Learned: Stop expecting a handout; instead, develop the right attitude to make your own breaks in life.

 

6. HARD-WON BREAKTHROUGHS

I took several wrong turns in life during my early years. Hoping for a breakthrough, I picked myself and started down another road, and I continued until I finally found the right path for me.

Our breakthroughs come from stress. We place a great deal of pressure on ourselves to see how much we can take and how well we respond. It’s a form of training for life—we practice over and over again until we have a breakthrough and become someone we had no idea we could become. 

Lesson Learned: All the magic happens outside the comfort zone.

 

7. A CONSTANT HUNT FOR THE GOOD STUFF

I spent several years trying to find the right job and the right relationship. During these gloomy times, I had to hunt to find the good stuff in my life. There wasn’t a lot, and yet I made a concerted effort to identify at least 3 positive experiences every day.

Catch your negative thoughts before they spiral out of control and influence your behavior. Replace your negative thoughts with productive ones and reflect on your progress daily.

Lesson Learned: Stop being a bore—instead, be grateful for your blessings.

Ironically, the disadvantages we’ve faced in the past were the ones that helped us develop the mental toughness we need to be a massive success.

© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question 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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Use Mental Strength To Raise Your Emotional Intelligence

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

As an FBI agent, I was trained to use emotional intelligence to size up a person with just a glance. But here is a secret—you can too, because humans have an amazing capacity to process complex information.

Emotional Intelligence - lots of happy faces

Our brain has an amazing ability to bring order out of chaos and place people, words, and behavior into patterns that make sense to sense to us. Below is a paragraph that raced across the Internet a few years back:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Brains have an attention filter that helps us find patterns in information so we know what to pay attention to and what we can safely ignore. In the caveman days, it helped us be alert to predators; in the information age, however, the amount of data that assaults our brain on a daily basis is staggering.

Studies suggest that we now receive five times as much information as we did in 1986. Every day the average person produces six newspapers worth of information compared with just two and a half pages 24 years ago—a 200% increase.

All of this information is competing for resources in your brain, whether it’s important data like medical information and financial updates, trivia updates on sports and hobbies, or emotions like anger and love.

As a leader, do not forget that your emotions originate in your brain alongside your intellect and thoughts. Since the processing ability of your conscious mind is limited, your brain’s attention filter plays a crucial role in seeking out emotional patterns that are important to you. This explains why it’s important for you to sharpen your emotional intelligence skills.

Here are 4 ways you can raise your emotional intelligence:

1. BEWARE OF ALWAYS LOOKING FOR THE BIG PICTURE IN LIFE

Our brain has the ability to focus on the “big picture” stuff in life which is great most of the time, but it can leave you missing important details. Emotional intelligence is being self-aware enough to excavate the significance of the small, but vitally important details of your own life.

When you’re asked about who you are, you probably provide details such date of birth, place of birth, address, employment, and social security number. Truth is, that is nothing more than a legal description. 

To answer from a place of self-awareness indicates you’ve done a lot more work—digging down and excavating the significance of your own stories and experiences to uncover the hidden jewels of your personality, and not being satisfied with statistics put down on a piece of paper.

2. MOVE ON FROM THOSE TIRESOME KNEE-JERK RESPONSES

Emotional intelligence provides us with the self-awareness to choose which responses we want to be stronger and more dominant.

As you become aware of your decisions, choices, and habits, you can identify the ones that produce the best results. Each time you act out of anger, you strengthen your mind’s anger response; the only way to stop this negative pattern of behavior is to recognize it as an emotion that does not produce the best results for you.

Similarly, if you act out of kindness you will strengthen your mind’s kindness response.

As you become more aware of which of your responses are triggering the better choices for you, you empower yourself. If you are not aware, negative responses will tend to perpetuate themselves and you’ll most likely find yourself repeating them—even though they are not productive.

3. LET GO OF THE CRAP THAT IS HOLDING YOU BACK

Let go of addictions, negative emotions, and fear-based behaviors. 

As you get to know yourself, you will learn how to replace them with actions that are based on principles, values, and strengths. This is the essence of an empowered leader with mental strength.

4. LET EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE EMPOWER YOU

Emotional intelligence will help you: 

  1. Live for a higher purpose – empowerment is wise and discerning.
  2. Nurture yourself and others – empowerment is compassion.
  3. Develop your skills and set an example for others – empowerment places value on people.
  4. Let go of the past and are renewed by your experiences – empowerment is forgiving and uses everything in life for growth and renewal.
  5. Observe yourself and others without judgment or expectations – empowerment is engaged with reality and the richness of the world
  6. Believe in yourself and trust in the goodness of life – empowerment is courage to deal with life under all circumstances.
  7. Celebrate your existence and share your happiness – empowerment is happy to add the richness of experience with everyone.

Emotional intelligence empowers leaders because it allows them to dig deep within themselves and lead from a place of mental strength and strong heart.

© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

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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How A Healthy Ego Can Help You Succeed

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

While we all wrestle with ego, I am someone who feeds on being acknowledged for my achievement and performance. As such, image has always been very important to me.

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Working FBI undercover assignments was a natural transition for me because my ego thrived on changing my image so I could pick and choose my special mask of success.

As with many things, moderation is important to ego. Too much can be detrimental to your success, and left unchecked it can spiral out of control and become self-centered. 

Successful leaders use mental strength to balance a healthy ego, and when they do it benefits their performance—just enough, at the right moments, to make a difference.

Here are four reasons successful leaders need a healthy ego:

1. IT DRIVES THEM TO SUCCEED

A healthy ego is essential to success because it will drive you to always be your best.

Psychiatrist Michael Maccoby provided an insightful analysis of people who are driven by ego and image in his book, The Gamesman. Here is an excerpt:

They are cooperative but competitive; detached and playful but compulsively driven to succeed. Their main goal is to be known as a winner and their deepest fear is to be labeled a loser.”

Does this describe you or someone you know?

2. THEIR INSPIRATION IS CONTAGIOUS

A healthy ego is essential to success because it leads you to truly believe that everything you do is important.

When it influences your emotions, behavior, and thinking, you will be incredibly enthusiastic about ideas that are important to you. Team members will walk away from a conversation with you saying, “Wow, this is exciting—what an opportunity!”

If one mark of leadership is the ability to generate enthusiasm about goals or ideas, then your ego can be incredibly helpful to you.

3. PERFORMANCE ALWAYS ROCKS

A healthy ego is essential for success because it motivates you to perform.

This means not only working hard yourself, but finding ways to genuinely motivate others around you.

The techniques that are commonly used are flattery, forming strategic alliances (my personal favorite), trading favors, and—manipulation. You may not feel comfortable owning up to using manipulation as a form of motivation, but let’s face it—influencing people to perform by pushing their buttons is effective leadership.

As we know, manipulation can be used in negative ways, but if we are pushing people toward a goal that will benefit them as well as you, your performance will rock.

4. IT’S NOT WHAT YOU DO, IT’S HOW YOU LOOK DOING IT

Image influences the way others perceive you. People have an image of what a successful FBI Agent should look like. Well-pressed suit, white shirt, athletic—and male. Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. 

As a female FBI agent, I quickly learned that a successful image was just as important for me as it was for my male counterparts. I realized it would impact my success.

Fair or not, perception is reality—this is why slick advertisements work so well. A healthy ego learns early that one of the most effective ways to impress others is by looking good while performing to get attention and acknowledgement. 

At a young age, I instinctively knew that image was about more than clothes. I learned to dress up my personality as well because I wanted to do whatever it took to succeed.

A healthy ego is essential to our success only if we use mental toughness to control, use, and apply it so that it benefits our performance as leaders.

 

© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

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 Negative Thoughts Are Holding You Back

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

When you grow up poor, negative thoughts come very easily. My parents were hard working cattle ranchers in a remote area of Wyoming. There was no money to pay a hired hand, so my brother and I started helping out with chores at the age of 6.

Adversity - give up!

By the age of 8, I could stack bales of hay, grease the baler, and move a hundred head of cows into another pasture.

As a girl, I was expected to marry and start a family, not pursue a career. The standing joke was that college was for young women looking for an MRS degree. After all, higher education was not needed to work on a ranch.

Indeed, no one else in my family had attended college and aspirations ran no further than finding a steady job that could support a family in rural Wyoming. Many of my relatives failed to even graduate from high school.

I grew up hearing these self-limiting messages that looked at life in negative terms of what I couldn’t do rather than in positive terms of what I could accomplish.

There were times when the negativity of others threatened to sabotage my own efforts to move beyond my circumstances.

I had the support of my parents to pursue a college degree, and I learned many lessons from them, not the least of which is that there are no guarantees in life, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.

Here are 4 ways negative thoughts can hold you back from living the life you want:

1. YOU WERE TOLD BY PEOPLE WITH AUTHORITY THAT YOU CAN ONLY GO SO FAR

Negative thoughts holding you back often find their origins in childhood when adults and other authority figures tell you that you will never become what you aspire to be—a teacher, doctor, or engineer. The implication is clear: you do not have the mental strength to move out of your circumstances.

For me, those circumstances had deep roots in poverty, tradition, and a culture that distrusted anything different or unfamiliar

Even though my parents supported my decision to go to college, other people in my community wondered if I thought I was “too good” to stick it out where I’d been born and raised. 

It’s tempting to give up and not try for anything beyond the predictions and admonitions of others. While many of these people are well-intentioned, they feed negative, limiting, and inaccurate narratives about what it possible once you put your mind to it.

2. YOU DO NOT WANT TO MOVE OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Negative thoughts holding you back are trying to keep you in a box, labeling you with an identity that is not necessarily the one you want.

I had a voice playing inside my head that warned me of hidden dangers if I moved beyond what was comfortable and safe. Have you ever heard the same voice?

It’s telling you that it’s OK to never ask for that promotion because you’ll just end up humiliated and disappointed—so why bother?

Listening to this voice may feel comfortable at first, but if we capitulate to it’s dire warnings and avoid going after what is really important to us, we face another voice—the one that tells us we’re a loser, no one loves us, and that we have no worth.

3. YOU STILL ACT AND THINK AS YOU DID AS A CHILD

Negative thoughts holding you back find strength in rules established in your past.

All of the self-limiting beliefs I had about myself were formed when I was a child. As I moved toward adulthood, they became stumbling blocks. “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” (I Cor. 13:11 NLT)

But putting away beliefs that form the way in which we see ourselves is not easy. 

The defenses we formed as a way to protect ourselves as children often remain in place long after circumstances have changed. Those defenses turn into rules for behavior that we make for ourselves. Often, they are negative thoughts about what we shouldn’t, can’t, or won’t do in life.

Being quiet in our household may have kept us from getting yelled at as a kid, but acting timid as an adult can prevent us from getting to know people at a deeper level.

4. YOU ARE PARALYZED BY FEAR

Negative thoughts holding you back are always based in fear. 

Fear held me back from exploring a better life for myself—fear of the unknown, failure, or rejection. I have learned that I’m much more resilient than I ever gave myself credit for being.

When I left the comfortable world of my childhood, I identified the obstacles I would likely face as I struck out on my own, made plans on how to overcome them, drew up Plan B in case I needed a back-up strategy, and reminded myself of how I had faced bigger obstacles at home like striking rattle snakes and charging bulls.

Negative thoughts still rear their ugly head, but I have learned how to not let them hold me back in life.

How have you gotten rid of negative thoughts that threatened to hold you back?

© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

 

You can follow me on Twitter

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.” 52 Tips cover small

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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.

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Tiger - tiger catching fish

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.

 

You can follow me on Twitter

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

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

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

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I was stuck. I had hit a plateau.

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

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

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

Here are 5 steps to keep you moving:

STEP ONE: TAKE RISKS

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

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

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

STEP TWO: EMBRACE THE SUCK FACTOR

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

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

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

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

Never let a good crisis go to waste—Winston Churchill

STEP THREE: USE A SCRIPT

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

Their preparation gives them both poise and confidence.

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

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

STEP FOUR: VISUALIZE YOUR SUCCESS

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

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

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

STEP FIVE: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH OTHERS WHO ARE GOING THROUGH THE SAME THING

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

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

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

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

How do you keep moving toward success?

© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

 

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

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