Posts Tagged ‘Success |’

Take A Risk —The Odds Might Be Better Than You Think

Monday, August 20th, 2018

As I look back over my early career, I wish I’d taken more risks. I wish I’d been a little braver in my choices, perhaps had more confidence in my ability to land on my feet when confronted with the unknown.

If you’ve thought the same thing, you’re not alone. You don’t take a risk because you’re cautious and play it safe. In other words, you’ve settled for the status quo. 

If that sounds like the definition of a wimp, you might be right. To be fair, however, our brains are wired to be risk averse. Our aversion to risk kept us safe through the cave man years and probably saved our life a couple of times through our college years. What we forget, however, is that not every challenge is a risk to our life.

A History Lesson

The Old Testament of the Bible tells the story of a young man who decided to take a risk. His name was David, and he was a sheepherder who led a very predictable and ordinary life. He might never have discovered his greatness if he hadn’t taken a risk and stepped into the unknown.

The Philistine army had gathered their troops for war against Israel. The two armies camped on opposite sides of a steep valley.  Every day for forty days a Philistine warrior named Goliath broke out from the front line and challenged the Israelites to fight. Goliath was reported to be a giant of a man who wore full armor. The Israelites fell back in fear when they saw the huge form of Goliath. The odds were against them.

Described as a runt by his own father, David’s job was to run back and forth from his sheep herd to bring news to his father of his brothers who were on the Israelite battle line. As David approached the battle line, he asked, “What’s in it for the man who kills the big ugly Philistine?”

He learned that King Saul offered a huge financial reward. In addition, he would give his daughter in marriage to whoever killed Goliath. David decided to take a risk and beat the odds. He said, “I’m your man!”

The runt of the litter takes on the giant. We love stories about the underdog who musters the courage and confidence to find a way to beat the odds. Follow David’s example and take a risk—the odds might be better than you think:

1. Master A Skill Set

David took a risk because he had never fought in battle as a soldier. He had other experiences, however, and leaned into them to help him in this situation. David knew how to use a sling and perfectly weighted stones which he had used to protect lambs from large and strong predators like lions and bears. He was prepared to use those same skills to protect the Israelites. It took years of practice, but he never became distracted from learning the skills he needed to become a master of his trade.

From an outsider’s point of view, the skill set possessed by this young boy could not help him defeat the obstacle before him. David stuck with what he knew best and used those skills to help him beat the odds.

How To Make It Work For You: Mastery is not a function of genius or talent. It is a function of intense focus applied to your area of expertise. Identify your area of expertise. Just because someone else doesn’t believe your skill set is needed to overcome an obstacle, it doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to apply those skills to help you beat the odds.

2. Acknowledge Weaknesses

The soldiers laughed at David because he wasn’t a trained soldier. The first thing they tried to do was turn David into one of them. They suited him up in their armor and gave him a sword. But David wasn’t a soldier, had never trained as one, and never wanted to be one. He said, “I can’t fight in this because I’m not used to it.” The techniques of a soldier were not his own, and he was wise enough to acknowledge what he didn’t know so he could focus on what he did.

Many of us focus all our attention on what could go wrong, and that’s not a bad thing. However, if we fail to focus on what can go right, we miss the opportunity to improve our odds. When we look at what we can bring to the situation, we take a risk that is smarter because we’ve put our strong foot forward.

How To Make It Work For You: You will excel only if you maximize your strengths and stop trying to fix your weaknesses. Don’t ignore your weaknesses but acknowledge them so you are better able to manage them. This allows you to free up time and focus on developing your strengths.

3. Start With Small Wins

David met Goliath on the battlefield with a sling and five smooth, carefully selected stones because those were the tools of his trade. He knew those stones had power because he’d used them before—to kill lions and bears. David might not have been a soldier, but he knew a thing or two about a strong arm and good aim.

While he hadn’t stood before an obstacle this big before, this was not the first time he’d dealt with a problem. He started with small wins as he protected his sheep from predators. Those small wins gave him the confidence to take a risk and defeat Goliath.

How To Make It Work For You: If you need to take a risk, you create better odds for yourself if you experiment beforehand. Intentionally place yourself in situations where there is risk involved so you know how it feels and won’t panic out of the gate. Experiment with how you’ll respond rather than rely on a knee-jerk reaction.

4. Adapt To Your Circumstances

While others considered David an underdog, he understood how to adapt to his circumstances. It meant he would need to take a risk, but since he had defeated other enemies, all he needed to do was remind himself of his past wins. David had mental toughness. One aspect of mental toughness is the belief that you can adapt to your circumstances rather than believing your circumstances will change.

If we don’t have confidence in ourselves, we will underestimate our ability to handle risk. When this happens, confidence devolves into self-doubt and the downward spiral doesn’t end until we reach the bottom. If we’re confident, we know that we’re able to accomplish the things we set out to do. 

How To Make It Work For You: If you’re confronted with a roadblock, adapt to your new circumstances. Re-evaluate your initial strategies. Keep your mindset flexible and agile as you look for new ways to move ahead. The key is to always move ahead.

5. Press Into The Unknown

According to the Biblical account, “David took off from the front line, running toward the Philistine.” David took leadership of the situation when he broke the pattern of the challenge. He moved toward the threat and pressed into the unknown.

The closer Goliath came, Davis found more ways to defeat the giant. He saw a small gap in Goliath’s armor that was not visible from a distance. David reached into his bag and slung one of his stones at the gap in the helmet that protected Goliath’s head. Once struck on the forehead, the giant fell down on the ground. When the Philistine’s saw their hero was dead, they turned and ran.

How To Make It Work For You: To increase safety, move toward the unknown—only when David moved closer to the threat was he able to see where and how to strike. Often, opportunities that can not be seen from a distance are made visible only when we press forward. Our chances of success increase when we leave our place of safety and move toward our challenge.

© 2018 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

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.”

5 Reasons Why Bold Leaders Are Remarkably Successful

Monday, August 6th, 2018

There are two reasons people separate themselves from the crowd: they are either bold leaders or timid followers. The rest of the herd sticks together.

Bold leaders move toward obstacles and do not let hesitation or doubt impede their progress. Timid followers lurk behind because they are afraid of obstacles and look for ways to avoid them.

As a counterintelligence agent, I looked for both personalities in the targets I attempted to recruit to work for the U.S. government. The blue-flamer often rushed ahead; they could be a good target if they failed to use good judgment. The slackers represented the other end of the spectrum; they were timid souls who always looked for the easy way out. Often, that meant cooperating with the FBI.

Why is bold leadership important? There is a saying in the FBI: no arrest goes according to plan. Agents know better than anyone that circumstances can change without warning. It’s essential that a leader be bold enough to adapt and make effective decisions under pressure.

A leader’s success, in any environment, is based on their ability to manage the risk that presents itself. Simply stated, bold leaders understand how to exploit and mitigate risk; this is why they are more successful.

Bold leaders are not pushy, loud, or bossy. They do voice their opinion, take charge, and energize the rest of the team.

Let’s take a closer look at the 5 reasons why bold leaders are remarkably successful:

1. They Hide Their Weaknesses

Everyone has weaknesses so it’s stupid and counterproductive to not acknowledge them, at least to yourself. It’s also to your advantage to become equally aware of your strengths. An awareness of your strengths and weaknesses allows you the opportunity to approach a volatile situation with a strategy that places your best foot forward.

When you appear as a bold leader, your weaknesses are hidden behind the actions of someone who is confident of their strengths and is making use of them.

How To Make It Work For You:

  • Uncover your weaknesses so you can learn how to manage them.
  • Don’t spend a great amount of time trying to turn them into strengths because it will never happen.
  • Instead, put your time and effort into your strengths so you can continue to build them up.
  • Reassess yourself on a regular basis so you are not surprised when a weakness rears its ugly head.

2. They Know Perception Is Reality

As a kid who grew up on a remote cattle ranch in the middle of Wyoming, I watched as predators snuck up on the hesitant prey. I learned early in life that once you hesitate, you show yourself as weak and expendable.

They way people perceive us, by our actions and the words we use, will guide the way they treat us. If we present ourselves as victims, guess what? That’s how we’ll be treated! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out: if you indicate a lack of confidence in yourself, it will bring out the tiger in your competition.

How To Make It Work For You:

  • Remember that a bold leader is not someone who is cocky and aggressive.
  • Work on building up your strengths now. When you have confidence in your abilities, there will be no need to go on the defensive when you’re confronted with an obstacle or challenge.
  • Present yourself as a bold leader who is thorough, confident, and authoritative.

3. They Appreciate Stealth

Authors have described the recruitment of foreign spies as an act of seduction. More often, it is the stealth of a snake that has circled his prey long enough to know when to strike.

In the same way, bold leaders learn a great deal when they sit in silence during negotiations and listen to others. They make no sudden move to intimidate or alarm the challenge that sits before them. All the while, however, their mind works to identify the best way to disarm the opposition and sway the negotiation toward a more favorable outcome.

Bold leaders do not make rash decisions. They maximize their chances of success and investigate the challenge before they make a decision.

How To Make It Work For You:

  • Stealth is an art form because it takes its adversary by surprise.
  • Recognize that the loudest voice is not always the smartest one.
  • Conduct due diligence and strike when you’ve gathered enough information to make an effective and successful decision.

4. They Create An Environment Of Continual Improvement

Continual improvement demands that bold leaders feel comfortable holding the tension between failure and risk. They learn how to use risk to their advantage, and at the same time, mitigate catastrophic risk so they can protect their team.

No one is comfortable with failure, but it is the flip side of success. They are two sides of the same coin. Bold leaders do not back away from failure. Instead, they learn from each iteration and apply it to the next challenge.

Continual improvement and innovation challenge existing practices. They also produce energy and adrenaline. They allow each team member to think in fresh ways about ways to accomplish a goal. Bold leaders are not afraid to reward a team’s insightful experiment even if it is a failure. This will help you create partnerships within your team to help them learn and reboot from their failure.

How To Make It Work For You:

  • Distinguish between the areas where risk is encouraged and the areas where it is not.
  • Use words like experiment and exploring to describe a project instead of successful or unsuccessful.
  • Keep risks small so they are fast and nimble.
  • Fund each clearly defined phase of the project so everyone knows the budget.

5. They Balance Risk-Taking

Bold leaders seldom act in extremes; they are not risk-adverse, nor are they careless. They strike a balance between the two. They don’t sit around and wait for the perfect opportunity before they step in because it is seldom that an opportunity has no risk. Instead, they make the most out of their circumstances. They have mental toughness—they believe they will prevail in their circumstances rather than expect their circumstances to change.

Successful people tend to look for the small wins in every situation. The power of positivity leads to consistent small wins. Each small win spells success. Success not only attracts others, it provides momentum.

How To Make It Work For You:

  • Start with a small battle you think you can win.
  • Assess the situation and understand the problem.
  • Communicate your goals to your team.
  • Map out a strategy.
  • Develop a process to gather accurate information in a timely manner.

© 2018 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 Success Will Not Make You A Happy Person

Monday, July 30th, 2018

As a kid growing up on a remote cattle ranch in Wyoming, it didn’t take much to make me a happy person. I loved to spend time with our animals—horses, cattle, and dogs! I was happy to do my chores and bond with my pets.

In high school, it took something different to make me a happy person. Happiness now depended on the number of people I could count as friends. Lots of friends meant I was looked upon as a success and had become popular.

Out of college, my definition of success changed again. Success was determined by the size of my paycheck and my status in the organization. Friends took on a new role and were now measured in terms of how much value they added to my network.

In my pursuit of a successful career, happiness got watered down to the itemization of things. It was now something external to be bought—like a car. Or, given—like a promotion.

As entrepreneurs and business owners, your success is calibrated as return on investment by your investors and clients. Your pathetic feelings of happiness are none of their concern.

Which is fine, for a while. But if your life fundamentally sucks, it’s going to continue to suck no matter how successful you are. Here are 5 reasons success will not make you a happy person—and how you can change your mindset:

1. It Takes More Than Money To Motivate You To Do Good Work

Businesses commonly use money as a motivator, and it works—to some extent. Studies show that once an individual receives the money, however, it loses its power to motivate.

While money is important, we all want and need more than a good salary. In his book, Payoff, behavioral economist Dan Ariely argues that human motivation is very complex. He states that to motivate ourselves and others successfully, we need to provide a sense of connection and meaning. It’s important to remember, however, that meaning is not always synonymous with personal happiness.

Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose—Viktor E. Frankl

How To Make It Work For You: These are some of the things that you, as a leader, can do to harness the power of intrinsic motivation in your people. An intrinsic motive is the desire to do a good job for the sake of doing a good job:

  • Recognize people as contributing members of a winning team.
  • Remind them that the project is succeeding.
  • Pinpoint where their contributions are making a difference.
  • Celebrate successes.
  • Thank people. Often.

2. If You Lose Sight Of Your Values, Your Life Will Suck

I recruited foreign spies to work for the U.S. Government. To be successful, I exploited their lack of self-awareness. The most vulnerable person was the one too lazy to go deep and prioritize their values. They lived in a shallow world and preferred to blame others rather than acknowledge how their poor values made their life suck. 

Our values are defined by what we are willing to struggle to accomplish. If something holds value for us, we will endure the pain and struggle to make it happen.

Your values define your struggles. If you want better problems, get better values—LaRae Quy.

Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get–Dale Carnegie

How To Make It Work For You: Identify the values you prioritize above everything else; those values are the ones that influence your decision-making process. Pinpoint the good values that tap into your inner core. They are the ones that will engage you with the world as it is, not how you wish it would be in the future. Bad values rely on external circumstances. You blame others if things don’t turn out the way you planned.

3. Success Is Where People Stop On Their Way To Happiness

Most of us fail over and over at something until we finally get it right. But what we forget is that those failures are the most important lessons in life. Most of us do not embrace our future failures, so we stop at where we find success because we’ve been conditioned to avoid suffering, pain, and discomfort.

We stop at success, regardless of whether that success has led us to something that provides value and meaning for us. We have it backward: instead of looking for success to make us happy, we will be successful where we find our happiness.

When you look for happiness, you need to change how you measure success and failure. Some of the best things that happen to us require effort, pain, and failure. Ask any parent, small business owner, or marathon runner.

One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful—Sigmund Freud

How To Make It Work For You: Be smart about how you work harder and longer hours to be successful. Discover what brings you happiness and focus your energy on those pursuits. Then the longer hours and hard work won’t matter because you’ll love what you do.

4. The Easy Path Does Not Create Strong People

All of this “be happy” shit is creating a generation who don’t understand how to overcome problems. They think an easy path is the yellow brick road to happiness.

But it is in our choices that we either decide to grow, or not, because it is in those choices that we learn to focus. When we do, we become mentally tough so that we can manage our emotions, thoughts, and behavior in ways that will set us up for happiness. We get to choose what matters to us based on our values.

How To Make It Work For You: Embrace what you have learned in hard times. Some people are stuck with worse problems than others and many people have overcome horrible circumstances. This was their mindset: no matter where I am in life, or my struggle, I still have the power to take responsibility and chose my next step.

5. Making Progress Is Better Than Being Successful

Most of us have worked hard to achieve a goal, only to find emptiness when we reach it. Psychologists explain this is because true happiness is less about when we reach a goal and more about how we reached it. What is most important is the progress we have made in an area of our life.

If we focus on success instead of progress, we become nothing more than a manager of our circumstances. If, however, we focus on making progress in all areas of our life, we empower ourselves to become the person we truly want to be—a person who is fulfilled and happy.

Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure—Tony Robbins

How To Make It Work For You: Never forget that if you’re not happy with the direction your life has taken so far, you have complete control over who you can become.

  • Identify an opportunity that you know is worthwhile but that you’ve been afraid to pursue, and go for it anyway.
  • Brainstorm a list of 20 new ideas on ways to improve your life.
  • Describe something that you will make you very happy. Be specific.
  • Write down your definition of success.
  • Make a list of causes you are passionate about and then get involved.
  • Identify something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done yet.

© 2018 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.” 

 

Here Is What Happens When You Use Emotional Intelligence To Be Successful

Monday, July 23rd, 2018

Few could accuse FBI agents of being soft and fluffy, and yet emotional intelligence is at the heart of most successful FBI investigations. 

The ability to recognize, control, and express emotions was often the single factor that led to my success as I recruited foreign intelligence officers to work for the U.S. government. I remained alert for how people reacted to different topics of conversation so I could gain insight into how their emotions and thoughts drove their behavior.

While the FBI constantly trains agents on how to do their job better, I learned about the importance of emotional intelligence by observing squad mates who failed to demonstrate it. They were the ones who could not break through barriers and develop rapport with people. Not only that, they often had a particular lack of self-awareness so they were unaware of what they were doing wrong—a wreck waiting to happen to anyone, not just those in law enforcement.

How Important Is Emotional Intelligence?

Research points to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. The connection is so strong that 90% of top performers have high emotional intelligence. On the flip side, just 20% of bottom performers are high in emotional intelligence. You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but the chances are slim.

This same study found that people with a high degree of emotional intelligence also make more money. This finding holds true for people in all industries, at all levels, in every region of the world.

Emotional intelligence affects how we manage our behavior, handle social complications, and make effective decisions that will achieve positive results. Awareness and curiosity about our own emotions, as well as those of others, places us in a stronger position to not only recognize the negative ones but to anticipate how they could spin out of control.

The way in which we react to obstacles, misfortune, and adversity is often the result of habit rather than deliberate choice. With a little training and awareness, we can develop the emotional intelligence we need to make smarter choices and be more successful.

Here are 6 ways you can use emotional intelligence to be successful:

1. Engage In Psychological Fortune Telling

Our preoccupation with being happy all the time can actually lead us to expect too much from everyday experiences.

Psychologist Maya Tamir recommends that instead of making the pursuit of happiness your guiding principle in stressful situations, you should think about your long-term goal first. Once you’ve clearly identified your long term goal, you can choose the emotion you want to experience in that situation. 

For example, leaders who are under pressure to make a compromise can use emotional intelligence to opt for the emotion or feeling that will help them be more successful.

TIP: Successful people with high emotional intelligence do not always choose the pleasant emotion; instead, they opt for the one that will move them down the road and toward their long-term goals. When you are faced with making a decision, don’t shy away from the one that won’t feel the easiest. Instead, make sure it’s the one that will lead you toward your long-term goal.

2. Early Intervention Is Key

Sometimes we’re thrown into situations where there is no exit strategy. If we can anticipate a negative situation, we can take pro-active measures. We’re better off if we can nip the monster in the bud before it overtakes us.

Emotionally intelligent people study their triggers and use this knowledge to sidestep situations and people before they get the best of them. There is always someone with an irksome laugh or annoying habit to deal with, so develop buffers if you know you’re going to be in their company. Situations that trigger negative emotions often leave people feeling depressed, especially when you know they could have been averted. 

Many events that produce stress and negative emotions are uncontrollable, such as accidents or illnesses. Many of them, however, can be managed if you are savvy about how to anticipate them and intervene.

TIP: Identify and address a potential source of stress that you know will arise in the next few days. Develop an exit strategy now so you’re not stuck with an emotional fallout later.

3. Avoidance Is Not An Option

However, it’s not always possible to run from a negative situation. Given a choice, most of us would choose to avoid recurring situations that evoke unpleasant or sad feelings. When we are forced to deal with people or situations that we know will bleed out negative emotions, it’s exhausting. It’s no wonder we seek distractions or look away with relief.

We all have emotional triggers—situations and people that push our buttons and cause us to act in ways that can sabotage our success. But studies have shown that those who anticipate a negative situation often respond in ways that are constructive. They develop the grit to pierce through the negativity.

The reason is this: when the situation is recurring, you bolster your brain’s ability to observe and detach from inner reactions so you can strengthen emotional management which acts as a buffer between yourself and the negative situation or person.

TIP: Identify those situations in your life where avoidance is not an option. Grit-up and punch through the negativity of the situation so you can find ways to manage your emotional reactions.

4. Reframe Your Emotion

Often, we can manage our emotions if we simply reframe them. Anger and fear are both freighted with energy; so, rather than express them in a negative way, channel them into a more positive one. Is it a lump of coal, or is it a diamond in the making?

For example, if you are afraid of public speaking, reframe that nervous energy as “getting pumped” for the next performance.

It takes skill to manage your emotions; you learn it better when you practice it over time. The same goes for the way you reframe your situation. It takes intentional training. Often, we let the energy from our emotions decide how we react. We do not intentionally cultivate the emotions that will serve us best.

TIP: Research in neuroplasticity has shown us that we can literally re-wire our brain by changing the way we think about negative situations. If we can take responsibility for own brain, then we can also take responsibility for our own emotions.

5. Let It All Hang Out

But what if someone insults you? You cannot avoid feeling hurt no matter how hard you try to control your response. There are times when we need to express our emotions because if we hold them back, it takes an even worse toll.

Psychologist Roy F. Baumeister conducted a series of experiments where people who suppressed their emotions, both happy and sad. He found they tended to give up sooner on projects. When they resisted their natural emotional responses, it taxed their willpower and energy.

Maya Tamir found that if we are able to accept and even welcome the emotions that we have, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, we are likely to be happier and more satisfied.

TIP: Do not suppress your negative emotions all the time. Research has found that people who do so have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Suppressing all negative emotions can also lead to more broken relationships, chronic pain, tinnitus, and diabetes.

6. Get Clued In

Among the first steps in any FBI investigation is to put the subject under surveillance. There are many reasons for this, but one of them is to identify their patterns of behavior.  In other words, agents need to be clued in to the thoughts, emotions, and behavior of the subject under investigation.

Often our success is the result of our ability to pick apart and analyze what makes people tick. It becomes a mindset and it is something that can be practiced by anyone at anytime.

Law enforcement officers often look at people around them in restaurants and airports and attempt to figure out their stories—such as what they do for a living, their mood, what they’re thinking—based solely on observation. This simple focused-awareness drill can train a person’s mind to be clued in on what is going on with the people around them. Getting clued in means you move your awareness level up a notch or two.

Learn more about yourself, as well. Ask yourself, “What preoccupies my thinking?” “When am I most comfortable with myself?” “What do I notice first in others?”

TIP: Get curious! Curiosity is an important trait for geniuses, FBI agents, and anyone who wants to be emotionally intelligent. Curious people have active minds that are always asking questions and searching for answers.

© 2018 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.” 

The Truth About 3 Great Career Tips That You’ll Never Hear

Monday, July 9th, 2018

The career advice we receive changes as we age. As children, we’re encouraged to dream big about the things we want to accomplish in life. We grow up and assume we’ll do what we love.

As we become adults, the message starts to focus on how we can be successful. We begin to look at the subjects in which we excel in school. Grades become the measuring stick of our future.

Most of all, we’re told to be practical, find a good job, and stay there.

Those messages muddle our thinking when we seek out career advice. We look for ways to be successful rather than pursue the things we love. Too often, success is where we stop on our journey to what we truly want to do in life.

It takes mental toughness to say, “I want to create my own path” because it may not be where you found success. You may need to move out of your comfort zone to escape the mediocrity that has been aided and abetted by your career choices.

Success and self-awareness can happen at the same time, but they are not the same thing. If our quest for success is not in alignment with what matters most to us, we’ll be left empty and disappointed in the end.

Success is a competitive game. It triggers a breathless sprint to be the happiest, the richest, the sexiest, the most admired—you get the picture. This is the feedback loop from hell because today’s success story is always replaced by tomorrow’s newer, better thing.

The Stoics would say that being a good person, doing what matters most to you, and doing the right thing are the important things in life. It’s OK if you don’t find the cure for cancer or write the great American novel. What is important is choosing what matters most to you in life. And, what does not matter.

As successful leaders, entrepreneurs, and business owners, you’ve treated your career as a business. A business becomes prosperous when it has a clear vision for itself in the marketplace. Goals come later, after the vision is defined.

The same goes for you. In the absence of a vision for your life, goals are nothing more than a long to-do list.

Here is the truth about 3 great career tips that you will never hear—they are simple, but very important, if you want a career built around what is meaningful to you:

1. Answer The Right Question

This is a clarifying exercise I did while in seminary. We turned to the person next to us and asked, “What do you want?” We asked the question and waited for the answer. Then we asked it again and again—fifteen times. At first the answers were predictable: “I want a new car, I want a bigger house, I want to make more money, etc.”

After the mind is cleared of the superfluous stuff, deeper issues start to come out. “I want to be loved, I want to serve God, I want to help people tap into their inner strength.”

TIP:

The key is asking the same question fifteen times to dig beneath the surface to uncover what matters most to you. Everyone’s answers will be different, and the person to whom you are talking doesn’t even need to be a friend, but it does need to be someone you trust.

2. Remember the Crossroads

We have all been forced to make choices. Many of them had little impact on the direction of our life. Some, however, were big ones—crossroads choices—that moved us in a new direction. For example: in my second year at college I had to choose my major. My heart told me to pursue a degree in history, but my head told me that a degree in business management would be more marketable.

After I retired from the FBI, I knew I wanted to go back to school. I found myself revisiting the same question; again, I decided not to pursue the history degree and enrolled at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Any doubt I had about whether history would ever be more than a hobby was now firmly decided—it would not.

TIP:

  • Concentrate on one period of your life at a time
  • Go back to a particular period in your life and identify a crossroad event
  • Write up three paragraphs describing the crossroad event as best you can
  • Focus on the key factors that influenced your decision
  • Would those same factors influence your decision today?

3. Embrace Your History

Do not fear the future; instead, read the past.

Don’t live in the past, but it’s a great place to visit. Looking back, for most people, is usually a mixed bag. There are bright moments, but there are also shadows. To truly understand ourselves, however, we need to delve into both the light and the shadow.

Life is hard. Pain is inevitable. Growth is optional.

It does no good to make excuses or blame others for your situation. Successful people do not see themselves as a victim—ever! Instead, they recognize that their situation may not be perfect right now but they also know they have the power to change it.

One of the most important tools an investigator uses is surveillance. It allows agents to gain an understanding of the target’s habits, routines, and contacts.

TIP:

Place yourself under surveillance. Go back in your history and identify an inflection point—actions, people, ideas, or events that moved your life in a new direction.

How did you change during that period? How did it contribute to what you are today? To assist with this, recall the following:

  • Key people
  • Activities that demanded time and attention
  • Important ideas
  • The nature of your inner life: dreams for your life, longings, and emotions
  • The nature of your health: exercise, sports, and illness
  • Creative impulses that shaped you
  • External events that shaped you

Summary

If you don’t grow, everything becomes a repetition of the past. As leader of your life, decide which behaviors served you well enough that you want to repeat. Conversely, identify the behaviors and reactions that you don’t want to repeat so you can let go of what doesn’t work for you.

© 2018 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

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.”

Why Mental Toughness Gives You A Competitive Advantage

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

The biggest challenge I had in graduating from the FBI Academy was meeting the physical fitness standards. I was a slow runner and found pushups very difficult. I did not have a competitive advantage. As a result, I failed the interim FIT test and was almost washed out of the Academy.

Instructors and coaches at the FBI Academy expressed concern that I was not athletic enough to become an agent. My first response was, “How is running 2 miles in 10 minutes going to help me be a better investigator?”

This was my reasoning was this: Agents don’t use their physical muscles to puzzle their way through the facts of an investigation. Instead, they use their mental skills. Only later was I able to recognize that brawn would not make me a better agent. My athletic training, however, had created a set of mental skills to give me a competitive advantage that I would utilize throughout my 24 year FBI career.

Research and common sense tell us that top athletes have a competitive advantage because of their physical talents and dedication to training. However, they also succeed because of their ability to deal with the psychological pressures of their sport. Mental toughness is extremely important for any athlete aiming to be the best.

The real question of coaching in sports is this: Are you mentally tough enough to compete?

There was a recent study of athletes who successfully completed sport injury rehabilitation. The study determined that the top 3 mental skills reported were Goal Setting, Positive Thinking, and Imagery.

I was not surprised by this list because these mental toughness tools can produce the right attitude to move everyone toward success. The same mindset is needed by leaders, entrepreneurs, and business owners who need to stay ahead of their competition. Here is a closer look at why mental toughness gives you a competitive advantage:

1. Goal Setting

When you set a goal, you identify something you want, and also something you are willing to pursue in order to achieve.

Setting a specific goal makes you more likely to achieve it. This becomes important when you want a competitive advantage so you can take your sport to the next level, make a change in your career, or overcome an obstacle on your journey toward that goal.

TIP #1 SET GOALS FOR THE RIGHT REASON

Stop fantasizing about winning the lottery or making $10 million. Instead, set goals that align themselves to what really matters to your happiness and future well being. This is what will give you the competitive advantage you need in life.

TIP #2 FOCUS ON A DIRECTION

Set your training in a direction so that the pursuit of it will produce the life you want. If the journey is the right one, don’t worry if goals change or evolve with time.

TIP #3 CHANGE THE GOAL IF NEEDED

You will have a competitive advantage when you use mental skills to focus on the right thing—the direction you want your life to move. Don’t make the mistake of getting married to your goal. Often, goals need to change as our circumstances change. Goals are the steps to reach your vision, what really matters to you. 

2. Positive Thinking

There is a big difference between being an optimist and being a positive thinker. Positive thinkers are not necessarily happy or optimistic. Instead, positive thinkers are blunt realists who look misery right in the eye. They confront the most brutal facts of their day without expecting things to change. They adapt to their circumstances without ever losing hope.

Positive thinking is a mental skill that will give you a competitive advantage and help get you through any setback that comes your way.

TIP #1 FIND 5 POSITIVE THOUGHTS

The brain is naturally wired to pay more attention to negative rather than positive information because negative alerts us to emergencies and threats to our life.

When confronted with something that feels overwhelming, you will need to find 5 positive thoughts to counter each one negative thought that comes to mind. Sometimes it’s hard to find something positive in your situation and you have to look really hard.

TIP # 2 REFLECT ON EACH POSITIVE THOUGHT FOR 20 SECONDS

Take the time to really think about each positive thought. Let it soak in, don’t gloss over it. Negative thoughts are like velcro; they stickPositive thoughts are like teflon; they slide away easily.

TIP #3 STOP USING THE WORD “CAN’T”

This is the only 4 letter word I never heard in the FBI. Every time you say “I CAN’T” you create a negative feedback loop in your brain that keeps getting stronger and stronger. Synaptic connections thicken the brain tissues over time, wiring in that negativity. Negative thinking will never give you a competitive advantage.

3) Imagery

The benefits of using imagery and visualization is an incredible tool to develop mental toughness. This mental skill is based on solid science. By visualizing your successful performance repeatedly, your brain stores that information as a success.

TIP #1 VISUALIZE YOUR SUCCESS

When we give our brain a detailed portrait of our end goal, our brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is a powerful mental toughness tool that can give us a competitive advantage. This is the chemical that becomes active when we encounter situations that are linked to rewards from the past.

Dopamine enables us to feel good about our experiences and gives us confidence to move toward those rewards. To boost this brain response:

  • Imagine how events will unfold.
  • See yourself winning or achieving your goal.
  • Hear yourself being positive about the challenge before you.
  • Form a clear mental picture and do it several times a day.
  • Create a positive frame of mind.
  • Find images that represent your goal and post them where you’ll see them regularly.

Visualizing is not fantasy or wishful thinking. Fantasies can actually lessen your chance for success. Your brain can tell the difference, and looks at fantasies as a threat! If people fantasize about their future performance, they are less prepared and more stressed when things don’t workout. 

TIP#2 MOVE AHEAD WITH FEARLESSNESS

Use imagery and visualize how you will succeed in various situations you might encounter in the future. For example,

  • Visualize how you will react and respond when criticized by a competitor.
  • Prepare for the hard questions from your supervisor.
  • Rehearse your response to conversations that might come up.

This is enough to get that important shot of dopamine. It can give you a competitive advantage so you can move beyond your self-limiting beliefs about yourself and current circumstances.

© 2018 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.” 

7 FBI Traits That Will Make You A Better Leader

Monday, April 9th, 2018

I loved being an FBI agent because there was a sense of meaning and purpose every time I walked into the office. The FBI’s mission is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.

I worked hard to solve complex problems. You might be imagining movies, gun battles, and running down bad guys. In truth, a lot of what I did as an agent wasn’t all that different from many of the challenges you face as entrepreneurs, leaders, and business owners.

I was good with a gun, I admit, but most of my time was spent working with people who had different opinions and a conflict of interest. This created problems I couldn’t just shoot. Instead, they required people skills; I suspect many of you can relate.

Today’s business world is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. If you want to move your career or company forward, you have to learn how to be a better leader:

The FBI does not hire new agents based on their skills. Instead, they hire by the traits and values exhibited by applicants and then train new agents with the skill sets they will need. If an agent has the right values, traits, and abilities, they can learn anything.

This is where most businesses have it backward. Instead of hiring people because of their traits and values, they hire skill sets and then try to backload the company’s culture and values.

If the goal of leadership is to empower people to make their own decisions, then here are 7 FBI traits that will make you a better leader:

1. Confidence

Boosting confidence is the primary goal of the FBI Academy—before they send agents out with a gun and badge.

As a new agent, there were days when my heart raced and my palms sweat just thinking about the new challenges that faced me. But I learned that success would not make me confident—rather, confidence in myself and my abilities would make me successful.

If you don’t believe in yourself, how can others believe in you? It took a bit of acting on my part in the beginning, but the more I acted confident, the more confident I became. Feedback from others was positive, which in turn, gave me more confidence!

TIP: You become a better leader when you cultivate ways to signal your confidence to others, especially using body language.

When our brain receives a clear image of confidence and competence, it takes that good impression and makes a snap judgment. This allows the brain to move on to other issues.

2. Humility

A few years back my squad was set to arrest a fugitive known to be armed and dangerous. Since I was the case agent, everyone assumed I would be the one to make the arrest. The fugitive was a big guy with broad shoulders and sure to resist arrest, and defensive tactics had never been my strong point.

It is humbling to admit to yourself, or others, that you are not the best person for the job. It’s OK to admit it and turn to another person more experienced or better prepared, and ask for their help.

You may not need help in arresting a fugitive, but you may need to surround yourself with people who are more experienced or better prepared, and ask for their help. The best leaders are confident enough to surround themselves with people who are smarter and more talented.

They are also humble enough to learn from these people because they understand they will get a better outcome as a result of their involvement. 

TIP: You become a better leader when you are willing to listen to, but not be dominated by, the talent around you. If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.

3. Good Values

For insiders, FBI stands for Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity. These are the values that drive the organization.

Leadership is not a skill set; it is rooted in who we are and what matters to us. Our values are defined by what we are willing to struggle for when the chips are down. It’s doing the right thing and doing the best we can because that is who we are.

Ultimately, our values define our struggles. When we choose better values, we get better problems to solve. We need to be motivated by something more important and greater than our own happiness. If we are not driven to take our life to the next level by something more than our own selfish desires, we are the definition of a narcissist.

TIP: When you prioritize good values, you become a better leader because they produces true confidence and genuine humility. Decisions are easier because the answer is always “do the right thing.”

4. Kindness

Not all FBI negotiations involve the barrel of a gun. The most successful agents find ways to get along with people, pure and simple.

It is rare that an agent can dictate how a relationship is going to unfold. In the movies we hear lines like, “OK, this is what you’re going to do for me.” In reality, we need to look for what’s mutually beneficial if we’re looking to cut a deal or negotiate.

The best way to accomplish this is to find common ground, and this is accomplished by being sensitive to the needs of the other person. Exhibiting kindness helps us become a better leader because bullying, extortion, or browbeating rarely gets constructive results.

TIP: Mentally tough leaders who are kind know how to inspire their people in a way that, in turn, creates a commitment for their mission.

5. Tough

It may seem that kindness and toughness are contradictions, but they are actually very compatible. There are times when a leader needs to hold people accountable and draw a clear line that differentiates between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

Great leaders don’t worry about being unpopular or making everyone happy. They’re always reminding themselves that their job is to improve the organization.

While rules and standards provide structure for people, tough leaders are not afraid to buck the system to get what they want. They know how to interpret the cultural norms of the office or company and are respectful, yet persistent, in presenting new ideas for projects.

It is the mixture of toughness and kindness that opens doors without alienating the standard bearers that have calcified in their corner office desk chair.

TIP: You become a better leader when you stumble and make mistakes but are tough enough to take control of your reputation and manage the way you are perceived.

6. Listening Skills

I didn’t know what to expect when the FBI sent me to a training course on hostage negotiation.  As an unassuming man stood in front of the class and welcomed everyone in dulcet tones, I was looking around for the hard ass who had talked down a terrorist in New York the week before. The man spoke politely but I didn’t listen because I wanted to hear from the hostage negotiator!

Guess what? He was the hard ass hostage negotiator. That week I learned the key to agreements, whether you are negotiating with a kidnapper or a client, is that they happen only when both sides are willing to listen.

This is a skill that will help us become a better leader because when we listen, we get insight into how other people think, feel, and behave. It is counterproductive to be aggressive, pushy, and demanding. Instead, good listeners are likable and create an environment that feels both safe and comfortable. They are secure enough that they are not threatened by listening to someone who may have more talent or experience.

TIP: It’s a good idea to repeat what you think you heard the other person say. It lets them know you really are listening, and gives you an opportunity to let their words soak in.

7. Emotional Intelligence

The FBI is not a touchy-feely organization; agents prefer terms like competence and persistence to explain their success. The words emotional intelligence rarely escape their lips. Yet face-to-face interviews remain the FBI’s top investigative technique.

Emotional intelligence is an ability to walk into a room and understand what others might be feeling, and through that insight, communicate to them in effective ways. Awareness and curiosity about their own emotions, as well as those of others, place leaders in a stronger position to not only recognize the negative ones but to anticipate how they could spin out of control.

TIP: Emotional intelligence helps you become a better leader because it enables you to build on relationships with others and then use those relationships to accomplish your goals.

I actually have come to learn that the way to evaluate leaders is not from skills through abilities to values but to actually start the other way. If a leader has the right values and the right abilities, they can learn anything. If you hire and promote backwards and start with, ‘so what are their skills? What jobs have they had?’—you may miss the fact that they don’t have the abilities you need and the values you need”—James Comey, Former FBI Director

© 2018 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.”

 

Want Happiness? 3 Effective Ways To Take Charge Of Your Career

Monday, January 1st, 2018

As a new agent at the FBI Academy, happiness was not a priority. Our instructors took great delight when they uncovered 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 counted each push-up when we started out. When we hit the ninth push-up, he repeated, “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.” You guessed it: I finished the test and missed 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. The failure was traumatic. I hit rock bottom and was filled with desperation. It was at that moment, however, that I heard my calling. I wanted a career that would provide my life with value and meaning. For me, it was the FBI.

Every leader, entrepreneur, and business owner will have a different answer. But, to take charge of your career, you will need to dig down and uncover what provides your life with value and meaning. If you want happiness, it will need to be about more than money. If you make money your top priority, your soul will be sucked dry.

We all have a choice to make. We can whine about the raw deal life has handed us. Or, we can take charge of our life and focus on the things that truly matter. Because, guess what? Once we find the things that truly matter, we will find something much richer than happiness. We will find contentment and joy.

Here are 3 effective ways to take charge of your career (and yes, maybe find a little happiness as well):

1. Find 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, but each time you’re a little smarter about it. 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 drift 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 built up the strength to pass the push up test.

How To Make It Work For You:

To take charge of your career you will need to distinguish between passion and heart. Passion is an overused and overworked term. When someone starts talking about their passion, I break into a nervous sweat. It usually means their obsession of the moment. It’s easy to be passionate when things work 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.

2. Align Goals with Your Heart

Many people focus on yearly goals, but that is a big mistake. Instead, identify what brings you a sense of joy. Then create goals to get you there. Let’s be honest: the real reason you want to be a millionaire is so you have the freedom to pursue the things that create excitement for you!

Get clear about what you want. What is the result you’re looking for? Do you want better relationships, financial independence, or is there something else?

Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, did a study on goal-setting with 267 participants. She found that we are 42% more likely to achieve our goals when we write them down.

  • 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

Without goals to anchor us, we find ourselves adrift in life. We rely on goals to give us direction, but they only get in the way if they aren’t attached to something that creates joy and excitement for us. This is better known as the life-deferment plan—“someday I’ll get around to it.”

I passed the final physical fitness 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 it all I had aligned my goals with where I truly wanted to go in life.

How To Make It Work For You:

To take charge of your career, here are some ways you can align goals with your heart:

  • Name the things that you look forward to in your day or week.
  • Recognize that your dream can also be a calling and that you may have more than one.
  • Stop being a slave to the life or job that is not fulfilling.
  • Minimize time spent on meaningless work.
  • Create time to pursue projects that do create excitement and life. Many of us have financial obligations that necessitate the need for those projects to remain a hobby. Don’t give up on them, though.
  • Write your most important goal on a blank sheet of paper and brainstorm ways to make it happen.

3. Examine The Labels You Give Yourself

The labels that others give you don’t matter as much as the ones you give yourself. Those that are self-imposed are boundaries that can limit where you move. Subconsciously, you may not let yourself cross them.

“Not an athlete“ was a label quickly given to me in the first few days of the Academy. I trained but made little progress. I gradually came to understand that not only had my classmates given me this label, but that I had accepted it, too. As long as I kept it, I wouldn’t be able to move beyond the self-imposed boundaries.

Happiness is not how I would describe how I felt about my situation at that moment. However, I knew that if I wanted to be fulfilled in the future, I would need to find a way to take charge of my career. Sooner, not later. Once I peeled back the label, I found an inner strength that translated to physical strength as well.

How To Make It Work For You:

To take charge of your career, here are some ways you can examine the labels you’ve given yourself, or accepted from others:

  • Recognize barriers that you’ve placed around yourself.
  • Pinpoint where those barriers came from. Most self-limiting beliefs are imposed on us by family, teachers, or associates from an early age.
  • Disregard limits that have been imposed by others.
  • Respect the boundaries imposed by your own personality. This means you need to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Most of the barriers that prevent us from living a full life are based in fear. There are many fears that show up in all personalities, such as fear of failure, success, intimacy, and change.

In our relentless pursuit of happiness, we’ve missed the value of pursuing the things that truly excite us in a deeper and more meaningful way. Take charge of your career, and life, and focus on what is important to you.

© 2018 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

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.”

4 Traits Essential For Success

Monday, November 27th, 2017

When I was 12 years old, I learned a big lesson about some of the traits essential for success.

We got word around noon that my Dad’s father was in the hospital and not expected to live. Earlier that week, 4 feet of thick, wet snow fell on our remote Wyoming cattle ranch, burrowed in the shadow of Laramie Peak. The roads were impassable. The little town where Grandpa was hospitalized was 30 miles away as the crow flies.

They had a testy relationship, but Dad felt it very important to see Grandpa before he died. I suspect he hoped to make amends. Dad saddled his favorite horse, a tall bay with a black mane and tail named Fireball, and started out at 1:00pm.

The Laramie Range of mountains are rough, so my Dad followed a riverbed until he got to an old abandoned road. We had trailed our cattle on that road many times and Fireball sensed he was in familiar territory. At one point, Dad got off to lighten Fireball’s load, but the snow was crotch deep, forcing Dad to get back on his horse.

Darkness hit but they plowed onward. As they moved out of the mountains, bare patches of dead grass showed up through the snow. Dad tried to get Fireball to move beyond a walk but the horse was so tired, the most he could muster was a slow trot.

Wind had created a snowbank around a wire gate. Dad wrapped one end of his rope around the gate post and tied the other end to his saddle horn. As he led Fireball away, the gate post pulled from the ground. Both man and horse rode through the snowbank to the other side.

They arrived at my Grandpa’s ranch house in complete darkness. It had taken them 7 hours non-stop to make the trip. Fireball was so weary his legs shook. Dad found keys to a truck and headed to the hospital. He got there before his father died.

There are many traits essential for success no matter your circumstances or situation. Here are 4 that I learned from this experience:

1. Courage Will Move You Out Of Your Rut

It took courage for Dad to put his life in jeopardy by doing the hard thing. The easy thing would have been to stay at home. He had faith in Fireball to save his life.

Likewise, it takes courage to place your career in jeopardy when moving ahead holds no promises. The future looks bleak and the road will be hard. If things don’t work out, it might mean your career will stall and die. But if you don’t try it, your spirit might be the thing to die.

Courage is one of the traits essential for success because it’s fundamental to propelling change and motivating people—even if the idea sounds crazy. Benjamin Franklin must have looked crazy as he chased after thunderstorms and lightning.

If you want to inspire others to achieve what may look impossible, you need the courage to move into the unknown. Innovative companies such as Uber and Airbnb didn’t wait until tried-and-tested models were developed before they moved ahead. Both companies had the courage to change the way their two industries serviced their clients. 

TIP: Courage is not always easy but its essential if you plan to be successful in both business and life. If it scares you, do it. Every time you do something scary or uncomfortable, you learn so much about yourself and your character. That awareness is something you will take with you wherever you go. Self-awareness is a major part of mental toughness.

2. Take A Risk If You Don’t Know The Answer

About 5 miles after he started, Dad rode by the ranch house of Uncle Stanley. Uncle Stanley took one look at Fireball and said, “That horse will never make it. You’ll die out there.” Dad knew he was taking a risk, but it was a calculated one. He had picked his best horse, and he had lived in the mountains his entire life so he understood the terrain.

The willingness to take a risk is one of the traits essential for success because it requires that you embrace the belief you have what it takes. Belief in yourself, and your team, will take you where you want to go. The smallest amount of doubt can ruin your chances of success.

Assessing risk also relies on knowledge and experience. It makes no sense to take a risk unless you have underlying knowledge that will help in deciding. Whether you add a new item to a menu, test a new product, or add a service, you need to have a deep understanding of the move that is being considered.

TIP: Be smart about your risks, be logical, be rational and calculating, and always improve your skills. But most importantly, always believe in yourself. As Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.”

3. Resilience Is Needed When Life Gets Hard

Dad understood the risk he was taking. He could freeze to death if Fireball broke a leg in the deep snow and couldn’t continue. Dad assessed the risk and decided. He remained positive and focused on what was going right rather than on the negative.

Resilience is one of the traits essential for success because an adaptable and flexible mindset can find ways around obstacles. Resilient people cultivate a strong sense of opportunity during periods of turbulence. They cope well because they see challenges as part of life’s journey; they embrace them rather than fight them.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from whatever adversity you are facing. Often the only way out—is through the adversity. We must push through a bad situation that faces us. We need to be positive thinkers. The best time to nip negative emotions is when they first appear because this is when they are the weakest.

TIP: A resilient individual is not someone who avoids stress; rather, it is someone who learns how to tame it. Psychologists distinguish between good stress, or “eustress” and bad stress. Positive experiences cause eustress while negative experiences cause bad stress. A new body of research suggests that stress is not bad for you unless you believe it is bad for you. Seeing stressors as challenges rather than threats invites physiological responses that can improve thinking and cause less physical wear and tear.       

4. Confidence Is Needed To Manage Ambiguity

Fireball and Dad stepped into the unknown as they made tracks through the thick, heavy snow. Dad had no way of knowing what to expect but he had confidence in Fireball. He also had confidence in himself because this was not his first rodeo. Although the stakes had never been this high, he well knew of the danger that lay ahead. He was also confident he would make it.

The ability to manage ambiguity is one of the traits essential for success because change is the only certainty in this world today. Ambiguity creates complexity and confusion around the decision-making process.

To deal with ambiguity you must be comfortable with uncertainty. You cannot control everything so make peace with it and prepare as best you can. A great deal of learning how to deal with ambiguity is having confidence in yourself so you can land on your feet when confronted with the unknown.

TIP: Confident people are not afraid to take a stand, even when surrounded by uncertainty. Prepare as best you can. Lean into your own experiences and knowledge, reach out to others with more experience and different ideas, and be a good listener.

P.S. While Fireball lived another 10 years, he was never the same because tendons in his legs had torn. He walked with difficulty so Dad kept him on good feed and never rode him again.

© 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.”

Why Some People Succeed Almost All The Time

Monday, October 16th, 2017

I was never the smartest student in my classes. I had to really work hard to earn an A. But, I thought I knew why some people succeed almost all the time. Because they are smart!

When it comes to success, it’s easy to think that people who are blessed with brains are the ones who will make it to the top. Common sense suggests that being smart inspires confidence. It does for awhile, but only while the going is easy.

The deciding factor in success is how you handle setbacks and challenges. People who are convivial and pleasant even in hard times tend to attract the right people around them. With the right people come the right opportunities.

There is a reason why some people succeed almost all the time, and it has little to do with being smart. Instead, they develop personal habits that carry them through setbacks and challenges. They use mental toughness to master the art of discipline and become the right person at the right time.

Here is a list of personal habits for you to cultivate as well:

1. Forget Self-Improvement

The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because they understand their core strengths. They don’t waste precious time trying to fix their weaknesses. Too much popular self-improvement tries to build up a skill set or talent that is lacking.

Identify your strong character strengths and skill sets. Think about how you might use those strengths at work, in relationships, and at home. You’re also less likely to experience depression and other anxiety.

TIP: Bask in what is already great about yourself rather than try to fix what is not.

2. Savor “Me” Time

The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because they understand the value of time. They direct their efforts toward the most important things in their life. It is important that they impose effective time management skills and learn how to say no.

They prioritize what needs to be done from what would be nice to get done. People who savor “me” time are very good at cutting out toxic relationships that add no value. Small acts of self-care do not need to take up giant blocks of time. But it is important to allow yourself to indulge in the stuff that brings you joy.

TIP: Spend a little time and write down the things that bring a smile to your face. Find ways to incorporate these small acts of joy into your daily life.

3. Develop A Back-Up Plan

The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because they don’t leave things to chance. They have a back-up plan—for just about everything. From electrical outages to failed business plans, they create strategies that will help them move forward.

One of my favorite lines comes from The Eiger Sanction, a movie starring Clint Eastwood in which 5 men plan to climb the Eiger in Switzerland. Eastwood asks one of the climbers about the back-up plan in case they need to retreat. The climber replies, “I consider it self-defeating to plan in terms of retreat.” Eastwood’s character responds with, “I consider it stupid not to.”

Have a Plan B, because if Plan A is derailed, you can land on your feet and move right into Plan B. You might get blindsided by new competition, new regulations, or a turn in the economy.

TIP: Always have a Plan B to fall back on when things go wrong. And have other people available to help you execute it when the time comes.

4. Know What Makes Them Tick

The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because they pursue things that bring them value and meaning. They’ve figured out what makes them tick and they go for it. They edit the stuff that detracts from their pursuit.

Often, they make an extra effort to educate themselves about different issues and topics. This doesn’t mean they have loads of formal education, but they are curious.  Most likely, curiosity is what alerted them to their passion in the first place.

TIP: Find something that provides you with value and meaning. It might be related to your job, or it might not. It isn’t always important to get paid. But do put your gift to use.

5. Unafraid Of The Unknown

There was a shepherd boy named David. He was not a warrior and he was small in size. David looked at a giant named Goliath and said “I will strike you down and cut off your head. ” That is exactly what he did. Challenges are only as big as we make them.

The runt of the litter takes on the giant. We love stories of the underdog who musters the courage and confidence to find ways of beating the odds!

According to the story, David ran toward the giant. As Goliath moved in for the kill, David noticed a gap in the armor that protected Goliath’s head. David reached into his bag and slung one of his stones. It struck on the forehead, the giant fell down on the ground.

TIP: To increase safety, move toward the unknown. When David moved closer to the threat, he was able to see where and how to strike. Opportunities not seen from a distance were made visible as he pressed forward.

6. Cultivate Kindness

The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because other people like being around them. They attract other people who succeed almost all the time!

Being a do-gooder can increase your level of contentment. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but small acts of kindness can change your mental outlook. If the man standing behind you in the grocery line looks hungry and is buying one item, let him go ahead of you. Give someone a compliment.

What goes around comes around. If you are kind to others, there’s a decent chance you’re kind to yourself as well.

TIP: Try this 10-second exercise from Chade-Meng Tan. Identify two people in your office and think, “I wish for these two people to be happy and content.” Don’t say or do anything else. Since no one else knows what you’re doing, there’s no risk of embarrassment. It turns out that being on the giving end of a kind thought is rewarding in and of itself.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

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