Define The Relationship – Yes, it is all your fault.

Vulnerability is Power (2)

 

 

 

 

 

If you own something mentally, no one can ever take it from you. Own your mistakes. Own your failures. Own your wins. Own your relationships. Make them yours. Our true success is determined by our relationships and experiences. Relationships are either growing or dying. Make sure yours are growing.

We are what we think about. We manifest our innermost thoughts by the actions we take. Our professional and personal relationships are also a direct reflection of our thoughts regarding the relationship. If a relationship is in a bad state, trying to determine who is at fault is your first mistake. My wife taught me that one. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is, that is just wasting time. Your actions determine your outcomes.

When we understand ourselves, we can begin to understand others. Justin Bariso helps us understand the value of emotional intelligence when making decisions regarding relationships:

“Emotional intelligence involves the ability to recognize and understand your emotions, and to use that information to guide decision making.”

Key Account Performance trainer and coach Jermaine Edwards teaches:

“Your ability to become a master relationship builder is critical…This is not just about adapting to behavioral styles it’s about understanding people.”

When you work toward making sure the other person’s needs and desires are being met, you can truly begin to understand the person and the situation. This is emotional intelligence in action, or emotional competence. Knowing when the problem is too big to surpass is part of emotional intelligence. Then acting on that knowledge is what helps us separate bad relationships from good. This is emotional competence. Knowing when to keep pushing takes emotional intelligence. If the relationship is worth fighting for, don’t give up. Keep working, keep helping the other person “win”. When a leader creates winners, everybody becomes a winner. Strong relationships produce winners.

When you have problems in a relationship it is probably because You:

  1. Talked too much…
  2. Didn’t listen (because you were talking, or wanting to talk)…
  3. Thought your needs were more important than the other person’s needs…
  4. Forgot the purpose of the relationship…
  5. Stopped nurturing the relationship…
  6. Made yourself the “hero” instead of them…

You have done those things. I have done those things. We need to stop doing those things. Once you put the needs of the other person, team, company etc. at the front of your concern, your entire perspective changes. You will sell more. You will have more fun. Your spouse will like you more. You will have better relationships.

Andrew Sobel’s book, Power Relationships is a game changer. He teaches that there are 26 laws for building solid relationships and that that when building “deep personal relationships” their are 4 rules that specifically apply:

  1. Vulnerability is Power (law #16)
  2. Enthusiasm is Contagious (law #24)
  3. Change the Environment and You’ll Deepen the Relationship (law #12)
  4. There’s always something, no matter how small, that you can do to help the people around you. (law #14)

These timeless “laws” help us understand how our own actions have enormous influence on the the relationships we are trying to build.

4 More Ways to Build Great Relationships:

Collaborate & Communicate (not to share your ideas, but to learn and understand THEIRS)

“Nobody succeeds for long in a silo. Whatever our ventures…we can’t forget all the people who are involved in and essential to our success…Those who succeed learn from their mistakes and from the people around them…The most successful collaborators understand how to communicate respectfully and accurately.” – Faisal Hoque

Care (if you care, they KNOW, they can FEEL it)

“It only takes a second to make another person feel valued, yet the effect can last a lifetime.” – Jeff Haden

Continue Pressing Forward (no solid relationship was BUILT by a quitter)

“Mental toughness: it is believing I would prevail in my circumstances rather than believing my circumstances would change.” – LaRae Quy

Contribute (provide VALUE)

“If you help others get what they want, they will help you get what you want.” – Lolly Daskal

Putting it all together: The more we help other people, the stronger our relationships become. The strength of our relationships are is directly proportional to the amount of influence we have. As we increase our ability to build relationships through emotional intelligence our personal desire to help others naturally increases. As the influential Josh Steimle says:

“Building great relationships takes time and work and presence.” 

We must put in the effort. It will be hard, and it will take time. Yet, the results will come. The more people we help, the better relationships we have and the more successful we become.

7 Questions to Ask Yourself Every Morning

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What is the best way to get what you want? Ask for it.

And if you want to get better — at anything — ask yourself to be better. Here are some great ways to do just that. Ask yourself:

1. “Do I show enough gratitude?”

Gratitude is the key to unlocking happiness. Happiness helps drive performance, fulfillment, and success. Are you writing down ten things you are grateful for everyday?

Do you show people how much you care?

2. “What does my ‘gut’ tell me?”

You you know that gut feeling you have? Trust it. Trust your intuition. Then question the reason you have that gut feeling. You will learn tons about yourself. You have had immense experience and your subconscious processes it all.

Your “gut” is a driving force curating your emotions, knowledge, and experiences. Use it and learn from it.

3. “Why do I do what I do?”

Why are you doing what you are doing right now? What makes you want to do it? How does what you are doing help you realize your ultimate goals? Do your actions help others? What can I learn?

Focus on learning. Focus on experiences. The more experiences you have to learn from, the stronger your ability to help others becomes.

4. “Is this the best I can do?”

Ask yourself: Am I doing my best? Can I do more?

If you can’t, awesome, keep going. If you can… get better. Do more. Try harder. Work smarter. Ask others to help you do better.

Master your skill. Master your craft.

5. “Am I using my mentor or coach effectively?”

Mentors and coaches are not always the same person, even though they can be. You might need both, but always have at least one.

Help them help you by actually listening and applying what they teach you. Ask them deeper questions. Ask them to help you stretch yourself. Ask them, “Why?”

6. “Do I love myself?”

This question is hard to answer.

Answer it anyway.

Check your self talk. Am I negative about my actions or thoughts? Do I give others more credit than I give myself? Do I treat my mental and physical self with respect? Am I truly loving myself?

When you love yourself, you can better love other people.

7. “Am I helping enough people?”

At the end of our lives our relationships are the things that matter. The people who we have helped, and who have helped us, build our lives. The more we help others the more fulfillment and satisfaction we will feel.

While success as a destination is hard to find, success as a journey can be experienced every day.

Help more. Make your journey better and bring others with you.

The bottom line: Questions help us think more deeply. They help us understand where we are, find the gaps, fill the gaps, and increase our performance. As we question ourselves we can get stronger because we better understand our motivations… and by taking positive action, we can get a tiny bit stronger everyday.

Mareo McCracken

Originally Published on Inc.com

 

You Are Destroying Trust (and What You Can Do About It)

“Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is how you are ruining trust in your (business) relationships:

  • You lie.
  • You hide information.
  • You stop producing for the team.
  • You think you know more than everyone else.

Don’t do these things. No one is perfect, but we sure can try. Instead of focusing on the negatives, focus on what you do well, what others do well, and magnify those talents. Every interaction we have with others either builds or destroys trust. Focus on building!

5 Effective Ways to Build Trust in the Workplace:

DO WHAT IS RIGHT – Easy. Just don’t be a jerk. Don’t hurt other people. Don’t lie. Don’t play politics. Help others. Be nice. Work hard. Think positive. In every situation just make sure you do what is honorable and helpful.

ACT WITH INTEGRITY – You show integrity through honest actions and words. Honesty is the root of trust in all relationships. Integrity must start from the top and then move down. Being honest means telling the truth, keeping promises no matter the consequences. If its people have integrity, the relationship is healthy. If relationships are healthy, then business is healthy.

HAVE SHARED GOALS – Teamwork only happens when the goals are shared. To create trust, employees/colleagues must feel like everyone is working together to carry out a shared dream, a shared vision, instead of a series of personal agendas. The best teams know the goal, believe the goal, and work toward it together.

ALWAYS COMMUNICATE – Communication is the vehicle for information and truth. We must communicate our values and vision first, and then we can communicate our organization’s vision next. By opening channels of communication, we can all stop trying to do the impossible task of reading minds.

CREATE PARTNERSHIPS – You build trust when people work together. We need to value each person. Trusted partners know that the work they do is important and that the work their partner will do is quality. AS partner has the same goals and dreams. A partner wants you to succeed.  This means the leaders need to spend more time with the team. Then leaders need to give and receive feedback.

If you are a leader you need to build trust.

Stephen M.R. Covey, Author of The Speed of Trust teaches that these are the 13 behaviors of high trust leaders across the globe, they:

  1. Talk Straight
  2. Demonstrate Respect
  3. Create Transparency
  4. Right Wrongs
  5. Show Loyalty
  6. Deliver Results
  7. Get Better
  8. Confront Reality
  9. Clarify Expectation
  10. Practice Accountability
  11. Listen First
  12. Keep Commitments
  13. Extend Trust

Mr. Covey says: “Remember that the 13 Behaviors always need to be balanced by each other (e.g., Talk Straight needs to be balanced by Demonstrate Respect) and that any behavior pushed to the extreme can become a weakness.” 

The foundation of all worthwhile relationships is trust. Trust is about risk. It is about emotional intelligence and it means giving control to others. The more trust we develop trust, the more success that we will find. Joel Peterson (JetBlue / Standford / Investor) wrote a new book (just finished it!) that outlines what trust is, how to develop it, and how to repair it. His book teaches these 10 Laws of Trust:

  1. Start With Personal Integrity
  2. Invest in Respect
  3. Empower Others
  4. Measure What You Want to Achieve
  5. Create a Common Dream
  6. Keep Everyone Informed
  7. Embrace Respectful Conflict
  8. Show Humility
  9. Strive for Win-Win Negotiations
  10. Proceed with Care

“…the absence of trust is betrayal…” – Joel Peterson

As we show our integrity and performance, we will build trust. Building trust is about people, competence, honor, and performance. Work hard to make sure the people you work with can rely on you. Once they know that you care and are trustworthy, everything else becomes easier.

8 Traits the Most Self-Assured People Share

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People-watching is fun — sometimes inspiring, always instructive — so whenever I’m around people I try to learn as much as I can.

In business meetings I pay attention to and notice who does what. At community events I focus on what leaders and influencers do. I learn what to do and just as important, what not to do.

And I definitely notice what poised, self-assured, confident people do consistently:

1. They take responsibility.

Confident people don’t blame others. No matter the circumstance, a confident person understands that truly owning one’s feelings, emotions, and results is the only true path to success.

2. They crave progress.

Confident people don’t aspire for perfection; they drive for improvement.

To a confident person, the “perfect person” is one who knows who they really are and fully embraces their own possibilities. Improvement is a choice as well as a journey.

3. They don’t gossip — they uplift.

Confident people don’t talk about other people. They talk about ideas, projects, goals, plans, and aspirations.

They recognize the importance of staying positive — or at least neutral.

4. They understand the power of saying “no.”

Confident people don’t over-promise. They understand the value of time and effort and are conscious to commit to things that are aligned with their ultimate goals, passions, and beliefs.

By doing this, confident people are able to give their best at all times.

5. They honor their minds and their bodies.

Confident people know they need to take care of themselves to do and be their best. They value balance, which includes exercise, relationships, eating well, education, hard work, and sleep.

6. They know and act on their “why.”

Confident people have a purpose. The reason behind an action drives the enthusiasm for that action.

As a result they are excited, dedicated, passionate, and fearless. And they share their passions with others.

7. They ask for help.

Confident people know that trying to accomplish everything alone is not possible. They ask for help often. Confident people don’t feel threatened by seeking help from others.

Confident people love helping others, but they also love being helped.

8. They view failure as a learning moment.

Confident people don’t see failure as an end but instead as a tool to grow. They recognize that on the road to success there will be trials, challenges, and obstacles — but they know perseverance always wins in the end.

Remember, learning from others doesn’t mean striving to become a mirror image. Instead, take the best and find ways to make it your own and always ensure your actions align with the results you seek.

Watching and learning from the actions of others will help you learn more about yourself — because that is one of the best ways to become the best you.

**This article was originally published at Inc.com 

Mentors & Millennials

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

 

 

 

 

 

When I first entered the business world – as a millennial (Barely? Labels are a bit hazy when you apply one that you didn’t create. It is better to just create your own labels.) – I learned a great deal from my Gen-X mentors. I learned that sales is about solutions. I learned that business is driven by numbers, which are created by people. I was reminded that showing up is 20% of the battle (maybe 50%, I know it’s important though). I learned a lot, I should have learned more.

As millennials, we often seek out social networks rather than one-on-one mentorships. Luckily, I have had some incredible mentors. (Soon I will publish a detailed article on how to find a good mentor) Mentorship is not about about someone doing the heavy-lifting for you, rather it is about showing you where to lift to get the best results. As millennials, we need good mentors. We also need to become better mentors for others.

Earlier in my career I was traveling for a work related trip overseas and I received a call from my mentor. (Awesome, he called me! That is one sign of a great mentor!)

Mentor: “You know Mareo, we all have stuff we think about that limits our ability to perform, what is limiting you?”

Me: “I want to make more money.”

Mentor: “What is stopping you?”

Me: “I don’t know how. How do I make more money?”

Mentor: “Become a better leader.”

Me: “How do I become a better leader?”

Mentor: “Help more people. Learn from the best leaders and follow what they do.”

Then he hung up the call as he was boarding a flight.

So after he gave me his great advice (partial advice?), I began to deeply ponder what he said. I started reading more. I thought about previous experiences and analyzed various situations. I worked hard to answer the question: What makes a good leader? After lots of study I found that it is really simple actually:

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

I learned that the best leaders have vision. The best leaders know how to influence others. But what do the best leaders actually do? How do they get there? Here it is, this is what they do:

They –

1. Tie Everything to Their WHY. (Driving Purpose)

When you have a defined purpose you do not let minor interruptions stop you from achieving your goal. While on the road to success the steps you take may change, your ultimate purpose never does.

“Discovering your purpose doesn’t have to be complicated. Look at what you do and why you do it. Is it to support your family? That’s your purpose. Is it to make a difference in your customer’s life? That’s your purpose.” –  Anne F. Beiler

2. Are Adaptable (Consistent Perseverance Leads to Innovation) 

Successful people never quit, they just keep pushing forward until they succeed. There is no failure until you give up. The path to overcoming all obstacles is the ability to adapt to whatever your current situation is.  In the book, Mindset, by Carol Dweck, the author says that people who persevere have a growth mindset. A fixed mindset values smarts and talent the most, a growth mindset focuses on progress and learning. By adopting a growth mindset, you can let go of preconceived notions regarding innate ability and allow yourself to keep learning until you outlast the obstacles.

“Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.” –Max McKeown

4. Know Their Craft is King (Skills Drive Confidence and Trust)

Do good stuff. Get better stuff done. Become a master craftsman at whatever you choose to do. Learn as much as possible, learn how to do what you do better than anyone you know. As you take pride in your work, your ability to influence others will grow.  Find a mentor, learn from the best then apply your personality to every situation. The more your can perform, the more your confidence will increase. The more confidence you have the more likely you are to try new things and keep trying when the setbacks come.

“Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.” – Cal Newport

4. Are Mindful (Aware & Focused)

Mindfulness is the art of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it. Mindfulness is a key component that leads to true happiness. When you are mindful you have a more satisfied life. Being mindful makes it easier to enjoy the simple aspects of life as they occur. Being mindful helps you become more engaged in all your social and personal pursuits. Being mindful helps you overcome adversity. When you overcome adversity you can help others do the same.

“Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.” – Robin S. Sharma

5. Show Empathy

Humans need connection. Humans need support. We need each other. Showing empathy is the root of human connection. Leaders know how to connect. This connection raises their ability to influence. Empathy is one driving aspect of emotional intelligence. The higher the EQ we possess and develop, the more success we will create.

“At the end of the day, humans are social animals and we are at our best when we get to do things with others who appreciate and enjoy what we enjoy. It’s what keeps us human.” – Simon Sinek

We millennials have a lot to learn. We also have a lot to teach and share. Everyone can learn management skills. More importantly we can also learn to be better leaders by learning from our mentors. We also learn through mentoring others. By thoughtful practice we can improve our influence. James Altucher teaches that we should work hard to get 1% better each day. If we do that for 100 days… Find little adjustments you can make right now, and then another adjustment tomorrow and soon and you’ll be building practices that create more learning more progress; and you will be happier.

We all have had different experiences with leadership and growing into our potential. The trick is to keep learning as we help others in the journey.

 

 

My Bad Boss: Strategies to Overcome The Boss Who is The Worst

DONT LET A BAD BOSS

People have strengths. People have weaknesses. People are not perfect. We all have problems. Some problems are easy to deal with, others…not so much. We all have had to work with that one-person who really rubbed us the wrong way.

Remember that boss who knew everything, who didn’t like other people’s ideas, and belittled everyone? You know, that one who was the boss but there was no logical explanation for it? The trick to working with people who are egotistical, self-centered, and delusional is two-fold: make sure they think, you think, they are incredibly awesome (then find a way to believe it yourself); and develop a path for success in spite of them. Doing this takes extreme emotional intelligence. Something I learned the hard way.

Tim*(name changed, obviously) was awful. He was horrible to work with. He couldn’t sell anything, never could gain consensus and always made bad business decisions. He did have one thing going for him though; his last name was the same as the one on the company’s letterhead. Tim had zero emotional intelligence. Or maybe he did and just didn’t use it; either way – Tim was the worst.

Tim would assign me tasks/projects. I would do them. Then I would do more. He would assign me more tasks. I would do them. He would ignore me. I would ask for feedback, then he would ignore me. When it was time to formally review performance, his response was always “adequate”. No details. No discussion. It took a few months but I learned how to win him over, I learned what I needed to do to engage and succeed, not with him, but in spite of him.

Working with Tim was difficult but not impossible. What I learned from Tim I have been able to apply over and over again with all types of colleagues. Here are the strategies I use:

Write Down What Bothers You

Write down all the bad things. Then burn the paper that you wrote all those horrible things on. Really. Actually get a lighter and burn it. There is something cleansing about fire that allows you to move on. Burn the problems so there is no going back.

Write Down the Good Things They Do

Don’t burn this list. Keep it. Read daily if you have to. Remind yourself of the good in this person (even if it is just their last name). This will help you see them as a human rather than an object. Every time they do something good, right it down.

Stop Thinking About Yourself

It is almost impossible to feel sad/angry/worried if you are not thinking about yourself. I am not talking about self-care, self-respect, or self-confidence. Those are all very important. But, if you focus on other people, your worldview changes and you are able to help more, provide greater value, and become a bigger influencer.

Start Thinking About How You Can Help Them

Let go of your pride. People like it when others think about them. Think about your boss’s needs and find a way to meet them. Right down the needs in list format. Cross them off when you fill that specific need. Done.

Never Let Their Actions Determine Your Feelings & Actions

Emotions are temporary. Feelings are long-term decisions. Emotions come automatically; once they come, how you respond is up to you. Your long-term feelings and subsequent actions are 100% determined by you.

Make Sure They Feel Important

Self-explanatory, do what needs to be done. Compliment them. Praise them. Ask them for advice even if you don’t use it. Getting someone else’s opinion can help clarify your thoughts and no one is always wrong (hopefully). Respect their authority but don’t let it limit your influence either.

Work Smarter

No matter how hard you work, there is a way to work better. Work smarter to deliver better results. Focus on the needs of the business and your boss and then work harder by working smarter.

Don’t Gossip

Never talk bad about this person or about anyone. Gossip spreads fast. Gossip kills relationships. Gossip destroys trust. Never gossip. If you wouldn’t say it to this bad boss and it is not being asked of you by HR or their boss, don’t say it.

Show Appreciation

Gratitude is powerful. It will change you as a person and it will change the person receiving the appreciation (eventually). Tell them why you are thankful for them and be specific (except don’t say: “since you are so horrible I have now developed emotional intelligence”, find something else).

Just because they are not changing, growing or progressing doesn’t  mean that you can’t. Look for the good in others. Deliver results first then find even more ways to help. Focus on being aware of and then controlling your own emotions. Then you can focus on understanding the emotions of others so you can help them too. You might even forget how horrible that boss is, I know I did.

6 Secrets Successful People Know About Emotional Competence

EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE

Words spoken cannot be unsaid. A few years ago I was in a meeting with a cross-functional leadership team and my boss (who seemed successful); and I had just announced a new plan that would drastically change our customer approach. The idea was not only shot down, but I was belittled in front of the team. The boss even asked if I had “been living under a rock the past 6 months?”. Of course I handled it wrong, I felt the shame first and then the anger rise, and rise until I was going to put my boss in his place. At the last second, I remembered a book about emotional intelligence (Daniel Goleman’s) that I had just finished and realized I better not say what was about to be said. So I held my tongue and kept quiet.

The situation was handled wrong though. If I was more emotionally competent I would not have just kept quiet but I would have done a better job of reading the entire situation, understanding my emotions and the emotions of others, and knowing what words to speak and questions to ask in order to move the agenda forward. At that moment the situation was handled wrong because of a lack of emotional competence. Eventually with the effective use of one-on-one discussions the new approach was approved by my manager. Yet, I never trusted him again after the words he spoke, since once words are spoken, they can never be unsaid.

Success, Learning from Others, and Emotional Competence 

We all want success. How we define success might be different, but we all want it. (Jeff Haden has a great article about how we define success) It could be based on financial & professional goals, relationship goals, skill based goals, travel goals, or health goals. Whatever success you are searching for, there are actions that you can take to help you get there. Sometimes it is important to follow the lead of those who have been successful before us. Learning from others helps us shorten our time from where we are to the success we are pursuing. Finding joy in the journey is key to happiness. No matter what else is surrounding you, if you are happy you are successful. For me, success and true happiness is found from understanding who I am, pursuing my talents, building strong relationships and helping others.

One main skill that successful people have is the ability to understand and work well with their own emotions and the emotions of others. This is often called emotional intelligence. Last week I learned the difference between Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Competence (thanks LaRae Quy). Competence includes action; intelligence is theoretical.

These actions separate the emotionally competent from everyone else:

Emotionally Competent People Do These 6 Things: 

1. They Open Lines of Communication

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

2. They Thrive on Feedback

“I think a lot of times if you get feedback that is critical, your emotions might flare up and you might reject it. You need to be able to dial it back, calm down and listen to what they’re saying, because maybe they’re right.” – Laura Brown

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Ken Blanchard

3. They Are People Centered

“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” – Arianna Huffington

“If you make a person feel smart and insightful, that person will enjoy your company more.” – Gretchen Rubin

4. They Only Speak When Adding Value

“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.” – George Eliot 

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” – Benjamin Franklin

5. They Recognize and Respond to Emotions

“Our feelings are not there to be cast out or conquered. They’re there to be engaged and expressed with imagination and intelligence.” – T.K. Coleman

“An emotion does not cause pain. Resistance or suppression of emotion causes pain.” – Frederick Dodson

6. Use Smart &  Effective Body Language

“In short, our body language, which is often based on prejudices, shapes the body language of the people we’re interacting with.” – Amy Cuddy

“Sure, your personality and your emotional state will impact your confidence levels, but it’s obvious that assuming better body language, taking up space, and expanding your physical presence can play an important role as well.” – James Clear

In order to do those 6 things well you need 4 foundational skills:

Dr. Travis Bradberry teaches that emotional intelligence has 4 specific skills:

  1. Self-awareness (Personal Competence)
  2. Self-management (Personal Competence)
  3. Social-awareness (Social Competence)
  4. Relationship-management (Social Competence) 

These skills can be learned. As we focus on recognizing and labeling our own emotions we then can begin to focus on others. The more we focus our thoughts and actions on others, the more we are able to develop our own emotional competence. The purpose of success is to create and find (recognize) happiness along our journey. The more people we can help become successful, the more we will find our own personal success.

“Emotional self-control…delaying gratification and stifling impulsiveness- underlies accomplishment of every sort.”- Daniel Goleman

What a Former FBI Agent Just Taught Me About Confidence

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Recently I was lucky enough to have a Skype video call with LaRae Quy and she dropped huge amounts of knowledge. I would like to share the secrets I learned:

Confidence is not just faking it until you make it. LaRae Quy spent 24 years of her life in extremely tough situations. As an FBI counter intelligence and undercover officer she had her fair share of “defining” moments where the outcome could mean life or death. In these types of situations LaRae says:

“There is no room for faking it until you make it. You must summon the confidence from within first, and act on that confidence.”

In order to gain confidence you must be able to overcome obstacles. Some people gain confidence from success. That is great. What happens if you have never been successful in even a remotely similar situation though?

When LaRae was training at Quantico one of the requirements was to jump into a pool while holding an M-16 and then resurface and swim to the other side. The problem was, LaRae, growing up on a cattle ranch in Wyoming, never learned to swim. Even right before the exercise, she still couldn’t actually swim. But she understood that failure was not an option, she knew she had to do it and summoned the confidence to jump. Then she jumped. She is still here and believes that action is the proof of confidence. When you push your limits, your limits expand. You don’t fake courage. You take action.

LaRae Quy likes to use the term “Emotional Competence” instead of Emotional Intelligence. While they might seem one-and-the-same, the difference made perfect sense to me. Competence is a more relevant term than intelligence. I know a lot of intelligent people who are not competent. Competence is about action, while intelligence is about knowledge. This idea of competence over intelligence also manifests itself in a quote she told me during our video call:

“Theories are nice, evidence is better. Our lives are our evidence”

Competence leads to confidence. According this FBI Agent “Emotional Competence’” has 2 Main components: 

  1. Being Able to Identify The Feeling
  2. Regulating Your Feelings & The Resulting Actions

One of the main weaknesses we have when it comes to emotional competence is our vocabulary. When we discuss our feelings we are “ just fine” or “good”. This is weak and not descriptive. Being able to effectively identify and describe your emotion allows you to take the next steps in order to process and determine correct action. We need to be able to understand if we are angry, frightened, frustrated, jealous, concerned, worried, scared, or happy. Once we know what we are feeling we can then begin to understand why.

LaRae taught me that in order to be able to control (regulate) your actions and feelings there is a 5-step process:

  1. Quiet Your Mind
  2. Explore: Ask the Hard Questions
  3. Determine: Is This (Feeling/Idea/Perception) True?
  4. Decide What Needs to Be Done
  5. Take Action. Dare Yourself. Be Aggressive.

1. Quiet Your Mind – some people meditate. Some people exercise. Some people are religious. Whatever you do, make sure you have space and time to think about your thoughts. When your mind can focus and you are not being bombarded by outside noise, your ability to reflect and process information greatly increases.

2. Explore – this is where you ask what does this feeling do? Is it good for me? Is it self-limiting or is it helpful? Where does this feeling come from? Is it from my parents, my childhood, teachers, or friends and coaches? How did I get it? Why do I have it? Trace the origins. This is where all those questions must be answered.

3. Find Truth – is the feeling with its origin and meaning true? Does the feeling portray reality or am I making it up?

4. Decide What Needs to Be Done – what action if taken will move me closer to my desired outcomes? What action can I take? Where is my influence? Decide what you want to feel, what you want to accomplish and then focus on the actions that will get you there. By determining the best possible course of action, following through becomes easier.

5. Take Action – We need to challenge ourselves to proceed. All fear can be killed with action. Dare yourself to push your boundaries. Most limits are self-inflicted and can be broken. Break through those limits. Be aggressive with your actions and take control of your personal limitations.

The lack of confidence is present at all levels. Executive leaders feel unsure about their abilities just as much as junior analysts. It is rampant for both men and women, often though it is just expressed differently. Feeling afraid or questioning your abilities is ok as long as you do not dwell on the feeling and start believing it as true. Feel the feeling. Label the feeling. Then apply LaRae’s 5-steps to understand, question, and take corrective action. If you follow this process, you will be able to gain true confidence and thereby take more action in the future.

More about LaRae: LaRae Quy was an FBI undercover and counterintelligence agent for 24 years. She exposed foreign spies and recruited them to work for the U.S. Government. As an FBI agent, she developed the mental toughness to survive in environments of risk, uncertainty, and deception. LaRae is the author of “Secrets Of A Strong Mind” and “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths.”

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