After four months of training at the FBI Academy, one of the most important lessons I learned is that moving toward the conflict or challenge increases safety.
When I was going through the FBI Academy at the age of twenty-five, one of the physical fitness requirements was to dive off a 50-foot diving board while holding an M16 rifle, and then swim to the other side of the pool with the gun.
I had two problems: I was afraid of heights and I couldn’t swim.
As my training class and instructors waited for me to jump, I seriously doubted that in real life I would ever need to jump into a pool of water with an M16 while chasing a suspect. This was something I had to do, however, to graduate from the Academy. So I plunged in and bounced back up to the surface—still holding the gun. I floundered until I made it to the other side.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized the swimming pool test had nothing to do with superior law enforcement techniques. Instead, it taught me that those who keep their back straight when confronted with uncomfortable challenges or conflict will inspire others around them. Everyone knew I was afraid of the jump, but it was something that I needed to do. Once I took the plunge, the by-product was two-fold.
I had earned respect from my classmates. And I built confidence in myself.
A Radical Approach
The lesson I learned about uncomfortable challenges and conflicts: to increase safety, move toward them.
This may sound counterintuitive, since we often have a physiological reaction as our forehead starts to sweat and our stomach gets knotted. No one wants to step into a situation where the outcome is unknown
Is there another option? Oh yes—there is one, and its called avoidance. We can always pretend the conflicts do not exist or hope they will go away. WE can choose to never explore our truest potential because we are afraid of difficult and uncomfortable challenges. If we are to handle them effectively, we need to develop the confidence in ourselves that we can accomplish our goals and overcome the difficult and unexpected obstacles presented by the unknown.
Believe in Your Competence
Here are three ways the FBI prepared me to move toward the unknown.
Training in the FBI never stops. It began the day I entered the Academy in Quantico, and continued until the day I retired. After firing over 3,000 rounds to get qualified as a new agent, I then re-qualified 4-6 times a year over the next 24 years. After hitting the bull’s eye target enough times, I built confidence in my ability to shoot my Glock with accuracy.
Train enough and you won’t have to stop and think about how you will respond when confronted with resistance—it will come automatically.
2) Repeat experiences of success
As a counterintelligence agent, my job was to recruit spies to work for the U.S government. I began fine-tuning my persuasion skills by recruiting neighbors to volunteer at community fundraisers. I started off small and worked up to bigger commitments. As my abilities grew, I was to enlist the cooperation of people who knew the targets of my investigations and persuade them to provide me with information for my investigation.
Each success was a building block.
I worked my way up to the real thing, and guess what—it worked!
Build your confidence by starting small and adding to your success experiences.
3) Learn more
The more that is learned about a situation or person, the easier it is to think on your feet and choose a better response. There is an old saying I abide by, and it goes like this: “Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.” The more we learn about any challenge or conflict we are confronting, the more prepared we are in moving toward the unknown.
Move closer to observe that which threatens or challenges you.
How has moving toward a challenge or conflict moved you to a greater place of security? How have difficult situations developed a better sense of self-awareness? What would you do differently if you could revisit a past conflict?
LaRae Quy is former FBI Agent and Founder at Your Best Adventure
She helps clients explore the unknown and discover the hidden truth in self & others
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Edited by Mike Weppler
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