4 Secrets For A Strong Mind

Mental toughness is an important characteristic in our heroes. The reality is, you and I must also be strong-minded if we are to overcome the obstacles we meet every day.

Jim Rockford was a hero who pushed the limits. He was mentally tough in order to do what he did, day after day. His exploits had a huge following in The Rockford Files, an American TV drama that followed the misadventures of an ex-con private investigator played by actor James Garner.

Heroes and tough guys on TV and in movies let us feel what it is like to have the mental toughness to break out of a seemingly boring existence, and enter into a much bigger world—one that is full of possibility.

Four Important Characteristics

What secret characteristics do heroes possess? They embody these elements:

  • Confidence
  • Persistence
  • Dedication
  • Control

Ok—so maybe the characteristics of a hero are not-so-secret after all. But how can you and I harness their power? How can we create the strong mind that is the trademark of those who live large in a world full of possibility?

L2L Reader Survey 2014


When I took the physical fitness (FIT) test at the FBI Academy, I was the bottom 1% that made the top 99% feel better about themselves. I failed miserably, so my challenge became twofold: maintaining confidence in myself, while training to pass the rigid FIT test. I worked with a coach at the Academy, who taught me the secret to building confidence.

“When you improve a little each day, eventually bigger things will come. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t worry about short, quick improvements. Seek out the small improvements, one day at a time. And when it happens—it lasts.”

The result? I passed the FIT test and worked as an FBI agent for twenty-four years.


Confidence is a belief in yourself and your ability to meet your goals.


Every day at the FBI Academy involved some kind of physical activity. As a trainee, I put in extra training for the FIT test. On top of that, as a class, we boxed each other, engaged in arrest scenarios, and ran around the basketball court holding 5 lb medicine balls. I was tired, depressed, and under pressure. Yet I knew that if I gave up, I would regret it the rest of my life. So I straightened my back and dug deeper. A strong mind is not built on something slapped together on a shallow foundation. It needs solid rock.

Like a skyscraper, the higher you want to go, the deeper you must go.


Persistence is the tendency is to see life’s obstacles as challenges to be met, rather than as threats.


Values Sorting Exercise with Recalibrate Cards

Values drive decisions. Decisions drive behaviors. Behaviors drive results.

Recalibrate Cards - Values Sorting & Prioritization Exercise


In the deepest part of me I knew that I would make the FBI my career. It was not a stepping-stone to something better that might come along. I was a disciple of my own deep values and beliefs. I had the will to subjugate my feelings to those values. In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey writes,

“If you are an effective manager of your self, your discipline comes from within.”


Strong-minded people have a dedication that comes from a purpose in alignment with their deepest values.


Push-ups were the most difficult aspect of the physical fitness test for me. After several of them failed to be counted, I began to “psyche myself out,” worrying whether I could do at all!

A strong mind shuts out feelings of fear and inadequacy, focused on reaching the goal.


Control is having a certainty that you are able to shape your destiny and not passively accepting events as fate.

How do you approach difficult situations? What has been most helpful to you in developing a strong mind? How do you differentiate between being hard-headed and strong-minded? How can a strong mind help you help others through their daily journeys? How can it impact your leadership? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

LaRae Quy
LaRae Quy is former FBI Agent and Founder at Empowering the Leader in You
She helps clients explore the unknown and discover the hidden truth in self & others
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Edited by Mike Weppler

Image Sources: blogs.guardian.co.uk


22 responses to “4 Secrets For A Strong Mind

  1. Great post here, makes me think about my position with self and how I need to bring myself under subjection.



  2. Great article, LaRae. I loved your story bringing to life how these four components are involved in mental toughness. Your four components of mental toughness tally well with the mental toughness questionnaire MTQ48 which is a proven reliable and valid psychometric for measuring a person’s mental toughness. Are you already aware of it?

    MTQ48 also has four scales, Commitment (equivalent to your Dedication), Challenge (equivalent to your Persistence), Confidence and Control. It offers a very neat way to give people a baseline they can work from to identify how they can develop or improve their mental toughness. It has been used successfully in all walks of life, from school to the boardroom, in public and private sectors, and is now used in about 18 (I think) countries around the world.

    Far more information is available on the test house website

    hope you find this useful
    Sue Mitchell


  3. I like this article a lot, LaRae. Nicely written and good use of personal experience. I am passing it on. All the Best! Wayne


  4. I want to read the seven habits of highly effective people .. it’s been a while sense I decided that I have to read this book .. but I just didn’t have time .. I think I will definitely do it this june 🙂 ..

    Thanks for the great article agent ^^


  5. Great article. Very personal and straight to the point. Love it.

    Keep up the good work.



  6. Pingback: The Power of Incremental Improvement | Awesome Little Goals·

  7. Can you rely on the information in this article to increase the possibilities of having more confidence?


  8. Great Post! But I just wonder what steps , what turn, what road to take to get to success! Where is that door that you walk in to get ready to become everything you ever wanted! You no when you ready you just don’t no where to turn what door to open who is by your side to help guide you keep you motivated ! 678 237 6181 some one help me my name valentino


    • Valentino, I think everyone asks those same questions because they’re good ones. For me, it means seeing opportunity in the small things as well as the big ones. If that is my attitude, then I’m always alert for doors that may open – especially the ones that are unexpected. Most people think of a strong mind as one that performs when confronted with the big decisions in life. I have found that the best way to build a strong mind is to accomplish and complete the small tasks in front of me. If I’m prepared in the present, then I can focus on the future.

      LaRae Quy 415.609.0608 LaRae@LaRaeQuy.com

      Visit the website at http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/blog/


  9. Thanks. You helped see where I am weakest & how to work on it: just keep going. I tend to always give up at a certain point. I hope to do more than just keep reading, and make it happen. Pushups are hard especially with injured shoulders. Mental & character pushups r even more difficult. Thanks for sharing what was tough for u & how u persisted to master the task AND your fears


  10. Really helping tips…. Ple suggest me how we can take those fear of our mind?? N face the problems?? Expecting your answer?


  11. The 4 elements for a strong mind you shared is appreciated. I will share these tips with my children. Thank you.


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  13. Pingback: 4 Secrets For A Strong Mind | Linked 2 Leadership | Leadership Coaching and Business Mentoring·

  14. What I find incredible, is doing night hikes by my self in the mountains. It is that want of over coming fear that gets me threw that extra mile. I also tell my self pain means nothing. Pain is pointless. I am an active jogger. I like to ignore my pain threw coaching my self of going up hills and rough terrains. ” “You must Fear, FEAR to overcome Fear” ” No Mercury, No pain, No fear. Simple is that. You Must force your self to do the exact opposite of what you want. Then we can do any thing.


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