5 Characteristics of a Strong Mind

LaRae Quy worked as an undercover and counterintelligence FBI agent for 24 years. She exposed foreign spies and recruited them to work for the U.S. Government. Now she speaks and writes on leadership and empowerment. Her book, Secrets of A Strong Mind, is available on Amazon. Visit her blog, Empower the Leader In You, or follow her on Twitter.

We live in turbulent times. If you and I are to overcome the obstacles in our way, we’re going to need a strong mind.

Anticipating the Leap Off of the Trapeze Platform - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mtenniswood, Image #1106647

No matter the circumstances around us, we will need to rely upon the mental toughness we normally look for in our heroes, not in ourselves.We admire heroes like Robin Hood and James Bond because they embody the characteristics that we’ve valued throughout the ages. Heroes let us feel what it’s like to have the mental toughness to break out of our boring little existence and enter into a much bigger world—one that is full of possibility.

I define a strong mind as having a great capacity to face challenges. Being strong means having the resources, the mental skills, and the physical capabilities to confront difficulties of all kinds. When a person is strong-minded, they have the energy and stamina to face a challenge without being robbed of inner strength.

Mental toughness gives us the courage to grow from the stress we experience in life. It is a mindset comprised of several qualities and attitudes.

The Secret Ingredients

What secret ingredients do heroes possess? They have five elements:

  1. Confidence
  2. Courage
  3. Commitment
  4. Control
  5. Purpose

Well, maybe the characteristics of a hero aren’t so secret after all. But how can you and I harness their power and create the strong mind that is the trademark of those that live large in a world full of possibility?

If you are strong-minded, you express these attitudes and skills on a daily basis, no matter what is happening in your life. Some people may naturally be more mentally tough than others, but the good news is that you can learn to become even stronger.

Here are some tips to building a strong mind that I learned while in new agent’s class at the FBI Academy:

1. Confidence

When I took the physical fitness (FIT) test at the FBI Academy I was the 1 percent that makes the top 99 percent possible. I failed miserably, so my challenge became twofold: maintaining confidence in myself while training to pass the rigid FIT test.

My confidence plummeted. I worked with a coach at the Academy and he taught me the secret to building confidence—small steps.

By taking steps so tiny that they seem trivial, you can sail through obstacles that you never thought you could defeat. Slowly, you can cultivate an appreciation for the small improvements when they happen. Success builds upon itself, and slowly, it lays down a permanent route to change.

Small steps are concrete. Mountains are climbed one step at a time, not by giant leaps. We are less likely to feel out of control if we can locate the smaller problems within the larger situation. My coach encouraged me to acknowledge the small accomplishments and savor them before moving on to the next.

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


Everyone’s hell is different. I was scared—if I didn’t get pass the Academy’s physical fitness requirements, I wouldn’t become an FBI agent. I needed courage. My strength came from facing the reality of the obstacles in front of me and reaching deep within for the resolve to overcome them. My courage came from facing inward and developing a strong mind. I told myself:

  • Don’t run
  • Don’t panic
  • Face the situation
  • Believe you can do it
  • Fix it as soon as possible
  • Waiting would only make the situation worse
  • Now is the best time
  • I am the best person

The fear I felt did not weigh me down but deepened my resolve. A strong mind is not built on something that is slapped together on a shallow foundation. It needs solid rock—like a skyscraper, the higher you want to go, the deeper you must go.

TIP: Courage is the tendency to see life’s obstacles as challenges to be met rather than threats to be avoided.


In the deepest part of me I knew that I would make the FBI my career. It wasn’t 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 disciple comes from within.”

People are often unsuccessful because they lack commitment to their deepest values. Competence is not an inherited trait, like blue eyes. Competence is the result of working hard and concentrating on bringing about the desired result. No one succeeds overnight; failures do not happen overnight, either. A person who is fully committed can find a creative solution to almost any task.

As Jim Collins once said,

The best form of commitment comes from a single-minded passion for what they do and an unwavering desire for excellence in the way they think and work.”


To be in control means that, through personal struggle, you can find ways to empower yourself and influence both the direction and outcome of your own life. A strong mind shuts out feelings of fear and inadequacy and focuses on reaching the goal.

I learned a great deal about developing a strong mind in firearms. As a shooter, I employed many of the contemplation techniques I used in prayer; emptying my mind of extraneous thoughts and keeping my mind’s eye focused on one thing—the target. And then I narrowed the focus even further so my total concentration was on one thing—the thing immediately before me.

Once your mind is quiet, you can challenge the beliefs you hold about yourself that are false or can be changed. Athletes will not improve their performance unless they reach for the goal that is beyond their grasp. If you settle for mediocrity in yourself, that’s what you’re going to get, so don’t be surprised when your response is not what you had hoped it would be. Challenge the beliefs you hold about yourself and enlarge your territory.

TIP: Control is having a certainty that you are able to shape your destiny rather than passively accepting events as they come along.


I learned from my firearms instructors that if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. Live your life with a purpose. No matter how many major changes and transitions you go through in your life, if you rely upon guiding principles and values that are important to you, they will always give your life meaning.

Dr. Benjamin Mays said,

“The tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goals, the tragedy lies in not having any goals to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It’s not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideals, but it is a disaster to have no ideals to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach.”

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

The five elements of a strong mind are not only for heroes—they are for people like you and me, people who are struggling through the tough times, so we can savor the good ones. Toughness is in the spirit and soul, not the muscles. Building a strong mind is a lifelong task. It will not only pay off when obstacles are in your way, it will become habit, and eventually a part of your identify. Be Strong!

Questions: How do you approach difficult situations? What has been most helpful to you in developing a strong mind? How do you differentiate between hardheaded and strong-minded? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://chrisvonada.info/ chris vonada

    Perseverance, determination and persistence… you’ve nailed it again LaRae, love your writing and inspiration! 

    Interesting question posed… hardheaded vs. strong-minded. One good, one not so… maybe the answer lies in who or what are we serving? Maybe looking at our motivations will answer that one.

    • LaRae

      Hi Chris

      It’s always good to hear from you!

      The distinction between hardheaded vs strong minded is important. Hardheaded has a lot to do with attitude . . . “I am right and this is the way I’m doing things.” A strong mind, on the other hand, is not wrapped up in ego, is willing to change plans if their circumstances change, and embraces failure as a way of learning to become stronger.

      As always, love your comments.

  • Isaidel5

    I have learned to remind myself that I will win if I “faint not.” I remind myself that “quitting is not an option” no matter how difficult the situation seems.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Yes, and I am reminded of Paul’s exhortation to keep our eye on the goal as we persevere. Thanks for sharing, and reminding us that quitting is not an option!

  • annepeterson

    Strong-minded individuals persevere toward well thought-out purposes. They are determined to reach their goals, but still open to valuable feedback from reliable sources. They remain open-minded.

    Hard-headed individuals move toward their goals with determination, but if they are shown another route may be better, they will not consider it.  They are closed-minded.

    strong-minded individuals build their houses on rock
    hard-headed individuals build theirs on sand 

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Anne

      I love your distinction between hard-headed and strong minded! Brilliant! I couldn’t agree with you more, and you are right about strong minded people building their houses on rock . . . made to last!

  • jfelkins

    Love this post. That said, I struggle with the idea of control. We can control the story we tell ourselves about the events of our lives but we can’t control all of the events. Without controlling the events how do we control our destiny?

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      A great question. You are right – we cannot control our environment – despite our best intentions, plans fail. But when plans go awry, we can still control our response. Success is adapting to our changing circumstances. Success is landing on our feet when confronted with the unknown. This is how we can control our destiny even if we aren’t in control of events. 

      Unfortunately, so much of life is unpredictable . . . if it weren’t, we wouldn’t need the characteristics of a strong mind.

      • http://twitter.com/ThomasTJTrent Thomas (TJ) Trent

        So control in this aspect is more of an attitude issue? When we fail instead of saying woe is me you say this is what I did wrong and this is how I will succeed next time.

        Like my mentor John Maxwell says “You cannot control what happens to you but you can control what happens in you.”

  • Pboisvert1

    Thanks Mike. Every once and a while a topic appears that I really need to hear. This was one of them. Keep up the good fight.

  • LivewithFlair

    A great post today! I particularly love the courage tip because I feel nervous every single time I enter a college classroom to teach. When I remember that I’m the person to do this, I gain that mental toughness.  For me, I would add CREATIVITY to your list (for another C word!). When I face a problem, I like thinking that it’s just an opportunity for creativity. Blogging at Live with Flair has also helped me gain a certain mental toughness. Choosing a positive response to the day over these years has helped. There’s something about daily blogging that really shapes the mind!!  

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      There have been many times in my life when I needed creativity to adapt to changing environments! Often, when we refuse to accept defeat, we need to draw upon our creative side to figure out the answer to the problem that has been presented to us. Creativity + courage is a formidable force! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Paul J Mahler

    Thanks, Michael, and thanks LaRae, I think this was the best guest post I have seen.

    I can honestly say that there are times in my life when I have been hardheaded.  I’ve believed that my opinion or my way of doing something was best and I was unwilling to even listen to what someone else would say, even if that person had my best interest at heart.  Usually, when I am hardheaded, the results are not very good, to say the least!

    Strong minded, to me is much more about perseverance and humility.  Its saying that I am going to move forward towards my goal no matter what, and that I am willing to listen to others and admit when my ideas and attempts have been wrong. 

    I think some people get in trouble when they believe that admitting mistakes is a form of being weakminded or even weak in general.  Yet, in considering Jim Collin’s works and some of the best leaders over time, they were willing to admit failures and mistakes but kept pressing forward and in so doing proved themselves to be strong minded people. 


    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Paul

      You have a great understanding of the difference between hard-headed and strong minded . . . it is a matter of attitude, as you say. Strong minded folks understand that when plans fail, it wise to pinpoint what went wrong and identify what we can learn from failure. Failure is not something to be feared – failure can be a great teacher if we don’t let pride get in our way.

      As Michael Jordan said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.”

      Thanks for your comment!

  • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill


    This is great! My favorite of your list is purpose! I think a clear purpose, and a purpose we care about, gives us toughness and direction! It helps us with motivation and heart! I have lacked “mental toughness” in trying to live a more (planned out) healthy  lifestyle with daily exercise and eating well. I think this is a great reminder! Thank you!

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Barry

      What is it about healthy living with daily exercise and eating well? That’s on my list, too! We need to hold each other accountable . . . purpose is essential. If we don’t have that, we don’t have the motivation that gives us mental toughness.

  • Asha

    Very Interesting topic Michael. Very often our emotions get in the way of or enhance our ability to think and plan, to pursue our distant goal, to solve problems and the like. They define the limits of our capacity to use our innate mental abilities and so determine how we do in life. Thanks for pointing out how I need to train for the long races in life.

  • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

    One more thing I think this list is good for—how to remain mentally tough AFTER you mess up? Lot’s of people get discouraged after a mental mistake and throw in the towel. We can always tell our selves that “failure is not an option,” like mentioned in some of the comments below,  but the reality is that we all make mental toughness failures from time to time! So using a list like this to get out of a dark place mentally could be a good start for those of us who have made a mental mistake or two and need some help re-purposing our mental toughness!

    • Sue Morrow

       Great post!!

      And thank you, Barry.  I was mentally tough for 47 years, the last three I have been floundering. I look at the things I accomplished in my early 40s–and all I can think is, “where did that person go?” I made it through hit after hit of life circumstances, and this last one took the remainder of my “tough”.
      I am not whining, I am not blaming anyone–but that mental thing that was tough, broke. I am working on trying to rebuild my life once again. I am at the tragic point Dr. Mays was talking about–but there has to be a spark in there for me to even post this…I hope.

      If anyone has feedback, I need it.

      • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

        HI Sue

        It sounds as though you are in a “desert” period of your life. About ten years ago, I went through a real tough period that lasted quite a while. My mind was not strong; I went from being a leader of others to looking at myself as a victim of my circumstances. I could not focus on my goals and felt that every door I knocked on slammed shut in my face.

        The first thing I lost was confidence. Wow, once that was gone, I couldn’t find purpose, either. Courage, commitment, and control were now in the dust. 

        The only thing that I did not lose was faith. It is not included in this list because I believe faith is the structure upon the rest of our life is built. Because we have faith, we can build the characteristics of a strong mind. It is not a bad thing to start with small, slow steps as you move forward. 

        Something that worked for me: I started a journal. In it, I wrote down my previous experiences with mental toughness and how I used it to accomplish what I needed to do in life. It reminded me that I had done this thing before, and therefore had it in me to do it again.

        The best of luck!

  • Obaid

    Peace !

    The strong man is not the one who is strong in wrestling, but the one who controls himself in anger. 
    (Inspiring words from the Final Prophet of God ”Mohammad” peace be upon him)

    Dear Michael and all his readers,

    I suggest you all to read the biography of Mohammad pbuh who has influenced and won the love of billions of people in the world, we can surely learn from him a lot.
    People like Micheal H. Hart in his famous book The 100 ,a Ranking of the Most Influential Persons
    in History
    has placed MUHAMMAD pbuh as
    No. 1 when it came to influence & leadership !

    For free study material on Mohammad pbuh and his teachings, visit
    For excerpt from Micheal H. Hart books on Mohammad pbuh, visit

    Don’t forget to give your precious feedback/comment
    Take care, have a good day !

    Peace !

  • Bryan Miles

    Great post today! I needed to read this today. 

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Great! Thanks for the feedback . . . have a great day.

  • Cherry Odelberg

    Valuable information / reminders.  Thank you.

  • http://www.toddliles.com/ Todd Liles

    First I breathe. Most things afford us the time to strategize the outcome. Once I reach a conclusion, I act quickly. There is no sense in torturing yourself by delaying the action.

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

    This post came at a time when I realized I needed to let my mind be renewed. I printed it out and am going to make a Bible study out of it, possibly teach it in a class at church one Sunday. Perhaps this is something you’ve done already? Am looking forward to putting scripture with the points you discussed.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Kari

      The Bible is full of excellent examples of a strong mind! I used several in my book, Secrets of A Strong Mind. 

      I particularly like the way in which Joseph understood his purpose in life so well that he even dreamed about it. He never wavered from that vision, no matter his circumstances. His sense of purpose gave him confidence as he moved forward in life.

      David was determined and courageous. He looked at Goliath, broke the front line, and ran toward adversity! Too many times we look at adversity as something to be avoided, or as something that could defeat us. Not David.

      Another reader, Matt, suggested Gideon as an excellent example of a Biblical character who was strong minded – I absolutely agree! 

      If you think of others, let me know!

      • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

        Those are are excellent examples. I would add Daniel, Paul & Peter right away. I especially relate to Peter because we can see his growth and how his strong mind went from out of control to controlled by the Spirit.

  • Matt

    Good question. I was just reading the story of Gideon and believe that Gideon demonstrates this best. For Gideon being strong minded was acknowledging fear exists, but he only acted upon his convictions. A hard headed Gideon would not have had the ability to change his mindset when his army was trimmed.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Thanks, Matt. I love the idea of Gideon as an example of a strong mind from the Bible . . . the Bible is a goldmine of strong minded characters!

  • Martin

     Wow, this post was right ON TIME!  I’m a math instructor at a junior college and one of the biggest obstacles my students face is being able to mentally push past the things they can’t “see”.  With so many outside factors to influence their performance inside the classroom, I think it’s important to continue to hold every student to the same HIGH standards and educate them on not using an unfortunate circumstance as a crutch that will consume their lives, but using their situation to fuel their desire to further their education.  Thank you, I will be sharing this with each of my classes!!

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Martin,

      I feel honored that you’d share my post with your students! I totally agree with your philosophy of life . . . don’t use adversity or obstacles as a crutch that will consume their lives. These incidents were meant to empower us, not diminish us.

      Let me know how it goes!

    • Sue Morrow

      Getting good schoolwork turned in in a timely manner is of major importance to a student in building a strong mind.  Mentoring students in getting it done (their commitment to school) no matter what other commitments turn up (a big party they promised to go to), (and other more serious personal matters) is something that not enough teachers teach. This is the big difference between teaching and mentoring. Teaching gives you math, mentoring gives you life skills. Best. 

      • http://twitter.com/ThomasTJTrent Thomas (TJ) Trent


        Very well put!

  • http://twitter.com/quirkycity Heather C Button

    LaRae, I love your tips under courage. So many times I want to do the first 2, and am learning to step up to deal with the situation. Thanks for the timely reminder.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Thanks, Heather. I appreciate your comment. Good luck!

  • http://www.clayproductions.com/aaron/ Aaron Johnson

    What’s been most helpful in developing a strong mind? Lately, it’s been related to confidence, that whole dynamic of taking small steps. My tendency has been to be all or nothing; to dream of writing for 5 hours a day, but not doing it because “I don’t have the time.” Writing for 20 minutes was never an option in that all or nothing world.

    For the last few months, that 20 minutes a day has changed everything. Not only do I feel more in touch with my characters, and with my story, but I have a number of chapters finished. I’m now trying to apply the same approach to my workout and expect the same kind of returns.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Aaron

      LOVE your story! Thanks so much for sharing it. While it’s hard to prioritize the characteristics of a strong mind, confidence is essential. If that is not there, it’s very hard to move toward the others.

      Small, slow steps is the best way to overcome challenges, I think. Especially if there is a fear that needs to be overcome as well. Can’t wait to hear more about your book . . . I just published mine on kindle through Amazon. It’s a great way to get started and if you establish a following, it makes it easier to approach a publisher if you need to get their marketing folks behind you.

      Keep me posted!

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  • WilliamJerryGuthrie

    Michael; this is excellent material for people becoming highly successful. The ideas are Biblical. Men like Enoch that had the testimony, “He pleased God.” are examples of goals that are far out of man’s reach; yet they are attainable.
    Ruth was a kinsman redeemer to mankind because she followed her God in reaching her specific goals, and thus God was pleased as she became the heritage of Jesus Christ. Success to you. William Jerry Guthrie.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi William

      Great Biblical examples . . . thanks for sharing.

  • Cindy

    Love your post, LaRae.  My first thought was that my 18-year old boy should read this.  He is really struggling with a sense of self and finding confidence and purpose.  He could really relate to the lessons you create through sharing your FBI stories.
    You are a a wonderful and inspiring writer.  Keep up the good work!

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Cindy

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I truly appreciate them. Confidence and purpose and closely intertwined; once we find one, the other is not far away. The best of luck to your son – at 18, I wasn’t sure either . . .

  • http://www.StephanieBuckwalter.com/ Stephanie Buckwalter

    I always considered my self strong and a leader. My undoing was having a special needs child. I shifted into survival mode for a long time. I was unable to move out of that mode until another special needs parents reminded me that my daughter has a hope and a future. I was so focused on the circumstances of today that I became overwhelmed. Once I began looking to the future and praying for her future, I became strong again and could direct my steps each day toward that future where we are headed–come what may.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      What a story! I hope you can share that with others who feel overwhelmed by their circumstances. Many of us have gone through rough patches, and our gift to others is to share how we got through the tough times. My trick: I write down everything surrounding these times of growth so I can reach back for them when things get rough again. I have selective memory, and unless all of the emotion (good and bad) is written on paper, it tends to get watered down when I try to recall it at a later time.

      Congrats on finding light at the end of the tunnel!

  • Father Thomas Zell

    I once made the mistake of confusing hard headed with strong minded. Through bitter experience, I discovered that hard headed people often live in a delirious, egotistical world of black and white – a Shakespearean stage big enough for only one lead actor: Them!  They greet opposing viewpoints as a threat. They seek to surround themselves with mousy yes men – like the monopod’s in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – who’s only job is to say “Yes sir. That’s right sir. No one could have said it better than that!” I was once asked to develop a flow chart for such a leader. It was a turning point for me! When I showed my chart to him, he stated that every single one of those lines of responsibility needed to flow directly to HIM, rather than to or even through the many talented and bright individuals working for him.  No decision, no course of action, no detail was to go anywhere else but straight to the top. Talk about corporate gridlock!

    Not to sound patronizing, but I have learned a lot from being friends with Mike Hyatt over the years, and sitting under him in numerous meetings. Having come from my previous background, it was refreshing to find a person who while remaining firm and visionary, was not afraid to say “You know, I think you are right and I am wrong on this point. Let’s back up.” A vacillating person might say this because they were weak minded. A good leader would say it because they have the strength of mind to be humble and flexible, and to keep their eyes on the goal line. To me . . . that’s a leader! 

    Thomas Zell


    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      I totally agree with you. That’s a brilliant example.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thank you, Fr. Thomas. You are kind to say that. I have learned a lot from you and am so grateful for your friendship over the last two-and-a-half decades.

  • Mark

    Great tips Michael…Gracias. Cool to know you went through the FBI Academy.

    Of the five I always tell people you need the 4 C’s: Courage, Competence, Commitment, and Courage.  The world needs you in all these areas – Play Full on.
    Purpose is the foundation of Who and What we desire to Be, Do, and Become.

    I am learning that our mind plays a powerful role is how and what we relate to self and others (EQ) and our performance. As a man thinks in his heart, so he is. One can have all the opportunity & competence in the world but if they do not have a positive Attitude, in those crucial moments their true colors may show. In Think & Grow Rich, Hill, stated “It was not an abundance of specialized of generalized knowledge that led them to success, it was that they understood their Intellectual Faculties.”    

    I remember the saying, “Garbage in, garbage out”. There is much truth with that about our minds. Keep it filled positive, loving, caring, and abundant thoughts so that what comes out of our hearts is a reflection of those.

    Lead Yourself, & Multiply Others.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      This was actually a guest post by LaRae Quy, Mark. I didn’t go through the Academy—though that would have been really cool.

  • MatthewHexter

    Good stuff LaRae! Your reference to Seven Habits prompted me to pull out the book and start reading it with my 16 year old son. Thanks for the idea and nudge!

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      HI Matthew

      I loved the book by Stephen Covey, too, and am glad that it is as practical today as it was so many years ago.

  • Jim Martin

    LaRae, this is a great post!  (One that I will immediately clip and file in Evernote.)  In particular, I especially appreciated your comments regarding a strong mind.  Very helpful! 

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Jim

      Thanks for your comment, and appreciating the importance of a strong mind.

  • http://www.coachingreallyworks.com/ Abe S.

    I find that there is a borderline stubbornness in the persistence of those with a strong mind.

    There is a determination to deffer gratification to a later time in order to accomplish something more important now.

    I guess so much of it comes down to that control she mentions and to look past the immediate reactions of others and what they thinking to reach a for a worthy ideal or goal.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      HI Abe

      I agree that many folks mix stubbornness with persistence, but they are two different things. Stubbornness is a fixed mind set that believes it is right. Persistence is a dogged determination to keep reaching toward a goal, but it is not afraid to re-evaluate and looks at failure as further opportunity to learn. Thanks for bringing the difference to the attention of the readers.

  • ajhogan

    My best learning process for gaining confidence and mental strength was to understand failure.

    Failure is how we learn. Failure is how we gain strength in ourselves and our capabilities. Failure is how we mold ourselves as an individual.

    I know that may sound counterintuitive, but its how we deal with failure that paves the road to success.

    You eloquently laid out the exact steps needed to adopt individual failures and set backs and turn them into the the learning experience they need to be perceived as. And more importantly to understand that through success you build confidence. The confidence to take on larger challenges that produce bigger rewards.

    Excellent post.., well said!

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      I so agree with you! A strong mind is not afraid of failure, but today’s culture often does not have a healthy attitude toward failure. It is the road to success, however! Thomas Edison said he did not fail 10,000 times . . . he learned how to not invent a lightbulb 10,000 times.

      Thanks for your comment!

  • Pattycake

    Years ago I was the Queen of procrastination.  I was in a class where the teacher made strong demands on us.  I had to record my actions every minute of everyday for two weeks.  I was forced to be responsible for how I spent my time. 1.  We were to set short termed goals. To be accomplished that day.  2. Median goals.  One thing to  be accomplished that week  that did not have to be repeated.  3.  Long termed goals. Set the goal.  List  posts(steps) that I would need to take to get there.  4. Have a person to hold me accountable.  Doing this habitually developed a very strong mind.  It was life changing for me.  I still walk it 40 years later at 79 years.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Pattycake

      You are an inspiration to us all! Thanks for your contribution . . . it is invaluable.

  • http://michaellemme.wordpress.com/ Michael Lemme

    LaRae thanks for your post. Building confidence is a step by step process. I have seen in my own life too. Baby steps, right? Thanks again.

  • http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz/ Suzanne

    Yes I agree, having the toughness to withstand a trying time has a way of separating the strong from the less inclined.  Going through tough times makes us stronger and builds character. Love the part about goals – I usually set BIG goals and even if I don’t attain them, I still feel good about reaching for the stars. Thanks, Suzanne

  • Darlene Pawlik

    This is fantastic!  Great encouragement!  I talk to myself, a lot.  I use the Word of God as a compass.  The difference between a strong mind and hardheadedness is humility. 

  • http://www.livebeyondawesome.com/ Jen McDonough

    Jeepers creepers, what a awesome blog! Love that ordinary people CAN do this:”The five elements of a strong mind are not only for heroes—they are for people like you and me, people who are struggling through the tough times, so we can savor the good ones.”Excited to follow you on Twitter and will enjoy checking out your blog. I like your honestly on the struggles that can be faced on having a strong mind and loved your suggestions on overcoming those struggles.
    Live Beyond Awesome.
    Twitter: @TheIronJen:twitter 

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  • http://twitter.com/landrewchalmers Andrew Chalmers

    I really appreciate this post. Facing tough situations in the right manner and with perseverance to fight through is an ever growing process for me. In so many ways my tendency is to still back down and curse at the wind when I face obstacles but I am learning that by pushing through I grow stronger and stronger each time. The final point, Purpose, is something that has made the biggest impact in my own personal life. When I finally found my true Identity in Christ a few years ago I discovered true purpose for the very first time. Now it is the driving factor behind all that I do and Jesus inspires me to always continue fighting and striving for more!

  • http://twitter.com/landrewchalmers Andrew Chalmers

    I really appreciate this post. Facing tough situations in the right manner and with perseverance to fight through is an ever growing process for me. In so many ways my tendency is to still back down and curse at the wind when I face obstacles but I am learning that by pushing through I grow stronger and stronger each time. The final point, Purpose, is something that has made the biggest impact in my own personal life. When I finally found my true Identity in Christ a few years ago I discovered true purpose for the very first time. Now it is the driving factor behind all that I do and Jesus inspires me to always continue fighting and striving for more!

    • Jim Martin

      Andrew, you describe the challenge so well.  You make a good point.  It is so much easier to curse at the wind, the obstacles, the problems, etc.  than to push through.    You are right, pushing through really does leave a person stronger, even though it may not be immediately obvious.

  • retroman75

    If you change #5 “Purpose” to “Calling” you have a groovy 5C framework Michael :)

  • Jewlz122

    Interesting that heroes and villains both share those characteristics- the nature of the purpose changes everything. What is your purpose?

  • ChadMillerBlog

    LaRae, as always I feel I grow a little more after reading  one of your posts. Your insight is both inspiring and encouraging… not to mention challenging.
    I’ve been accused of being hard headed. As I’ve grown personally, learned from my mistakes and my successes, and matured, I’ve found that being hard headed is simply being selfish. When my purpose is not self-centered, I find my resolve in achieving my goals is much greater.
    Simply stated, focusing on others needs, rather than my wants, has strengthened my mental toughness. And, I’ve learned, you help enough people get what they need, ultimately, you get what you want.

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  • Carol Bates

    Purpose.  Making sure my purpose aligns with my deepest values is of utmost importance. 

    Enjoyed your blog. Thank you.

  • http://www.margaretfeinberg.com/ Margaret

    Hope you hit your fitness goals! We easily assume that FBI agents as tough and strong without needing to work at it–thanks for the behind the scenes picture!

  • Ava Oleson

    It is true that the secret to building confidence is small steps. Henry Ford said that no matter how huge a task is, it can be done by breaking things down into small parts. I learned that while writing my doctoral project. Some days I would be overwhelmed by the task. I taught myself that in those situations, I should sit down and write even just a phrase, or sentence. That sentence led to another idea and then another. Before I knew it, I had made significant progress! The skill of remaining “centered” is a skill I learned during my training as  Family Therapist. Remaining “centered” allows your energy to be spent in creative thinking and to focus on the next “small step”!

  • Ggladstone

    When I am failing at a goal, I try not to keep approaching the problem in the same manner. I step back where I can think and look at the bigger picture and often a different angle of attack will come to mind and I can then reach my goal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/barry.pearman Barry Pearman

    A few years ago I not knocked around a bit in my mind. I decided to blob out at the movies for a few hours and went to see Robin Hood. 

    There was a line in the Movie – Rise and Rise again. The full version of the quote is ‘Rise and Rise again like the Phoenix from the Ashes until the Lambs become Lions and The Rule of Darkness is no more’. – Maitreya the friend of all Souls 

    I now have this on a picture on my computer desktop. 

    Even in the toughest of times I will rise and rise again

  • intimacy

    Thank you LaRae, this is interesting. I would add “self efficacy.” Maybe that’s the same as confidence. I can remember being in a new and terrifying situation. I wasn’t sure I could handle it. But after some time I learned not only could I handle it, I could excel. From then on things seemed much easier.

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  • http://www.nathanmagnuson.com/ Nathan Magnuson

    LaRae, are you familiar with the new FBI leadership development program that Director Mueller mentions (below)? I got to be part of the consulting team that helped build it. The new leadership doctrine (similar to what Mark mentions below) are the “4 Cs” of character, courage, competence & collaboration. You may be on the guest speaker list for all I know :-)


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  • Geraldine Del Rosario

    I definitely agreed with these five key elements. We should have the Confidence, Courage, Commitment, Control & Purpose plus Faith in God. With these you are unstoppable in what your heart telling you to do.

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  • DebDeb

    This is such a great article, and I really needed to read this! I was let-go two days ago from my job two days ago for being, and I quote, “too strong-minded”. For two days I’ve been struggling with the thought, “what the heck is wrong with that?!” I am willing to see my part, but still cannot justify being fired. Neither can my manager, who was forced to fire me by the owner.

    On to bigger and better things!

  • tiger

    Great article
    Thanks for the inspirations
    I will put into action and see the result

  • itoocg

    You are awesome, you have great word power,

  • Devdas

    I ‘ll face difficult situation as a challenge . It is concentration, dedication,labor and commitment towards me and others in my family, may be a strong reason along with this that can help me to build strong mind ? It is the decision and believe on strong decision which has been taken that differentiate between strong and weak minded person. You you feel that this answer is correct ,just like it or provide suggestions.

  • Powerful Mind Secrets


    I got impressed by reading this post.Many best tips are given about the secrete of a sharp brain.

    Powerful Mind Secrets

  • fromfaraway

    Thank you for this valuable article I’m passing a hard time and I feel more confident now

  • Just me

    In my experience strong mindedness is often thought by many to be synonymous with being hardheaded…. it occurs to me that being hardheaded is different in that it defies fact(s) and/or reason while being strong minded respects facts and reason.