Stay The Course

As we finish up our look at success today I want to share one more thought on it, one last challenge and encouragement with you. One of the things that is awesome about the world we live in as well as challenging is how fast things happen, change, grow and evolve. I think one of the reasons we struggle so much with the changes that happen is because most of us haven’t developed the ability to change this fast physically or mentally. Some of us have gotten good at adapting to the constant changes, and even thrive with them, and others of us have worked really hard at backing off the fast path and are enjoying life in the slow lane.

But for most of us we’re in between these two extremes, we’re dealing with all the changes, but not as well as we could or should and thus we get frustrated and overwhelmed. Then when we add success aspirations to the mix we sometimes have to make the choice to deal with the changes in our life or the changes in the success journey because we can’t manage both. I get it, I’ve been there. It’s not easy to make the choice of which to deal with. But what if you didn’t have to choose between life or success?

The first thing you do is choose that you don’t have to be involved or check out or do every change. You don’t need to upgrade with every new phone on the market, you don’t need to join every social network, you don’t need to sell to everyone, you don’t need to try every product, you don’t need to do everything others want to do. You have to choose how much time you’re going to spend doing things, which people you’re going to spend your time with and what matters most to you. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but don’t feel that you have to try everything new.

The second thing you need to do is be persistent and stay the course. Sometimes the solution is to just keep working on things. Yes, some days you’ll give a little more attention and effort to your success efforts, but other days you’ll put the extra effort and attention to the life things. But countless leaders and successful individuals will tell you that they’re successful because they put one foot in front of the other and kept going. Day after day, story after story, action after action, effort after effort, you keep going.

Don’t give up on your success or the challenges you’ve had because you’re overwhelmed with changes, make the changes work for you, and take your time to work through the changes.

“We try to flee what troubles us, whether literally or figuratively, and God invites staying present… remain and find God here.” Br. Luke Ditewig

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Crossroads of Success

Life in general challenges us, so when it comes to success we often find that we’re more challenged than we want to be. If you’re struggling with life or success, know it may get worse before it gets better, but I know that God will be with you through whatever you go through. One of my favorite verses in Jeremiah showed up this week in my readings and it got me thinking about God’s timing in life. Take a peek:

“This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask where the old road is. Ask where the good road is, and walk on that road. If you do, you will find rest for yourselves…” Jeremiah 6:16

This verse is telling us a couple of important things about life and our success journey:

1-think through decisions
2-ask for help
3-take action

It may feel like you’re approaching a new crossroad every day, feel like you’re all turned around and confused, not able to find rest anywhere. I can empathize-I’ve been there many times myself, everyone has. So often it feels like we’re on a merry-go-round at these crossroads, just going in circles, not sure when to get off or where to go. Where do we find the clarity? How do we know which road to take?

Here are my suggestions:

1-realize what’s not working. Before you get anymore turned around, stop and take stock of your life. See where things are, what’s working for you and what needs to be let go.
2-consider where God has led you before. This has to do with your life purpose, the gifts God has given you and where you’ve found God’s presence strongest in your life before.
3-make a list of all possible roads. What ways could you go? Where could God lead you? Can you “map out” a plan for each idea? If you’re not feeling God strongly push you in one direction, and you can’t make a plan for the road, it’s probably not the way to go.

When it comes down to it, the best thing to remember is that each day is a new day, God is abundant in forgiveness, and there’s almost no mistake that’s too big to fix or learn from. Even if you go down the wrong path, God will give you opportunities to learn while on that path that will benefit you when you get on the right path. And above all else, don’t forget to ask God for his guidance. He’s the only one who really knows what’s going on and where you’re heading. He’s a big God, and is willing (make that jumping-up-and-down excited) to work with you on your life, both the big and the small. What will He show you today?

Grateful the Day After

Thanksgiving has passed, the turkey is carved, stuffing and pies have been eaten and you’ve possibly (probably) moved on quickly to grabbing those great Black Friday deals and decorating for the holidays. Are you still thinking about what you’re thankful for or have you moved on to celebrating Christmas? There’s nothing wrong with celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, but I’m not a fan of how quickly we always move on after a holiday. Whether it’s passing the turkey dinner leftovers off to your guests so you don’t have to eat it, or turning off the holiday music at 12:01 am the day after Christmas, it seems like we only have buildup and not any real time to appreciate.

Why are we willing to celebrate up to the holiday and not after? Is it because we have such a focus on the future and moving forward with our lives? I’d argue against that being the reason, or at least the only reason, because there are too many people who are stuck in or trapped by the past and can’t move forward. I do understand the excitement of looking to the future and what’s coming up like Valentine’s Day and summer. But for some things the moment they’re here isn’t really long enough.

I’d like Thanksgiving and Christmas to stick around a little longer than we let them because both represent and encourage values, practices and emotions that we don’t tap into as much or at all during the rest of the year. Some people do have a daily thanksgiving practice, but what about Christmas? What about that joy, peace, and goodwill to all mankind? I don’t think the days or weeks we spend in anticipation are really the same thing as the experience we have on the day of Christmas or Thanksgiving, or bringing that forward into what happens next in our lives.

So my encouragement to you today would be to work on tapping into that feeling of thanks and blessing that you experienced on Thanksgiving and bring it forward with you into December. Take time to appreciate the blessings in your life and the people who have blessed you over the past year, and choose love and peace whenever possible.

Thankful for Success

We have so much we can be thankful for in our lives! As we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US today I’m making my list of things I’m thankful for. And as I type those words and think about this blog post and other work I have to do, I’m reminded that it’s important to be thankful for success, and how thankful I am for the different successes in my life that I’ve experienced. Yes, we’ve talked about celebrating our victories, but that’s a little different. As much as giving thanks is a celebration, there’s also often a lot of humility involved as well.

Giving thanks for our successes means being honest about how difficult it was, seeing the failures and close calls for what they were, and feeling the relief that you’ve accomplished as much as you have. You can certainly share words of gratitude during your victory celebration or success party, but it’s not usually shared from a bragging perspective, but rather with a distinct down-to-earth feel.

As you take the time to reflect on your successes, the way this year has gone, and your dreams for the future, I encourage you to make time to be humble, grateful and honest about it all. Recognize what has gone right, create time to fix what went wrong and needs to be better in the future, get the support you need, and thank those who have played a crucial role in your success, whether they knew it or not.  What or who are you thankful for?

Finding Confidence in God

One of the biggest challenges to our lives and successes has to do with the fact that we’re sometimes insecure people, or lacking in confidence. Yes, each of us has little things that set us off or raise red flags and make us question, even if there is no need to question, even though we’re confident, strong people in every other area of our lives. Many of us have insecurities around whether we’re important or not, whether it’s at work, in a relationship or to our children. Whether we’re young or old, we sometimes feel that we’re not important, it’s unfortunately part of being human.

Ezekiel 37:14 says: “I will put My spirit in you, that you may live.”
Psalm 89:17 says: “You are their amazing strength. Their power comes from you.”
Jeremiah 31:25 says: “I will give rest and strength to those who are weak and tired.”

God gives us life, gives us the strength to become the best version of ourselves, and the encouragement to get through the times of doubt. This week, know that you do matter. Who you are, what you can do, your dreams, your goals, your hopes, your dreams, who and what you call home, these things all matter. To you, to me, and most importantly to God. He’s your biggest cheerleader and greatest coach, the voice of reason and little flame that spurs you on to do better.

If you’re struggling with confidence or feelings of insecurities, turn to God and ask Him to show you the confidence and strength that He revealed to so many leaders in the Bible who didn’t start out as amazing leaders. And don’t forget to tell someone this week that they matter to you, you may think they know, but they may not. Your vote of confidence in them and acknowledgement of their ability could be the encouragement they’ve been needing.

I Choose Gratitude

Sometimes the topic of being thankful comes up when we’re talking about lives that are cut short by tragedies or from people who are facing terminal illnesses. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact it’s great to finish out your days being thankful rather than being bitter about the wrench life has thrown at you. But for the rest of us who are fortunate enough not to know that our lives are ending soon, we sometimes forget to be thankful more than on Thanksgiving Day. So I thought I would share a bit of wisdom on the topic of being thankful for today, and encourage you to take just a few moments to read it slowly and really take in all that is being said.  Maybe Scott’s words will encourage you to be more thankful on a daily basis in your life.

“Today, I choose not to take my life for granted.

I choose not to look upon the fact that I am healthy, have food in my refrigerator and have clean water to drink as givens. They are not givens for so many people in our world. The fact that I am safe and (relatively) sane are not givens. That I was born into a family who loves me and into a country not ravaged by war are not givens. It is impossible to name all of the circumstances in my life I’ve taken for granted. All of the basic needs I’ve had met, all of the friendships and job opportunities and financial blessings and the list, truly, is endless. The fact that I am breathing is a miracle, one I too rarely stop to appreciate.

I’m stopping, right now, to be grateful for everything I am and everything I’ve been given. I’m stopping, right now, to be grateful for every pleasure and every pain that has contributed to the me who sits here and writes these words.

I am thankful for my life. This moment is a blessing. Each breath a gift. That I’ve been able to take so much for granted is a gift, too. But it’s not how I want to live—not when gratitude is an option, not when wonder and awe are choices.

I choose gratitude. I choose wonder. I choose awe. I choose everything that suggests I’m opening myself to the miraculous reality of simply being alive for one moment more.”
Scott Stabile

Can You Have Too Much Help?

I firmly believe that we rarely achieve success without at least one other person being involved and helping us along the way. Maybe that person is the stranger who built the website technology you used to create your website for your business. Maybe that person is your partner who encourages you to get up and exercise every day. Maybe it’s the truck driver who delivers the supplies to your store after hours. I think it’s great when we’re brave enough to ask for help, but can it go too far? Can we get too much help?

I think that in order to really achieve success personally we have to be involved in the success process. I don’t think you can really hand it all of to your people or your team and call it a win for you personally when you didn’t do anything (this would be an example of a team win). And you can’t call it a win at all when all you do is hand stuff off to others so you don’t have to deal with it and don’t take up the responsibilities that you should be handling instead.

What we’re talking about here is delegating vs abdicating.  The difference between delegating and abdicating or abandoning is that when you delegate you do so with the express purpose of giving a task to someone better equipped to do it or because your time and effort are much better spent doing other things.  Abdicating and abandoning means that you’re either giving up, paralyzed with fear or so overwhelmed you can’t do what you should or could be doing, and so you do nothing.

I’m all for delegating when it comes to success, I don’t know that anyone is truly capable of doing everything for themselves all the time, especially if you want to live in the world that we do (and not be a farmer who lives off the grid and doesn’t really interact with society). But delegating becomes an issue when you’re using the delegation to avoid doing anything. Then not only are you not having successes, the people in your life are probably also not having successes, and they’re possibly getting frustrated with you.

As you finish off this week I encourage you to take a moment and think about the responsibilities in your life and whether you’re living up to them or not.  Victory may be just a few commitments and actions away.