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Posts Tagged ‘success’

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“Success is a journey, not a destination.”

–Arthur Ashe

Too often we think of success as the final, glorious outcome of endeavor. But achieving a goal requires the successful completion of many steps along the way, some of which are slippery, steep, and uneven.  As time passes and difficulties mount, hopelessness can hold us back.

However, history is full of examples of people who persevered in spite of great difficulty, even failure. They didn’t allow tumbles and trip-ups to stop them. They maintained their optimism and effort toward the goal.  Prime examples include:  Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, and Winston Churchill.

“Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

–Winston Churchill

Another prime example is Thomas Edison. You might remember he tested over 6000 materials for the filament of his electric light bulb, and performed 1200 experiments before reaching ultimate success.

Once the invention had been released, a reporter asked Mr. Edison, “How did it feel to fail over a 1000 times?”

The inventor replied, “Young man, I did not fail 1000 times. I simply found 1000 ways how not to create a light bulb.”

Edison had learned to celebrate progress, not just the end result.

We, too, can learn to celebrate the steps toward our God-ordained, individual goals, not just the finish line.

And what are the steps worth celebrating? Here are a few:

  1. Making good choices, even in small things (Luke 16:10).

Doing little things with a strong desire to please God

makes them really great.”

–St Francis De Sales 

  1. Maintaining a positive attitude (Colossians 3:23-24).

Feed your hope with positive expectancy.

Instead of wondering, Why isn’t God doing anything?

Ask, I wonder what God will do next?

  1. Exercising self-control (Galatians 5:23).

“You must do the very thing you think you cannot do.”

–Eleanor Roosevelt

  1. Applying wisdom (Proverbs 19:8).

“Wisdom is the means by which the godly can both

discern and carry out the will of God.”

–Douglas Moo 

  1. Striving for humility (Proverbs 22:4).

“I believe that the first test of a truly great man is his humility…

Really great men have a curious feeling

that the greatness is not of them, but through them…

And [they] are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful.”

–John Ruskin 

  1. Overcoming disappointment and failure (Psalm 37:23-24).

“Discouragement and failure

are two of the surest

stepping-stones to success.”

–Dale Carnegie

Too often we’re sidelined by our failures—even the little ones. We have to remember: success has nothing to do with immunity to failure.

“Success is getting up just one more time than you fall.”

–Oliver Goldsmith.

So! I’ve devised a little questionnaire, to help us appreciate our steps of success:

  • Did we accomplish one task today, leading toward our God-ordained goals, even though we didn’t want to do it?
  • Did we thank God for even one blessing today? Gratitude takes our minds off the way we’d like things to be and refocuses our attention on what God has already provided.
  • Was there at least one small thing we chose not to do, in order to apply our time and energy on the goals set before us?
  • Did we apply a bit of wisdom today that kept us on the path of success?
  • Did we demonstrate genuine interest in someone else without even thinking about ourselves at all? That’s C.S. Lewis’s definition of true humility.
  • Did we encourage ourselves with words or action, in order to press on?

Success is found on the path of most persistence.

So, let’s celebrate progress–those moments, those steps, that are leading us toward God’s call on each of our lives.

And if progress is slow, let’s not lose heart.  Most progress is slow.  God rarely rushes in with a delivery of instant success.

Let’s all take a deep breath and affirm:  God isn’t finished with us yet. He’s still working, still guiding, still engineering circumstances for the personal goals he has ordained for each of us.

That doesn’t mean we sit back and wait for God to achieve our success for us.  It’s a matter of balance.  We must trust him as if everything depended on him, and work as if everything depended on us (Living Application Bible note, Proverbs 16:3).

(Photo credit:  www.hikingtohealthy.com)

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What steps to success would you add?

And, how do you celebrate the successful steps along the way?

Please join the conversation below! 

  

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(Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill)

 

The annals of history are filled with failures.  Consider:

Example #1: A.’s parents may have felt like failures when their son did not speak until age four and did not read until he was seven. Later they faced the embarrassment of his expulsion from school.

But surely his parents must have breathed a sigh of relief when A. was finally admitted to a university–only to be discouraged again when a professor called him a lazy dog! Who was this disappointing failure of a son? Albert Einstein.

Example #2: As a young man, W. worked for a newspaper, but not for long. His editor told him he lacked imagination and had no good ideas. In the coming years he started a number of short-lived enterprises that ended in bankruptcy. The name of this business failure? Walt Disney.

Example#3: M. was set up for failure. Jealous competitors convinced an employer to assign him a difficult, time-consuming project, outside M.’s area of expertise. It was a sure-fire plan to keep him busy, ruin his reputation, and be rid of him.

The employer? Pope Junius II. The person set up for failure? Michelangelo. The project was the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Michelangelo had no experience with fresco painting. In addition to tackling a new medium, he had to paint upside down on a curved surface. It took him four years to complete the project.

But. Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), painter, writer, and historian said, “The whole world came running when the vault was revealed, and the sight of it was enough to reduce them to stunned silence.”  I’ll bet his competitors were among them!

As I seek to put myself in the place of each of these individuals, I sense their disappointment, embarrassment, and frustration. Failure is painful! It damages our dignity and destroys our morale.

Simply put, failure feels bad…

…but that’s good!

Defeats push us to refocus and redirect. And with God’s help, those two steps can bring us to peace in spite of failure, and hope for a future of contentment.  Our relationship with God is deepened; our character is strengthened.

Care to join me in a closer look at those two verbs, refocus and redirect?

Refocus by turning our attention upward—not backward. Dwelling on the disappointments of the past is counterproductive.

As soon as we realize negativity has moved in, we must refocus our thoughts on gratitude for God’s gifts and praise for his attributes. (If my past experience is any indication, we may have to do this frequently. The enemy does not give up easily!)

But when we fill our hearts and minds with faith-statements, peace, encouragement and hope have a chance to flourish.

Redirect  our energy. God gives us our marching orders in Psalm 37. Again, note the verbs.

Trust in the Lord and do goodDelight yourself in the Lord…Commit your way to the Lord…Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…Do not fret—it leads only to evil (Psalm 37:3-8).

And all the while we can remind ourselves, God specializes in providing…

  • Strength for the weary and power for the weak
  • Light in place of darkness
  • New ways out of a wasteland
  • Comfort for the afflicted
  • Gladness and joy after sorrow and sighing
  • Beauty out of ashes

(Isaiah 40:28-29; 42:16; 43:19; 49:13; 51:11; 61:3)

 

Thank God he also provides what Winston Churchill (at the beginning of the post) says counts the most:   the courage to continue.

 

(Photo and quote credit:  www.ebay.co.uk.com.)

 

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“Take up one idea.  Make that one idea your life — think of it, dream of it, live on that idea.  Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone.  This is the way to success” — Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902).

Ever have a boss who seemed guided by this philosophy? He may not be familiar with the person who wrote these words (Swami was a Hindu monk.), but the same principles influence his decisions.

 

This kind of boss expects employees to work long hours to achieve his personal goals.  Ideas from others are not well accepted, because he is, after all, the expert.  He’s read all the books on management theory, marketing strategies, and profit maximization.  Suggestions are superfluous.

But, there is a new form of executive leadership garnering attention.  September’s issue of Sky Magazine ran an article, “The Enlightened Leader,” that highlights this innovative leadership model.   Workshops, webinars, even courses are available for training.

Included in the curriculum are these four topics:  1) Character , 2) Purpose, 3) Integrity, and 4) Values.

How ironic that business experts are returning to such ancient principles–Biblical principles.  For example:

1) A person of character is trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, and caring.  Someone with character pursues righteousness and love; then he finds life, prosperity, and honor (Proverbs 21:21).

2) A person of worthwhile purpose is not focused on the bottom line of the financial spreadsheet.  He/she takes to heart Paul’s advice:  “Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top.  Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.  Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage.  Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand” (Philippians 2:3-4, The Message).

3) A person of integrity walks securely (Proverbs 10:9).  He’s not wishy-washy, making decisions based on what’s expedient for the moment.  “The integrity of the upright guides them” (Proverbs 11:3) to be wise and caring.

4) A person with moral values lives by an ethical code of behavior, summed up by Jesus in the Golden Rule.  “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).

It’s tempting to respond with a smug comment like, “It’s about time the experts came around to God’s way of handling business!”  Except…

…I still have character traits that need refinement.

…I do not live up to God’s purpose for me each day.

…Integrity still needs further development in my life.

…My choices do not always reflect my values.

It doesn’t matter if I am a leader of a large organization or a leader in my home.    I am called to have a positive effect within my circle of influence (Matthew 6:13-16).  And that circle is surprisingly wide when I include extended family, friends, neighbors, business associates, church acquaintances, etc.  In fact…

“…Sociologists say that even introverted people will influence an average of 10,000 people in their lifetime” (The Maxwell Leadership Bible by Dr. John C. Maxwell, p. x).

So what’s the first step toward success?

Perhaps commitment—commitment to God as a willing student in his course of leadership.  Commitment to prayer throughout the day, as choices present themselves.  And commitment to persevere toward wisdom, because:

“Blessed is the man who listens to me [wisdom], watching daily at my doors…For whoever find me finds life and receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 8:34-35).

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Thank You, Father, for the absolute truth of your word.  New ideas come and go, but your wisdom that leads us to success never fails.  Forgive me for the times I have ignored your word.  I want to be a woman of godly character, fulfilling your purpose with integrity, and reflecting your values.  That’s the kind of success that will provide lasting satisfaction and fulfillment in my soul.  Thank you for continuing to work on me.  Amen. 

(photo & art credits:  www.signsforyourlife.com, http://www.averyemployment.com, macondesigns.wordpress.com, http://www.signsforyourlife.com, calcuttaherald.wordpress.com.)

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