Our principles are the springs of our actions; our actions, the springs of our happiness or misery. Too much care, therefore, cannot be taken in forming our principles. – Skelton
Ever feel slightly scattered? Do you have days when you run in twenty different directions, yet never seem to accomplish anything on your To Do list? Between the distractions on our cell phones, interruptions of the unexpected and overloaded schedules, most of us find it difficult to simply move from Point A to Point B of our daily agendas.
One way to help us stay focused and on task is to apply what I call the “Principle of Three.” Generally speaking, our brains find it easier to remember things in threes. In writing, the “Rule of Three,” suggests that a trio of three characters or events are more satisfying, effective and even funnier than other numbers (The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, Three Blind Mice). And of course, every preacher knows the power of a 3-point sermon. The Principle of Three is seen throughout nature: three primary colors, three parts of a human (body, mind and spirit) and three beings in the Trinity (Father, Son, Spirit).
If we apply the Principle of Three to our daily lives it can help us narrow our focus, build on the essentials and reduce the distractions. Here’s a few ways to put it into practice:
- Write out your To Do List each morning (some prefer to write it out the night before), then choose 3 priorities from the list. What 3 things are essential to accomplish for the day? Use a highlighter to designate your top 3 priorities and work steadily to accomplish them. With a focus of 3, you are more likely to remember and accomplish the essentials for each day.
- Instead of writing yearly goals that fizzle by March, consider creating a list of 3 objectives that you want to accomplish in the next 3 months. Having a quarterly focus will allow you to stay on target and keep your aim in sight.
- For each of your quarterly objectives, write out 3 doable action steps. For example, if one of your objectives is to lose 5 pounds, you may want to list your action steps as:
- Exercise 5 days a week
- Cut out sugar and white flour from diet
- Eat before 6:30 pm every night
There are many other ways to apply the Principle of Three to your personal life. Start each day with this combination of 3: pray, read, and count your blessings. You will find that your perspective is clearer and your outlook on life is brighter.
In what ways can you apply the Principle of Three to your daily routine?
Contact Karol to speak to your group on the “Principle of Three” – firstname.lastname@example.org
Would you consider yourself mentally tough? In other words, are you able to push forward despite setbacks, disappointments and mistakes? I believe the potential is within us to strengthen our mental resolve and develop a mindset that allows us to take positive steps forward, especially when the going gets tough.
When the tragedy of 911 occurred in this nation, the US Military needed to train additional Navy SEALS, but they had one problem. Although many recruits began the grueling program, only a small percentage actually made it all the way through, as many quit before completion. Of course the Navy did not want to change the challenging standards to become a SEAL, so they explored what they needed to do to help more recruits complete the strenuous program.
They began to examine the common denominators of those who have grit – the quality to be able push through obstacles even when they felt like giving up. One of the basic factors they found was mental toughness and positive self-talk. Telling yourself, I can do this, rather than thinking, I’m not cut out for this, is one of the keys to getting through the most demanding circumstances. As the Navy began to apply this research, equipping their recruits with mental tools to help them rise up to their obstacles, their passing rates increased by ten percent.*
Negative and defeating thoughts can easily pop into our minds, especially when things don’t go as planned. One way we can turn our self-talk in a positive direction is to memorize certain phrases to repeat to ourselves, especially when we feel like throwing in the towel and quitting.
As a successful businessman, my dad kept a 3 by 5 card in his pocket to pull out at times when he needed an encouraging reminder. Here’s what was written on his card:
- I can do this!
- If it is to be, it is up to me.
- Every day in every way, I am getting better and better.
- God is the strength of my life.
- The harder I work, the better I get.
Whether you choose a famous quote, a scripture or an encouraging phrase, fill your mind with what is true, noble and admirable. We can’t always choose our circumstances, but we can choose our focus. Know what is important to you and where you want to go in life. Remember you are not alone. Be willing to invest the time, strength and mental grit to overcome obstacles and reach toward your dreams.
Check out Karol’s book, Positive Leadership Principles for Women for more inspiration and encouragement.
*Eric Barker, Barking Up the Wrong Tree (New York, NY: Harper One, 2017) p. 63.
Many years ago I coached high school track. One important lesson I taught to my sprinters was to keep their eyes on the finish line. If a sprinter takes even a second to glance at the runners on either side of her – she’s lost the race. In running as well as in life, we must learn to keep our eyes on the race we are running and not become distracted by comparing ourselves with others. Easier said than done, right? As women, we so quickly begin to compare with the other women around us. All it takes is a quick glance at Instagram and our mind starts rolling. She’s prettier, she’s better, she does it all, I’m a nobody, I’m a failure….
It’s a trap we can easily stumble into, and in the process we become dissatisfied with who we are and what God has planned for us. We tend to lose sight of what our purpose is in life. Perhaps that’s why the apostle Paul, with his powerfully purpose-filled life, was able to say, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God is calling me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Just as a sprinter keeps her eye on the goal or the finish line, so we need to keep our eyes fixed on the purpose God has given us and not be distracted by envy, jealousy or comparisons. True maturity is when we can look with joy at how God is blessing others and sincerely be thankful for the way God uses each one of us in a variety ways and in different styles.
There is only one you. God made you with a unique set of gifts and talents and with a distinctive purpose in this world. When we keep our eyes on the fact that God is at work in and through us to accomplish what He put us on this earth to do, we begin to feel a joyful confidence. We can rejoice in our assignment in the big scheme of life. On the other hand, when we start looking at everyone else and begin to compare ourselves with others, we either become prideful or we become jealous. Comparisons tend to zap us of our strength, distract us from our purpose and throw us off course from our goals.
Positive Life Strategy
Positive Truth: God has a unique plan for each one of us which He carries out
using the gifs and talents He has given us.
Plan of Action:
- Guard your mind against comparing with others by turning your focus upwards.
- Ask for God’s help and direction as you use your unique gifts and talents.
- Open your eyes to the blessings that God has given you right now.
- Thank Him for His unique plan for your life every day.
- Rejoice in who the Lord is and the work He is doing in your life as well as in others.
- Be happy with others for the good things happening in their lives.
Pay it Forward
Celebrate someone else’s success by letting them know that you are rejoicing with them. Write them a note, bring them flowers or do something kind for them as you give thanks for the wonderful and unique plan God has for their life. Consider someone who has recently experienced a blessing in their life, whether an achievement, an honor or a promotion. Maybe it is someone who has just gotten married or had a new baby. You may even want to consider someone who has sparked a slight bit of jealousy in your mind. Determine to be truly happy for them and honor them for the good that has come to them.
This is an excerpt from Positive Life Principles for Women
Our challenges often prepare us for leadership and develop in us a sense of courage, strength and perseverance. Take Mary Crowley, founder of Home Interiors & Gifts, for example. She is considered one of premiere business women in Dallas, Texas. Her life was not an easy journey, but she as a woman with a firm faith in God, she grew and learned through each struggle in her life.
Married in 1932 and with children coming soon after, she and her husband struggled to survive through the Depression. Mary realized that if she was going to be able to feed her family, she would need to find a job. Although jobs were scarce at the time, especially for women, Mary chose a store she wanted to work in, dressed up and armed herself with a confident smile, walked in the doors of the store and got the job!
Without realizing it at the time, this job enabled Mary to develop a shrewd business sense that later prepared her to become head of a multimillion dollar company. Sadly, her marriage crumbled in 1939. She began studying to be a CPA and worked full time at an insurance company. Additionally, Mary suffered from insomnia, yet she turned her problems over to God. She used to pray, “Lord, you know I’ve got to get my rest. You worry about these problems. You’re going to be up all night anyway.” She would then go to sleep, leaving her problems in God’s hands. Her faith in God never wavered, and she found her confidence and strength in Him during those lean years.
In 1948 she married David Crowley, Jr. whom she had met at the insurance company. As a newlywed, Mary wanted to make her home as attractive as she could, despite her limited funds. She took a job as an accountant in a furniture company, and soon she began to notice that as people came to buy furniture, they had no idea how to accessorize their new furniture. Ideas began to dance around in her mind as to how she could help these people, but she also longed to be home with her children. In God’s way and in His timing, He began to put it all together. Several years later, a man who imported gifts and decorative accessories, asked Mary to become his sales manager in a new direct-sales company.
After working with this company for only three years, Mary’s staff had increased to five hundred women selling accessories through home parties. Sounds like a Joseph-type success, doesn’t it? The owner was pleased with the success, but he decided to add cocktail parties into the company functions, and he put limits on the commissions the sales women could make. Mary told him she didn’t agree with these conditions, so he sent her the office furniture that belonged to her and he was done with her position. Mary grieved the loss of being tossed off of that mountain, but she trusted God and knew He had a plan.
It was then that she birthed her own company, Home Interiors & Gifts. Mary followed God’s leading, and she gave Him credit for the success of her company. She knew that it was God who opened the doors, but it was her responsibility to walk through them. Mary’s desire was to help woman and minister to their needs. Many of the women who became a part of her team had never held jobs before and even needed help with their appearance.
Soon Mary’s company was helping women both personally and financially, paying dividends and bonuses. The business continued to grow and in 1962, the sales force recorded one million dollars in sales. Sadly, it was the same year she was diagnosed with cancer. She ended up fighting two bouts (mountains if you will) of cancer, but continued to fight on and bless many women in the process.
Mary was one of the first women to serve on the board of directors of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. She received two honorary doctorate degrees before her death in 1986.[i] Today, the Mary Crowley Cancer Research Centers in Dallas provide hope to cancer patients by expanding treatment options through investigational vaccine, gene and cellular therapies. Despite the setbacks Mary faced, God used her perseverance and creativity to inspire women and bring hope to generations of cancer patients as well.
What can we learn from her story?
- Embrace the mountains in front of you and see them as opportunities for growth.
- Don’t blame others or make excuses.
- Do your work with excellence and integrity.
- Be faithful in the small tasks.
- Always ask, “Lord what do you want me to learn here?”
- Keep your eyes on God’s plan for you.
- What mountain are you currently facing in your leadership role?
- What is God teaching you personally through this challenge?
- How can you thank God specifically for this mountain?
This is an excerpt from Positive Leadership Principles for Women
[i] Mary Trotter Kion, http://www.historyswomen.com/1stWomen/MaryCrowley.html
Sometimes life hits hard. Circumstances can take a downturn. Frustrations may seem overwhelming. People may be cruel and hurtful. How do we handle the disappointments and devastations? Is it possible to birth something hopeful, when all we can see is our pain?
Being positive doesn’t mean we ignore the pain, but it does mean after we grieve the loss, we ask the question, “How can I grow or learn or make something good come out of this?”
Helen Keller showed us what it looks like to overcome the negatives. Born in 1880, a severe illness left her unable to see or hear. Yet through the patient and persistent instruction of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, Helen learned to read, write and speak. She didn’t stop there! She went on to study French and Greek at Radcliffe College. At the age of 26, she published her life story and became a well-known public figure and humanitarian, speaking in over twenty-five countries throughout the world. Her life and story has inspired countless millions to turn life’s challenges into possibilities.
She wrote, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” Certainly her incredible accomplishments epitomize human potential in the face of adversity.
It’s not what happens to us that define us, it’s what we do with it that matters. Let’s be willing to change our focus. Let’s be creative and look for ways to make the best out of the worst. May each of us find hope in unlikely places.
Read more in The Power of a Positive Woman.