Learn From Your Mistakes

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When we walk in a room and switch on a light, we can be thankful for an unlikely genius named Thomas Edison. We can be grateful for moving pictures and audio recordings as a result of this one man’s perseverance. With very little formal schooling, and numerous mishaps and failures, few people expected young Thomas Alva Edison to amount to anything at all. As a curious boy, he burned down the family stable. As a young man, he lost his job as a newspaper salesman on a train because he nearly blew up one of the train cars with his experiments. As an ambitious entrepreneur and inventor, one of his first inventions turned out to be a colossal commercial failure. Yet he looked at each failure as an opportunity to learn and grow and discover new things.

Edison had a unique drive and perseverance that kept him learning and growing despite his failures and mistakes. He didn’t allow discouragements to linger, rather he pushed forward with curiosity and commitment. And aren’t we thankful? On the 50th anniversary of the electric light bulb, Henry Ford organized a celebration of his dear friend Edison. President Herbert Hoover spoke about the variety of ways that the electric light had made life better, “It enables our towns and cities to clothe themselves in gaiety by night, no matter how sad their appearance may be by day. And by all its multiple uses it has lengthened the hours of our active lives, decreased our fears, replaced the dark with good cheer, increased our safety, decreased our toil, and enabled us to read the type in the telephone book.”*

The light bulb represent countless hours in the laboratory filled with failed experiments and frustrations. When asked by a reporter with the New York Times about the seemingly incredible difficulties associated with developing the light bulb, Edison responded, “I have not failed 700 times. I’ve succeeded in proving 700 ways how not to build a light bulb.” What an extraordinary perspective! Can we look at our mistakes as successes, or are we so caught up in the disappointments and frustrations that we can’t see the positive aspects of our failures? Let’s determine to look at life with and attitude that includes the joy of learning and the opportunity to discover the lesson behind each challenge and mistake.

*Herbert Hoover: “Address on the 50th Anniversary of Thomas Edison’s Invention of the Incandescent Electric Lamp.,” October 21, 1929.

This is an excerpt from my book, Positive Leadership Principles for Women

Lead Photo by Diz Play on Unsplash

The Power of Team

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The winter Olympic events are always spectacular to watch, but this year something else caught my eye – the Norwegian Ski Team. Although they compete in mostly individual sports, they move, practice and live as a bonded team. They provide an unique example of the power of camaraderie and the beauty of selflessly working together.

 

The New York times called the Norwegian team “a contrarian mix of humility, egalitarianism and basic respect.” In a society that tends to be all about self – the Norwegian team is an inspiring example of thinking of others. At this point, Norway leads the world in gold medals and overall medals.

 

One of Norway’s gold medalist in men’s team ski-jumping, Robert Johansson said, “I really like the team competitions. I think we’re really good friends, travelling a lot of days during the year together.”  The team shares meals with one another and spend about 250 days together every year. That’s a lot of togetherness!

 

There’s an incalculable strength that comes from the bond of a team. Cheering one another on and going the extra mile to help another person succeed is true teamwork. Teams strengthen one another and hold each other accountable. When you are a part of a team, you are working for something much bigger than yourself – you don’t want to let your fellow team mates down.

 

An old African proverbs says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

 

The apostle Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” That’s true teamwork!

 

Think about ways that you tend to try to achieve on your own. Are there people God has placed in your life with whom you can join together and encourage? How can the power of a team transform the work He has called you to do?

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Never Underestimate Your Influence

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Henrietta Mears saw the best in the people God placed in her life. Although at an early age her physical eyesight began to deteriorate leading to eventual blindness, her insight into God’s word and talent of seeing the potential in others grew in strength throughout her life.  Born in 1890, Henrietta loved God’s word from an early age.  She constantly begged her parents to let her go to the adult Sunday School classes at her church, so she could learn deeper truths about the Bible. She taught her first Sunday school class at eleven years old.  When Henrietta graduated from high school her eye doctor warned her that she should not seek further education as it would strain what little eyesight she had left.

Henrietta didn’t let the doctor’s orders stop her as she was determined to use her eyesight until it went out. She did her best to listen in class in order to reduce her need for reading. When she graduated from college she went on to teach high school chemistry, but her first love was teaching the Bible at her church.  Her classes grew and grew in size as she taught God’s word with creativity and accuracy.  Eventually she was invited to be the Christian Education Director at a Presbyterian church in Hollywood, California. She accepted the position and immediately began to write new curriculum to replace the old dull lesson she was provided.  She wrote Sunday School lessons for first through twelfth grades which led her to eventually start a publishing company called Gospel Light Publishers.

College students were her first love and she faithfully taught their class every year. The students loved her because she taught such fun, quirky and creative lessons. Henrietta sincerely loved her students and helped them dream big dreams and catch the vision of what God could do in their lives. Hundreds of her students went on to full time Christian ministry including Bill Bright who founded Campus Crusade ministries. Henrietta planted many seeds which God watered and grew into great and fruitful trees. She started a youth camp in California which is now known as Forest Home Conference Center.

One year Henrietta invited a young evangelist to preach to the kids at Forest Home camp.  This young preacher was struggling with what he believed about the inerrancy of the Bible.  Henrietta talked with him and prayed with him. Most importantly she didn’t give up on him, recognizing that God was doing a great work in this young man’s life, knowing God would carry it out to completion. The preacher took a long walk in the forest and then got down on his knees declaring to God that he would stand on the Bible as God’s truth even if it didn’t all make sense to him. Young Billy came back that evening to preach one of the most powerful sermons Henrietta had ever heard.  Many kids came to trust Christ that very night. Billy Graham went on to preach his first crusade soon after his experience at Forest Home.

Billy Graham said that Henrietta Mears was one of the most influential women in his life besides his own mother and his wife.  Aren’t you glad that Henrietta saw her students as works in progress? She didn’t give up on them. She didn’t focus on their faults, rather she poured into them and nurtured them in the Lord.  She reminds me of Paul. Henrietta wasn’t imprisoned by being chained to a guard, but she was imprisoned by her physical blindness. Yet just like Paul, she didn’t let her challenges keep her from building up others and encouraging them to be all that God wanted them to be.  She looked for the potential and not the problems.

 

This is an excerpt from A Woman’s Passionate Pursuit of God.  Click Here for More Info.

It Only Takes a Spark

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Many of us remember when we were teenagers, sitting around the campfire singing, “It only takes a spark, to get a fire going. And soon all those around, can warm up to it’s glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love…”

Just the thought of that song revives fond memories with my church friends at Mt. Lebanon and with my campers when I was a counselor at Pine Cove.

Recently, I read an article on the topic of leadership that made that old familiar camp song pop back into my mind. The author, Sean Lynch, used the word “Sparks” to describe people who exhibit behaviors consistent with a leader. He wrote, “A Spark is a doer, thinker and innovator whose unique approach to creative problem-solving betters the lives of others.”

I believe that each of us, whether we think of ourselves as leaders or not, have the opportunity to influence others. We can be Sparks by using the gifts and talents God has given us to share the hope and love of Christ. We “better the lives of others” by shining His light into their lives.

The question is, do we let His love shine through us through our words and actions, or do we hide it, afraid of what people may think? Or worse yet, do we spend most of our time putting down others?  Let’s be bright sparks. Let’s love boldly. Let’s stop criticizing, and let’s start letting His love shine through our words and actions to help build up others and point them to Christ.

May God use each one of us this week to bring His light to dark places.

 

If you want to explore more on leadership check out Positive Leadership Principles for Women on sale now for $5! Click Here for more info.

Facing the Mountains in Your Life

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When I was in high school, my mother took me to a lecture presented by Sir Edmund Hillary. I must admit, at the time I was not overly excited about hearing some old guy talk about how he climbed a mountain. It wasn’t until he started speaking that I realized this man had accomplished a feat that was considered unconquerable. This was a man who faced the seemingly impossible, pushed past the limitations and climbed to the top of Mount Everest. Before his successful expedition in 1953, numerous groups had tried and failed to reach the summit. Even within his own expedition group, all but two of the climbers turned back because of exhaustion at the high altitude.

Despite the obstacles, discouragement and even abandonment of his group, Sir Edmund Hillary persevered. His accomplishment was celebrated worldwide and his influence inspired many others to reach toward their own personal goals. Oddly, Sir Edmund originally earned his living as a beekeeper in New Zealand. He started climbing mountains in his own country as a bit of a hobby. Little by little he progressed to climbing the Alps and eventually the Himalayas. The small mountains led to bigger mountains, preparing him to conquer the highest mountain – Mount Everest.

What are the mountains in your life? Mountains come in all shapes and sizes. They may be in the form of a difficult work relationship or a rebellious child or an overwhelming project that keeps you up at night. Some mountains may develop in our lives in the form of financial issues or a troubled marriage or even trying to lose weight. Actually, there are also mountains in our lives that aren’t expressly negative, some of our greatest mountains may include starting a new business or learning a new skill set or language.

Each mountain that we scale in life, strengthens us and prepares us to face grander mountains ahead. Whether we choose the mountain or the mountain chooses us, we still have a choice as to how we will deal with it. We can either look at the mountains in our lives and grumble and complain about them, or we can choose to begin to climb them and conquer them. The secret to rising to the top of any mountain rests in our attitude and ability to persevere. Sir Edmund Hillary said, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” From beekeeper to record breaker, Hillary conquered fears, discouragements and failures. It didn’t all happen at once, but he grew from each experience. We too can look at each mountain in our lives as an opportunity to grow and become stronger as a person.

 

I have learned that in every circumstance that comes my way,

I can choose to respond in one of two ways:

 I can whine or I can worship!

Nancy Leigh DeMoss

 

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This is an excerpt from Positive Leadership Principles for Women. On sale right now for $5. Order yours today. Click Here for more info.

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