5 Principles for Overcoming Discouragement

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Discouragement can seem like an unscalable wall at times. It hits each one of us in different ways, whether it is losing a key client or setbacks with a major project or frustrations with a family member. How do we strengthen our resolve and keep going? Here are a few life principles to adopt:

Celebrate Small Victories. Sometimes the big picture can be overwhelming, so let’s learn to take incremental steps forward and celebrate the little victories along the way. Create a few simple daily goals that are doable and move step by step in a positive direction.

Change the focus.  Life looks pretty bleak if we only focus on our problems. Let’s stop looking at what we can’t do, and consider what we can do. There is always a bright side, but we must be looking for it. Let’s make a deliberate effort to concentrate on what can be done and the possibilities ahead of us.

Be flexible. When we are fixed on only one outcome, we open ourselves up to defeat. Let’s be willing to adapt and adjust to Plan B. Could it be that “B” stands for Better?If we consider a variety of scenarios, it allows us to adjust our goals and broaden our horizon.

Ask Questions. Discouraging situations also bring opportunities for growth and learning. We can ask questions such as, “How can I do better next time?” “What can I learn from this?” “How can I help others as a result of this?” “Are there other people I need to seek out for counsel or help?”

Have patience. Let’s face it, waiting is hard, but if we persevere we will find that we become stronger and more courageous as we wade through deep waters. Victory, success and change take time. Hang in there and remind yourself that most things get better or easier over time. Even if our circumstances seem like they won’t change for a while, the good news is that we can grow and become better in the process.

Most important, let’s remember that we are not alone. There are others who have gone through similar tough times. We can reach out to them for advice, and we can find encouragement from their example. We can also find strength and hope in our faith that God will give us the courage we need one day at a time.

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For more about overcoming challenges, check out Karol’s book, Positive Leadership Principles for Women   n sale for $5 this month.

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Overcoming Comparisons

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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.

 

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This is an excerpt from Positive Life Principles for Women  

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Step Up to the Challenge

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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.

 

Personalize It

  1. What mountain are you currently facing in your leadership role?
  2. What is God teaching you personally through this challenge?
  3. How can you thank God specifically for this mountain?

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This is an excerpt from Positive Leadership Principles for Women

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

[i] Mary Trotter Kion, http://www.historyswomen.com/1stWomen/MaryCrowley.html

Turning Negatives into Positives

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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.

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Photo by Sara Kauten on Unsplash

Courage

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God has a unique plan for women in this world. He designed us with a distinct purpose in mind, using our unique feminine strengths, as well as some of our personal weaknesses. Throughout history we read about women who played a role in shaping culture and defining new standards.

For the next few weeks, I will be highlight women who used their God-given strengths to make a positive difference in their culture. Today, let’s look at a strong and courageous woman named Deborah whose story is found in the book of Judges in the Bible.

According to Edith Deen’s book, All the Women of the Bible, Deborah was the “only woman in the Bible who was placed at the height of political power by the common consent of the people.” Deborah’s courage, like that of Joan of Arc 27 centuries later, was based on her faith in the Lord. She was a counselor, a judge, and a brave advisor in time of war. When other leaders were afraid, she led the nation of Israel into battle and on to victory with these words; “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera (the enemy) into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?”*

The victory was won because of the leadership of one brave woman who didn’t let obstacles or fears confine her. Her faith guided her and gave her the courage to move forward. Where do you need to step out in faith and courage? What fears do you need to overcome? Where do you find your guidance for your next steps?

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Read more in The Power of a Positive Woman. Click here for more info.

*Judges 4:14

 

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