Tag: growth

Being Intentional – Part I


When you make excuses, you deny yourself the opportunity to grow.
 (Tayo Adeyemi)


Are you being intentional about pursuing your purpose, or are you sitting back waiting for everything to come to you?

Just because you know the direction that God is taking you in your life, doesn’t mean that there isn’t going to be some hard work and decision-making involved.  There are going to be many many opportunities come your way. You will not be able to take every single one of them, so you need to position yourself to know which ones you should take advantage of.

One area to be intentional in is building yourself a professional support system. This is different from a personal support system.  Professional means that it has to do directly with implementing and maintaining your purpose and its goals with people with SAME/SIMILAR purpose and goals.

For example, here’s what I do in my life:

  • Meet regularly with a friend who is a speaker, corporate trainer, and author to specifically to talk about business and ministry.  We provide resources to each other, discuss our challenges, help each other set goals, and celebrate our accomplishments.
  • Almost every month I drive about two hours north to attend the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association meeting (http://www.nwchristianwriters.org/). Almost always I dread entering the nation’s 10th worst traffic.  Almost always I wind up in the wrong lane for the exit I need going back home very late at night.  But always I wind up being glad I made the effort to attend.  There is something about the atmosphere when you walk into a room where 50+ people are gathered for the same purpose, who share your values, and who go out of their way to encourage one another without any sort of competitive spirit.
  • Find the industry leaders in my field and subscribe to  their e-mail newsletters, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, bookmark their websites, and join on-line discussions.

Even if your purpose is not typically classified as professional, you need to do research and find ways of connecting to similar-minded people.  They really are out there. It may take extra effort on your part, but it’s worth it.


Discover your uniqueness; then discipline yourself to develop it.
(Jim Sundberg)

Reminders About Our Way of Thinking


 “As you begin changing your thinking, start immediately to change your behavior. Begin to act the part of the person you would like to become. Take action on your behaviour. Too many people want to feel, then take action. This never works.”

(John Maxwell)


In looking at the people I consider to be excellent in pursuing their God-given purpose in life, there is one word that comes to mind for each of them: tenacious.  They have their obstacles and their moments of deep doubt, but they ultimately hold on. Merriam Webster defines tenacious as “1a: not easily pulled apart b: tending to adhere or cling especially to another substance. 2a: persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired.” The “other substance” my tenacious friends hold on to is the substance of faith – they know theirs is a God-given purpose and is not going to be pulled out from under them. They value seeking out that for which they are created.


Last night I had a dream that I was in some sort of competition and went forward to meet with one of the judges who would tell me if I had progressed to the next stage of the competition.  When he told me I had succeeded and was now a finalist, I began to cry. He asked me why I was crying and I said, “Because I was convinced that I would not make it and I would have to try another way.”  He said, “Well now you know that this is your platform.”  I woke up and thought, “Wow.”

There are two old adages I’ve seemed to survive on the past year: “Rejection is God’s protection” and “Rejection is just redirection.” Both of them are comforting and true when things don’t go as you would like.  But what about when things do go as you like – when things get traction and start to move forward?  What happens when you survive the final cut? What happens when things start to pop and you are accepted and not rejected? What’s the plan then?  Are you prepared to continue through on your purpose?

Always remember, your life’s purpose is not a goal, not an accomplishment. Rather, your purpose is your platform for your accomplishments. Don’t try to figure how to gain success.  You need to be strategic in in how to position yourself to make the most of the success that will come your way because you strive for excellence in pursuing your goal.

Strengths vs. Weaknesses


About ten years ago I began to enjoy the wisdom of Marcus Buckingham, the popular best-selling author and in-demand speaker.  His message is that a person’s unique personal strengths are the key to unlocking their potential (http://www.tmbc.com/home). I got revved up by this important truth; however, I had never really found a way to make it “click” in my life.  It was always in the back of my mind but I applied it pretty much hit-and-miss. I had lots of excuses about not having enough time, not having enough energy, not being in the right environment, etc., but deep down I knew it really was an element of fear that was behind my fully embracing what I knew to be truth.  Once I realized this I began to look at my life and discovered there were many areas that I was holding back in because of fear – in business, in relationships, and in my faith. It didn’t take me long to attribute it all to a fear of failure.  And so I began a quest to overcome it. Books, CDs, DVDs, internet sites, prayer, affirmations, declarations, etc. helped me to get down and dirty in my fight to overcome my weaknesses.  I finally achieved breakthrough when I had a revelation that doing this was WASTING MY TIME. In my ferocity to clear the path to get to my strengths, I was actually focusing on my weaknesses and diminishing my potential. I was doing the opposite of my goal. I stopped in my tracks and did some serious reassessment of my assumptions. It was then that I discovered that I was not afraid of failure, but I was afraid of success.

Nelson Mandela’s quote of Marianne Williamson’s Our Deepest Fear suddenly went from an admired platitude to a life giving testimony.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.”

My fear of success had partly to do with the responsibility of sustaining it and the expectations and judgments of others.  This time the books, CDs, DVDs, internet sites, prayer, affirmations, declarations, etc. were focused properly. Instead of overcoming my flaws and limitations, I began to put concentrate on my assets – places I had an advantage – the knowledge, skills, abilities, and spheres of influence in which I was already successful.  As I pour resources and energies into these areas I continue to be amazed at the benefits.  I have more energy, I have a better attitude when things are challenging, I feel less threatened by the opinions of others, I feel less threatened by the success of others in my field, and, in a major bonus, I’ve found that when I focus on strengths that the areas of my limitations have adjusted.  They have either improved (my strengths have absorbed them) or they have totally fallen off my grid of self-assessment (they have no impact).

When you are moving towards your purpose in life, keep in mind that it’s not only important to re-evaluate yourself from time to time and the beliefs that you have about what you can and can’t accomplish, but also WHY you have those beliefs.


“Excellence is not the opposite of failure.”
(Marcus Buckingham)


“(People) who are making (their purpose) work are ascribing their success to intrinsic causes  rather than extrinsic. They’ve discovered their strengths, they seek their  strong moments, and they apply them with courage and diligence. They trust  themselves beyond anyone else and they take themselves very seriously. They take  a stand for their strengths.”
(Marcus Buckingham)

Rising Out of the Pit and Pressing into Your Purpose


I worked for a couple of hours trying to write a piece about surrounding yourself with people who support you.  Then I discovered that Mark Twain said it much more succinctly than I did in just a few short sentences:

Keep  away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.  When you are seeking to bring big plans to fruition, it is important with whom you regularly assoiate.  Hang out with friends who are like minded and who are also designing purpose-filled lives.  Similarly be that kind of a friend for your friends.

To tell you the truth it kind of irritated me that I had worked hard just to find the same thing written decades ago. Unfortunately I’ve noticed a new tendency to get more than reasonably irritated over things having to do with my purpose and vision.  To be completely transparent, it’s one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging the last couple of months.  Other than the  Twain incident above, I’ve faced the following:

  • I’ve been trying to piece together a possible book and in doing research I picked up the new book by one of my mentors (I’ve never met him, but I consider him a mentor) and every chapter was a chapter I had been brainstorming through for my book – and, naturally, done far better than I could even dream.
  • An acqaintance of mine who was sharing a similar path to mine – roadblocks and setbacks and lots of hopes and prayers – suddenly found breakthrough into her dream job that sort of fell into her lap.  Jealousy settled in on me. I wanted to give up.  It was never going to happen for me…

Getting that down in writing and reading through them, it’s easy to see now that it was ridiculous for those circumstances to hold me back from my entire future.  But when you’re in the midst of them and they are frustrating you and chipping away at your confidence, it’s not so easy to see the big picture.

The only reason I began to crawl out of the pit I was in was when I read about how other people climbed out of their holes, reading my own journals about circumstances I’ve conquered in the past, and – most important of all – setting aside time for serious prayer and asking God to help me change my way of thinking.

One of the things that He showed me was that I was spending way too much time with people who didn’t support me.  They didn’t come right out and say that, but when I would share about things that were starting to happen they would caution me about getting too excited.  Or comments would be made about the time I was spending pursuing my vision vs. the “real” responsibilities of life.  Or they would tell about how their other friends’ dreams fell through and now they were flipping burgers at age sixty.

It only took one 30-minute visit with a friend full of encouragement and optimism to start me back on the road to my goals.  Since then I’ve been looking for advocates who will stand beside me – and they’ve been coming out of the woodwork.  They are people who are also chasing a purpose-filled life and are facing the same set of emotions I am.  And I plan on becoming their biggest advocate as well.

The naysayers are still there – but my percentage of time with them is going to decrease.  I am also going to be careful in what I share with them.  I’ll give them generalities, not specifics, and it will mostly be successes already achieved rather than hopes that are still blooming.


Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.  (Ronnie Oldham)

…and I would add that it is pressing in harder than YOU think is wise, safe, practical, possible.


This is a reminder to myself – but you can use it for yourself if you find yourself needing it:

Struggles may arise, but they are defeated.  Distractions, temptations and plots against you become irrelevant .  You become like Nehemiah, who said to his enemies, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down…” Purpose creates not arrogance but vtality, focus, courage.  (Stephen DeSilva)

My purpose is set by God – and He remains faithful to me and His plan for me, even when I do not.

“God created you on purpose, for a purpose – and nothing he creates is insignificant.” (Me)


“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”  (Abraham Lincoln)


My friends had been talking about it for over a year, so I knew that I was a bit behind the curve, but when I finally started playing Angry Birds,  I liked it.  I liked it being broken down into levels and sub-levels that you can quickly work, that it’s challenging but not overly confidence eroding, because it requires strategic thinking, and because it has a sense of humor.  I also liked it because I completed every level, to some degree of success, within 48 hours (but no, I didn’t play it for two days straight).

So here’s the thing:  about six of the games got incredibly frustrating.  I kept trying over and over and over again – examining the structures where the pigs were hiding and trying to get the slingshot at just the right angle to send those aviary missles and obliterate the porkers.  If only I could just get that stupid bird to hit that corner board just perfectly…

Suddenly a popular phrase came to mind, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  My first response was, “But this should work!”  and continued on. And continued to fail. Eventually I sat back and took a big breath and decided to take a couple of potshots, not trying to hit anything, but just seeing how high I could launch a bird or what would happen if I didn’t release an egg bomb.  Surprise surprise surprise.  Unexpected destruction ensued.  Frustration ended.  Fun returned.  When I got stuck again, I pursued that modern miracle – the internet –  for clues on attack angles and timing.  Success again.  Now I don’t know how successful it might look if I compared it with other peoples results, but I feel pretty good about it.

Will you be at all surprised when I suggest the same strategy when you get frustrated with your temporary lack of success?  Go ahead and take a couple of potshots – things you know won’t help, things that might not make sense, things that go against your normal line of thinking.  It could very well open the way for seeing it all differently.  And go ahead and browse the internet or ask people involved in the same area of expertise or do other research to find out how others broke through troublesome times.  There’s no rule that says you have to figure it all out without any help.


While researching some possible ideas for this blog, I came across a website that purported itself to be an expert on self-improvement.  It loudly proclaimed several suggestions for reaching success.  Suggestions like “you really don’t have much time to do what you want to do since you’re making a beeline for death – so you better hurry up and get with it.”  And one about forgetting about helping other people along the way.  It was a totally serious site.  But the one that really irritated me?  They said it was a total myth that you are important, reminding the reader how “remarkably insignificant you are” in the vastness of the universe.  Fortunately several commenters on the site were as appalled as I was.

It is not possible to emphasize deeply enough that YOU are a remarkable person. Not because of anything you can do, but simply because there is no one exactly like you, with your experiences, your set of skills, and your view of life.  God created you on purpose, for a purpose – and nothing he creates is insignificant.  The world is waiting for you to influence it. You may do it loudly and for many.  You may do it quietly for a few.  But you are never insignificant.

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” (Abraham Lincoln)


“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”  (Benjamin Franklin)


When people get excited about what they do, there’s an energy that’s palpable around them. They begin to eat, breathe, and live their purpose.  They want others to get into the excitement with them – that’s natural. But sometimes things can get carried away, and the person sharing their excitement starts to think that everyone needs to be involved with their purpose and/or the way they pursue it. That’s okay if you’re a salesperson committed to your product or if your company needs a consistent quality conrol process.  It, however, does not work when it comes to your life purpose.

What God gives you in this life to do and the way you go about it is competely unique to you.  Others may have the same general direction, but there will be differences in plan, approach, execution, impact and more.

It took me a very long time to finally get Burn Bright off the ground.  One of the things that kept me from fully pursuing it was a simple search engine query of the words “life coach”, which garnered 7,150,000 hits and “life purpose” at 3,690,000 hits.  It made me question my sanity of thinking I had anything to offer. I decided to make a list of the things that I could bring to the table that others could not.  My list of individual items wasn’t that impressive but, as I looked at them, I realized that combining the items brought them some power.  An example of this:  I am a woman – there’s millions of women.  I am a middle-aged woman – not as many millions.  I am a middle-aged Christian woman – angle is sharpening here.  I am middle-age Christian woman living in South Puget  Sound – okay, this is getting better.  I am a middle-age Christian woman in South Puget Sound who has experience in personal and career counseling.  And I’m sure you can imagine how the list went on and on.  It gave me hope there is a sphere that I can influence – a place for my gift to fit.

So, go ahead and get stirred up by people who are passionate – absorb that spirit and drive to help you move forward to your place. But if you find yourself feeling obligated to jump on their bandwagon or feeling guilty for not doing so, it may be that you don’t have clarity for your life’s purpose. Maybe it’s time you start your own list.

“It does take work and it ain’t easy – but man, the rewards!” (Susan Powter)


An older woman once said to me, “I always thought that there would be a golden age between zits and wrinkles where my skin would be perfect and radiant without me having to work at it.”  I laughed.  Then one day I realized that I had this same attitude toward my life.  I thought there would be a point where I would come through all the countless tests and trials and questions that helped build my life and I would slide easily into the land of milk and honey where I could lean back and have all my dreams fall into place without any further work on my part – perfect and radiant.  Aaaaah, success.

It didn’t happen. It’s not going to happen.

Working towards your life’s purpose is tough. You give it everything – time, energy, finances, emotions, and more. You wonder if you’ll ever finally turn that corner where you feel you’re actually getting somewhere with it.  So many times you want to give up, but you keep fighting. Then one day everything comes together, everything is set in motion, you’re where  you’ve always wanted to be, you’re living the dream. If your life was an inspirational movie, this is where the music would swell, the camera would pan back, the credits would roll, and the audience would applaud.

But life purpose doesn’t wrap up so neatly.

You realize your grip isn’t quite as tight as you thought it was and you lose a chunk of your hard won dream and you ask yourself, “Did I miss a turn?  Did I miss everything? Did I not do enough? Do I go back and start over? Do I keep moving on from here?”  You feel as if your life is a tragic movie, the music clashing, the screen dimming, and the audience leaving silently.

You need to change the script.  It’s in your hands.

You have to maintain the momentum to keep it going, which can be rougher than what it originally took to get you there.  You realize that you’re not quite as satisfied as you were sure you were going to be and it’s time for your goals to expand a little more – which takes even more work.

You see, the work never really ends.  But the goal is not to conquer your purpose in order to sit back and enjoy your life.  The goal is to enjoy your life as you are working – hard – towards your purpose.

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