Choosing a Mentor – Part One

Personal growth should be the number one priority of all believers who are serious about following Jesus and reaching their divine purpose in life. Since I began my walk with the Lord over 43 years ago I have had a series of mentors.

At first, I simply grabbed hold or anyone who was willing to impart information into my life. This was good as I was a young believer and gained a great deal from other more mature believers and leaders. But this was a scattershot approach. Although I learned a lot I did not achieve the traction that I had hoped for. Then I figured out that I needed to focus my growth on my areas of personal strength: relationships, communications, teaching, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When I did that, my effectiveness in growth started to increase. Most of my early mentors were authors whose books I devoured.

Through one of my mentors I started to learn to glean from what I was studying. Resources have little value unless you can pull from them the essentials that you need. That meant learning that I didn’t have to finish a book simply because I started it. I could read only the portions that I needed and deemed important at the time. I learned how to take useful notes, gather quotes, and, most importantly, reflect on what I was learning. I often summarized what I learned and wrote follow-up points inside the front and back covers of a book that was significant and life-changing for me. And, I learned to collect, categorize, and file stories and quotes every day. I also put into practice anything I learned at my earliest opportunity.

Of course, all of that is so much easier now with a good laptop computer or a tablet. And, even today, these disciplines are still part of my daily routine. I read several books a week, I listen to podcasts and watch You Tube videos of good preaching or interviews with people I admire and can learn from. However, I also learned early in my professional life and ministry that personal growth without the benefit of personal mentors could take me only so far. If I wanted to become the leader and teacher that I desired to be – and believed that God had created and called me to become – I needed to find models who were ahead of me to learn from. Why? Because it is hard to improve when you have no one but yourself to follow. 

I have learned a lot from people I have never met or met briefly. Reading helps you to grow and gain from the experience and wisdom of others who have written books and shared their hard earned lessons with the reader. Most people who decide to grow personally find their first motors in the pages of books. That is a great place to start. For that matter, it’s a great place to continue. I am still learning from dozens of people every year that I will never meet. But at some point, you must find personal, in-person, models too. If you follow only yourself, you will find yourself going in circles.

When choosing mentors and models, you must be careful and be selective. There were these two derelicts sunning themselves on a park bench. The first guy said, “The reason I’m here is because I refused to listen to anyone.” The second guy responded, “The reason I’m here is because I listened to everyone.”

Neither course of action is helpful. You must be selective in who you choose as a mentor. From both the positive and negative experiences I haver had with mentors, I went looking for direction as to how to properly choose a mentor who would be a real benefit to me. One of my early mentors developed the following criteria to determine the ‘worthiness’ of a model for me to follow.

1> A good mentor is a worthy example

We become like the people we admire and the models we follow. For that reason, we should take great care when determining which people we ask to mentor us. They must not only display professional excellence and possess skill sets from which we can learn, they must also demonstrate character worthy of emulating.

Many athletes, celebrities, politicians, and business leaders today try to disavow being any kind of role model when others are already following them and mimicking their behaviour. They want people to separate their personal behaviour from their professional life, but such a division cannot really be made. Religious leader and author Gordon B. Hinckley advised,

“It is not wise, or even possible, to divorce private behaviour from public leadership – though there are those who have gone to great lengths to suggest that this is the only possible view of ‘enlightened’ individuals. They are wrong. They are deceived. By its very nature, true leadership carries with it the burden of being an example. Is it asking too much of any public officer, elected by his or her constituents, to stand tall and be a model before the people – not only in the ordinary aspects of leadership but in his or her behaviour? If values aren’t established and adhered to at the top, behaviour down the ranks is seriously jeopardized and undermined. Indeed, in any organization where such is the case – be it a family, a corporation, a society, or a nation – the values being neglected will in time disappear.”

As you look for role models and mentors, scrutinize their personal lives as carefully as their public performance. Your values will be influenced by theirs, so you shouldn’t be too casual who you choose to follow.

More next time….


On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little lifesaving station.  The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost.  Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous.  Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work.  New boats were bought and new crews trained.  The little lifesaving station grew.

    Some of the members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the build­ing was so crude and poorly equipped.  They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea.  So they re­placed the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the en­larged building.  Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as a sort of club.  Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work.  The lifesaving motif still prevailed in this club’s decoration, and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held.  About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.  They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin and some had yellow skin.  The beautiful new club was in chaos.  So the property 

committee immediately had a shower at house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

   At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership.  Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club.  Some members insisted upon lifesaving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station.  But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old.  It evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded.  History  continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that sea coast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore.  Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown! 

Turning Bad Experiences Into Growth Encounters – Part Two

We are looking at how to turn a bad experience into a growth encounter. Last time we saw:

1> Choose a positive life stance

2> Embrace and develop your creativity

3> Embrace the value of bad experiences

President John F. Kennedy was once asked how he became a war hero. With his customary dry wit he responded, “It was easy. Someone sunk my boat.” It is always easier to see something positive in a negative experience long after it happens. It is difficult to meet the negative experience in the moment with a positive mind-set. However, if you can do that, you will always be able to learn something from it.

Inventor Charles F. Kettering, who was the head of research at General Motors, said, “You will never stub your toe standing still. The faster you go, the more chance there is of stubbing your toe, but the more chance you have of getting somewhere.” In other words, where there is no struggle, there is no progress. Facing difficulties is inevitable. Learning for them is optional. Whether you learn is based on if you understand that difficulties present opportunities to learn and treat them accordingly. 

4> Make good changes after learning from bad experiences

It has been said, “Not every thing that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Often it takes a bad experience for us to face the changes we need to make in our lives. Often a bad experience introduces us to a “teachable moment.” And that bad experience gives us an opportunity to turn our lives around. A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.

Most people don’t think their way to positive change – they feel their way. In the book, The Heart of Change, we read, “Changing behaviour is less a matter of giving people analysis to influence their thoughts than helping them to see a truth to influence their feelings. Both thinking and feeling are essential, and both are found in successful organizations, but the heart of change is in the emotions.”

When bad experience create strong feelings in us, we either face the feelings and try to change or we try to escape. It’s the old fight-or-flight instinct. We need to train ourselves to fight for positive changes. How do we do that? By remembering that our choices will lead to either the pain of self-discipline or the pain or regret. I would rather live with the pain of self-discipline and reap the positive rewards than live with the pain of regret, which is something that can create a deep and continual ache within us. 

The next time you find yourself in the midst of a bad experience, remind yourself that you are on the cusp of an opportunity to change and grow. Whether you do will depend on how you react to your experience, and the changes you make as a result. Allow your emotions to be the catalyst for change, think through how to change to make sure you are making good choices, and then take action.

5> Take responsibility for your life

You need to recognize that your circumstances don’t define you. They are outside of you and need not negatively impact your values and standards. At the same time, you must take responsibility for your life and the choices you make. It has been stated that people who overcome bad experiences avoid the label of “victim” and take responsibility for moving forward. They don’t say, “What happened to me is the worst thing in the world, and I’ll never be free from it.” They say, “What happened to me was pretty bad, but other people are worse off, and I won’t give up.” They do not wallow in self-pity or ask, “Why me?” And that’s a good thing, because it’s one short step from “why me?” to”woe is me.”

It is nearly impossible to grow in any significant way when you don’t take responsibility for yourself and your life. No matter what you have gone through in your life – or what you are currently going through – you have the opportunity to grow from it. It’s sometimes very difficult to see the opportunity in the midst of the pain, but it is there. You must be willing to not only look for it, but pursue it. As you do, perhaps the words of William Penn, English philosopher and founder of the Pennsylvania province, will encourage you: “No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.”

Turning Bad Experiences Into Growth Encounters – Part One

We had a look at bad experiences yesterday and saw three basic truths. Today we want to look at how to turn a bad experience into a growth encounter.

Someone once said, “Experience isn’t really the best teacher but it sure does serve as the best excuse for not trying to do the same silly thing again.” If you want your bad experiences to keep you not only from doing the same silly things but to also lead to significant personal growth and maturity, I would suggest you consider embracing the following five actions…

1> Choose a positive life stance

“Life stance” is a term used to describe people’s overall frame of reference – the set of attitudes, assumptions, and expectations people hold about themselves, other people, and the world in general. It comprises, for instance, people’s attitudes towards money, assumptions about their health, and expectations for their children’s future. The product of any person’s life stance is their overall way of looking at things: whether they tend to be optimistic or pessimistic, cheerful or gloomy, trusting or suspicious, friendly or reserved, brave or timid, generous or stingy, giving or selfish. If you can maintain a positive life stance, you put yourself in the best position to manage bad experience and turn them into positive growth encounters. 

Family therapy pioneer and author Virginia Satir observed, “Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” You cannot control much of what happens to you in life. However, you can control your attitude. And you can choose to rise above your circumstances and refuse to allow negative experiences to undermine who you are and what you believe.

You need to adopt a positive life stance because it gives you the best chance to succeed while putting you in the best position to help others succeed. To develop this daily mind-set you need to focus and think…

        • Life is filled with good and bad
        • Some of the good and bad I can’t control – that’s life
        • Some of the good and bad will find me
        • If I have a positive life stance the good and bad will become better
        • If I have a negative life stance the good and bad will become worse
        • Therefore I choose a positive life stance

To a large degree in life, you get what you expect – not always, but most of the time. So why would I want to expect the worst? 

2> Embrace and develop your creativity

There’s a story about a chicken farmer whose land was flooded nearly every spring. He didn’t want to give up his farm and move, but when the water backed up onto his land and flooded his chicken coops, it was always a struggle to get his chickens to higher ground. Some years he couldn’t move fast enough and hundreds of his chickens drowned.

After the worse spring he had ever experienced and losing his entire flock, he came into the farmhouse and told his wife, “I’ve had it. I can’t afford to buy another place. I can’t sell this one. I don’t know what to do.”

His wife replied, “Buy ducks.”

The people who make the most out of bad experiences are the ones who find creative way to meet them, like the farmer’s wife in the story. They see possibilities within their problems.

Author Neale Donald Walsh asserted, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I believe that creativity begins at the end of your comfort zone as well. When you meet the pain of bad experiences, creativity gives you the opportunity to turn the pain into gain. The secret to doing that is to use the energy that comes from either adrenaline or anger and use it to solve problems and learn lessons.

When you have had a bad experience, instead of letting it discourage you or make you angry, try to find a way to let it prompt your creativity.

More next time…

Life’s Bad Experiences

What separates people who thrive and those who merely survive? I believe it is how they face their problems.  When bad things happen we need to use these experiences as stepping stones for growth, learning, and success. I have never known anyone who said, “I love problems.” But, I have known many who have admitted that their greatest gains came in the middle of their pain.

Here is what I have learned about bad experiences:

1> Everyone has them

Life is filled with ups and downs. The problem is that what most of us want is ups and ups. That’s not possible in real life. I think it is pretty obvious that nobody gets to escape bad experiences. I heard a new statement the other day, “Some days you’re the pigeon; some days you’re the statue!”

We can do everything in our power to avoid negative experiences, but they have a way of finding us. I love the quote, “I try to take life one day at a time, but lately several days have attacked me at once.” No matter who you are, where you live, what you do, or what your background is, you will have to deal with bad experiences. As television host and author Dennis Wholey observed, “Expecting the world to treat you fairly just because you’re a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to charge you because you’re a vegetarian.”

You have to have realistic expectations when it comes to pain and problems. You can’t avoid them.

2> No one likes them

Academy Award-winning actor Dustin Hoffman described that it was like for him and some fellow actors in the early days of their careers when they were struggling:

“If anyone had told us that we would have been successful, we would have laughed in their face. We were anything but successful actors in those days. I was a waiter. Gene Hackman was a mover and Robert Duvall worked at the post office. We didn’t dream of being rich and famous; we dreamed of finding a job. It was a time of terrible rejection, and we hated being rejected. It got to the point that we use to leave our 8×10’s (picture) at the door of casting agents, knock and run, just so we wouldn’t have to be rejected face-to-face again. It was so discouraging that I seriously considered quitting and becoming an acting teacher at a university.”

No one likes it when they’re in the middle of a bad experience. It’s usually just painful. But if they manage the experience well, then they enjoy talking about it afterwards. It becomes a great war story.

3> Few people make bad experiences positive experiences

Life’s difficulties do not allow us to stay the same. They move us. The question is, in which direction will we be moved: forward or backward? When we have bad experiences, do we become better or bitter? Will those experiences limit us or lead us to grow? As Warren G. Lester remarked, “Success in life comes not from holding a good hand, but in playing a poor hand well.”

When tough times come, many people don’t respond well. Some seem to have the motto that can be seen on bumper stickers: “When the going gets tough, it’s time to take a nap.” What a shame. Learning from painful experiences is essential for anyone who wants to grow. Most successful people will point to the hard times in their lives as key points in their journey of development. If you are dedicated to growth, then you must become committed to managing your bad experiences well.  

Looking At Priorities

I have been spending time looking at time. How I spend my time. What I use my time for. Where am I wasting my time. What needs to change to make better use of my time? 

This is something I do at the end of every year as I look towards another new year. But this year I have begun the deep dive into my priorities a little early as I realize I have been wasting time with a number of relationships. I kept hoping that with a little more time and a fair amount of investment things within the relationships would change. Regretfully they have not and appear like they will not any time soon. So, an early look at how I have been using my time. 

After all, there are only three things you can do with your time – waste it, spend it, and invest it. I want to always be doing the latter.

I am a fairly scheduled person. I need to be to continue being involved in the many projects, ministries, and relationships that I have. But, I need to continuously look at how I am investing my time. I read recently, “Perhaps the very best questions you can memorize and repeat over and over is, ‘What is the most valuable use of my time right now?’” Your answer to that question should shape any system you use to schedule your life and the way that you prioritize your activities, events, and relationships.

You should also ask yourself “When is my most valuable time?” Because you’ll want to always make the most of it. For me it’s mornings. When I recognized that I stopped scheduling breakfast meetings and morning coffee appointments. That was four decades ago. Imagine how much of my prime time would have gotten used up if I had allowed myself to meet with people, which I’m capable of doing anytime, during my prime productivity time. Instead, I use my prime time to read, study, research, and write.

Making that decision for me was fairly easy. Others have been more difficult. I am opportunity driven, and I tend to want to do everything and say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that opens before me. If one is good, four is better. I love saying ‘yes.’ I have a hard time saying ‘no.’ As a result, I get spread too thin. To deal with that I had to develop a system. I had to get tough and protect my most productive time as mentioned above. But, even harder, I had to learn to protect my personal time. As an introvert I desperately need time daily to be alone, to reflect, to journal, and to recharge. However, because I love people and enjoy ministering I tended to give away my personal time when a need arises or an opportunity knocks. Of course, that is simply not healthy and not maintainable. So, I have learned to protect my time and control carefully where I am investing my time. This is not always easy. 

So, I am looking at my priorities. A little early as we are still a month away from the holiday season when iI normally look at priorities for the coming year. However, I have a relationship that has not worked out the way I though it would and prayed that it might. So, I am realizing that this particular relationship is currently not a wise investment of my time – professional and personal. And, there are several long-term ministry involvements that I also need to examining and seeing if it is wise to continue to invest my time in. So, I am drawing back somewhat as we approach a new year and a new season in life, resetting priorities and time usage.

Let me ask you the same questions:

What is the most valuable use of your time right now?

When is your most valuable and productive time?

Spend a few minutes thinking through where you are wasting or spending your time and make the needed adjustments so that you are investing your time wisely as a new year quickly approaches. 

Time to Grow and Change – Part Five

If you want to expand your potential and therefore your capacity, you must first change your thinking. However, if you change only your thinking and you neglect to change your actions, you will fall short of your potential. To start expanding your capacity, take the following three steps:

1> Stop doing only those things you have done before and start doing those things you could and should do

2> Stop doing what is expected and start doing more than expected 

We live in a culture that awards trophies to people for simply showing up, regardless of their contribution. Because of that, many people think they are doing well if they just do what is expected of them. I don’t believe that helps people reach their potential or expand their capacity. To do that, a person has to do more. 

Let’s call this “getting out of the pile.” To distinguish yourself, get noticed, and advance your career, you do to do and be more. You have to rise above average. You can do this by asking more of yourself than others ask, expecting more from yourself than others expect, believing more in yourself than others believe, doing more than others think you should have to do, giving more than others think you should give, and helping more than others think you should help.

Boxer Jack Johnson describes it as: “Going far beyond that call of duty, doing more than others expect, this is what excellence is all about! And it comes from striving, maintaining the highest standards. Looking after the smallest detail, and going the extra mile. Excellence means doing your very best. In everything! In every way.”

Doing more than is expected does more than just separate you from your colleagues by earning you a reputation for performance. It also trains you to develop a habit of excellence. And that compounds over time. Continued excellence expands your capabilities and your potential.

3> Stop doing important things occasionally and start doing important things daily

Have you ever heard the expression “Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint on it that you can”? I like the intent and exuberance of those words, but I don’t think that advice is very good – unless you want a mess. A better thought is to make your life a masterpiece, which requires much thought, a clear idea, and selection when it comes to what paint you put on the canvas. How do you do that? By doing the important things every day.

Writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; and he will live with the license of a higher order of being.”

I believe advancing confidently in the direction of one’s dreams means doing what is important every day. To do what’s not important every day does nothing for you. It merely uses up your time. To do the right thing only occasionally does not lead to consistent growth and the expansion of your life. Both components are necessary. Continual daily growth leads to personal expansion. Growth always increases your capacity.

This quality is present in all lifelong learners. And for that reason their capacity keeps on expanding. It’s said that when Pablo Casals was ninety-five years old, a young reporter asked, “Mr. Casals, you are ninety-five and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?” Mr. Casal’s answer was telling: “Because I think I’m making progress.”

You have potential to keep making progress until the day you die – if you have the right attitude about growth. You need to believe what Rabbi Samuel M. Silver did. “The greatest of all miracles is that we need not be tomorrow what we are today, and we can improve if we make use of the potentials implanted in us by God.”

So, it is your move. Your choice. 

Time to Grow and Change – Part Four

If you want to expand your potential and therefore your capacity, you must first change your thinking. However, if you change only your thinking and you neglect to change your actions, you will fall short of your potential. To start expanding your capacity, take the following three steps:

1> Stop doing only those things you have done before and start doing those things you could and should do

The first step toward success and fulfilling your God-given destiny is become good at what you  know how to do. But the more that you do what you know, the more you discover additional worthy things you could do. When this occurs, you have a decision to make. Will you continue doing what you have always done, or will you make the leap and try new things? 

Doing new things leads to innovation and new discoveries, and among those discoveries is the realization of things you should do on a consistent basis. If you do those, you will continue to grow and expand your potential. If you don’t, you will plateau. 

In the book “Aspire” the writer recalls a discussion that he had with one of his mentors. The mentor was describing the growth of a tradesman from apprentice to master. He recalls the conversation:

A master doesn’t become a master overnight, he explained. There was a process. First, one must become an apprentice, then a journeyman, and finally a master.

Apprentice. Journeyman. Master. These three words illustrate the importance of going through fundamental and necessary steps to acquire the kind of humility that is commensurate with true leadership,

The mentor then shared: “Do you know that ‘apprentice’ means ‘learner?’ The word comes from the French ‘appendre,’ which means to learn.

In earlier times, apprentice was the name for someone who would select a trade, then find a master in his village to teach him the skills necessary for his chosen vocation. After learning all he could from the local master, the apprentice would then travel elsewhere to broaden his education. Launching forward on such a journey turned an apprentice into a journeyman. A journeyman would often travel long distances for the privilege of working under the master who could best help him further hone his craft. Over time, a journeyman could eventually become a master himself – and be in a position to start the cycle all over again.”

The price of expanding one’s potential is ongoing. It ebbs and flows. Opportunities come and go. The standards we must set for ourselves are constantly changing. What we could do changes as we develop. What we should do also evokes. We must leave behind some old things to take on new things. It can be difficult work, but if we are willing, our lives are changed. 

Often you will feel ‘in over your head.’ You will, at times, have a steep learning curve. Most days you might feel like Pablo Picasso when he said, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order to learn how to do it.”

The process of adaption and expansion, once started, will continue for a lifetime. So, you never want to stop learning. You want to keep enlarging yourself, expanding your potential, improving on what you already do well; never stopping until you depart this world in death. 

Norman Vincent Peale, a pastor and author, said, “Ask the God who made you to keep remaking you.”

More next time…

Time to Grow and Change – Part Three

As we continue our look at continuing to grow and expand our influence and impact regardless of age and circumstances we have seen that the first step in continuing to grow and change is to change the way we think. The book of Provers states, “As a person thinks, so they become.” So true! We have seen that we need to think differently about ourselves.

How should we think?

1> Stop thinking ‘more work’ and start thinking ‘what works?’ 

2> Stop thinking ‘Can I?’ and start thinking ‘How can I?’

3> Stop thinking one door and start thinking many doors

When it comes to growth, you don’t want to stake your future on one “door.” It may not open! It’s much better to consider many possibilities and look for multiple answers to all of your questions. Think in terms of options.

Often we look for a ‘success formula.’ One way others have built a great organization or church. One door. We try copying what they have done. Sometimes it works but most times it does not. And, if it works you end up with a copy of someone else’s dream or vision and not the realization of your own potential and destiny. So, it is better to act on your own dream even if you are not sure of anything but the first small step. You formulate and discover the details of further steps and future growth and change as you go. Mobility is critical to progress, and strategy will begin to evolve out of your journey of discovery.

One of my favourite words is “options.” Anyone who is going to grow and change and reach their full potential will need to make sure they are never ‘fenced in.’ There must never be just one door. When you work with multiple options you avoid mental claustrophobia. And, you will increase your desire to increase your capacity. The more time goes by, the more you will want to explore creative options and the less you will want to rely on someone else’s system and approach.

As I have learned to think “many doors” and explore options for life and ministry, here is what I have learned:

        • There is more than one way to do something successfully and well
        • The odds of arriving somewhere increased with creativity and adaptability
        • Movement with intentionality creates possibilities
        • Failures and setbacks can be great tools for learning and growing
        • Knowing the future is difficult; controlling the future is impossible
        • Knowing today is essential; controlling today is possible
        • Success (progress) is a result of continued action filled with continual adjustments

The greatest challenge you will ever face is that of expanding your mind. It’s like crossing the great frontier. You must be willing to be a pioneer, to enter uncharted territory, to face the unknown, to conquer your own doubts and fears. But here’s the good news. If you can change your thinking, you can change your life. As Oliver Wendell Holmes remarker, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” 

If you want to expand your capacity in what God has called you to accomplish for Him, the first place to start is always in your own mind. You will need to change the way you think.

We have looked at the first of two moves we need to make to continue to grow and change and increase our influence and impact on our world. We have looked at “How to increase your thinking capacity.” We have seen:

1> Stop thinking ‘more work’ and start thinking ‘what works?’ 

2> Stop thinking ‘can I?’ and start thinking ‘How can I?’

3> Start thinking one door and start thinking many doors

Now, for the second step, “How to increase your capacity for action.” Changes in the way you think should always result in changing the way you live life and interact with those around you. 

More next time…

Time to Grow and Change – Part Two

We are looking at removing the finish line and running to race that God has put before us. To continue to run the race and move forward in what we are doing in life and in our work we must be dedicated to growing and changing. We saw last time that the first thing we need to change is the way we think because all growth begins on the inside of us. So, we are looking at how we should be thinking…

How do we need to think?

1> Stop thinking more work and start thinking what works? 

2> Stop thinking ‘can I?’ and start thinking ‘How can I?’

At first glass, the questions ‘Can I?’ and ‘How can I?’ may appear to be very similar. However, the reality is that they are worlds apart in terms of results. ‘Can I?’ is a question filled with hesitation and doubt. It is a question that imposes limitations. If that is the question you regularly ask yourself, you’re undermining your efforts before you even begin. How many people could have accomplished much in life but failed to try because they doubted and answered ‘no’ to the question ‘Can I?’

When you ask yourself ‘How can I?’ you give yourself a fighting chance to achieve something. The most common reason people don’t overcome the odds is that they don’t challenge them enough. They don’t test their limits. They don’t push their capacity. ‘How can I?’ assumes there is a way. You just need to find it. 

A mentor once asked me, “What would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail?” The answer for most people would be fairly obvious. A lot more than you are currently attempting! To do so, you will need to think outside the box. You will need to take more risks. You will need to push your boundaries. You will need to test your own limits. You and I need to realize that most of our limitations are based not on lack of ability, but lack of belief.

Sharon Wood, the first North American woman to climb Mount Everest, said of her experience, “I discovered it wasn’t a matter of physical strength, but a matter of psychological strength. The conquest lay within my own mind to penetrate those barriers of self-imposed limitations and get to the good stuff – the stuff called potential, 90 percent of which we barely use.” If you want to tap into that unused 90 percent, ask “How can I?” Do that and greater achievement becomes a matter of when and how, not if.

In Price Pritchett’s book “You” the author writes, “Your skepticism, which you presume is based on rational thinking and an objective assessment of factual data about yourself, is rooted in mental junk. Your doubts are not the product of accurate thinking, but habitual thinking. Years ago you accepted flawed conclusions as correct, began to live your life as if those warped ideas about your potential were true, and ceased the bold experiment in living that brought you many breakthrough behaviours as a child. Now it’s time for you to find that faith you had in yourself before.”

If you have spent time in a negative environment or you have experienced abuse in your life, you may find this thinking transition to be very difficult. If that describes you, then let me take a moment to encourage you and explain something. I’m asking you to shift from ‘Can I?’ to ‘How can I?’ I believe that deep down inside you already believe that you can achieve things. I believe you can do it. I believe that God has put in every person the potential to grow, expand, and achieve. The first step in doing that is believing that you can. 

The second step is perseverance. As you get started, it may not look like you’re making progress. That doesn’t matter. Don’t give up. Pritchett says in his book that everything looks like a failure in the middle. He writes, “You can’t bake a cake without getting the kitchen messy. Halfway through surgery it looks like there’s been a murder in the operating room. If you sent a rocket to the moon, about ninety percent of the time it’s off course – it ‘fails’ its way to the moon by continually making mistakes and correcting them.”

You can change your thinking. You can believe in your potential. You can use failure as a resource to help you find the edge of your capacities. As psychiatrist Fritz Perls observed, “Learning is discovering that something is possible.” So, we need to believe in ourselves and the potential God has placed inside each one of us and continue learning, growing, and increasing our capacity. 

More next time…