The Right Move

By Linda Tancs

Chess is a game of strategy, requiring players to master the art of manipulating how the pieces move. Sometimes, life feels like a never-ending game of chess, doesn’t it? We spend countless hours, days, or even years trying to manipulate people, events and circumstances to achieve an outcome that best suits us, or so we think. There’s no shortage of manipulators in the Bible, either. Consider Jacob, who manipulated his father Isaac into giving him the family blessing (i.e., the first son’s inheritance) by posing as his older twin brother Esau in the presence of his blind father (Genesis 27:34-38). Even Satan poses as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).

What kind of move are you making? Are you a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15)? A smooth talker (Romans 16:18)? Do you callously disregard others (Ezekiel 34:4)? You might have made the wrong move for so long that you’ve forgotten what the right one looks like. Well, here’s a hint: it’s whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely or whatever is commendable (Philippians 4:8). Let the Holy Spirit guide you to the right move, to all truth (John 16:13). How do you do that? By reading the Bible faithfully, which we’re reminded is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

It’s Lonely at the Top

By Linda Tancs

Stories abound about bears and other animals stuck in trees. We watch news reports with rapt attention as rescuers go about the job of extraction. Clearly, the poor animal didn’t realize what it was in for when it started the climb.

You could say the same about humans. In the climb for success (however one defines it), it often becomes apparent what’s meant by the expression “it’s lonely at the top.” That’s typically because in getting there one has adopted the saying, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Instead of lifting others up during our march for the brass ring, we take them down. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious unless it’s selfish ambition or conceit (Philippians 2:3-4). In other words, the Bible exhorts us to please (and be pleasing to) God, not man (Galatians 1:10). To honor God and to honor the quest for power, success, honor, wealth and fame are mutually exclusive endeavors. You cannot serve both (Matthew 6:24). Jesus reminds us to seek first the Kingdom, and then our needs will be met (Matthew 6:33). To be first in the Kingdom is to be a servant (Matthew 20:26-28). So be good to those you meet on your journey because, as another expression teaches, you’ll meet the same people on the way down as you met on your way up.

An Act of Faith

By Linda Tancs

An oft-used expression is “it is what it is.” Many folks use it as a coping tool, a way to soothe over sorrow about the way things are at the moment. But God calls things which are not as though they were (Romans 4:17). He wants you to have the courage to do the same. Maybe your list of opposites looks like this:

Unforgiven. Forgiven.

Broken. Unbroken.

Discontent. Content.

Listless. Joyful.

Anxious. Calm.

Timid. Courageous.

Unmotivated. Motivated.

Go ahead, make your list. What needs turning around? Start acting “as if” today.

Excuses, Excuses

By Linda Tancs

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else—Benjamin Franklin.

When you feel called to something, how do you react? Are you reluctant, like Moses (Exodus 3:11)? Are you willing, like Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4)? Or do you feel unworthy, like Isaiah (Isaiah 6)? When you’re called according to God’s will for your life, an opportunity is a wonderful thing to pursue (Ephesians 5:15-17). So why is it so hard sometimes?

Among other things, a fear of failure often leads to procrastination or choosing the path of least resistance (or so it seems). Don’t be afraid to take risks (Proverbs 22:13). Set reasonable goals (Proverbs 20:4) and have an attitude of expectancy, a return on investment (Proverbs 23:7). In other words, cast down your wrong thinking for the kind of thinking that Scripture advocates and you’ll overcome mindsets that undermine your efforts (Romans 12:2).

When it Rains, it Pours

By Linda Tancs

You know what it’s like when you’re having “one of those days,” when everything that could possibly go wrong does exactly that. The prophet Habakkuk could relate. He lamented over fig trees that did not blossom, vines that bore no fruit, failing olive trees, fruitless fields, flock cut off from the fold and no cattle in the stalls (Habakkuk 3:17). I guess you could say he was having a bad day.

Do you often get overwhelmed when circumstances seem out of control? Habakkuk did, too, but God reminded him to trust Him in the midst of oppression and destruction. He instructed him, in essence, to create a vision board and stand by it (Habakkuk 2:3). After all, what’s the use in focusing on what is going wrong when you can visualize a better outcome? It’s easy to quit in hard times, the storms of life. Habakkuk resolved to trust God to make his feet like hinds’ feet—in other words, swift and nimble. How swiftly and nimbly do you act when life throws you a curveball?

Never Say Never

By Linda Tancs

Whenever I hear someone express a negative belief about being able to accomplish something, I’m often reminded of one of my favorite quotes attributed to the philosopher Goethe:  “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.” Negative beliefs often surround the subject of going back to school at a later age. Consider a 50-year-old who says: “I can’t go back to school now. I’ll be 54 when I graduate.” Well, you will be 54 (or whatever age it is) in any event. Growing older doesn’t take any talent or ability but it’s all the sweeter if you find opportunity in change. This point was aptly illustrated in a newspaper story about an older woman who elected to rise above some very challenging circumstances and attend a community college. She became homeless after losing her job, lost all her possessions when she couldn’t pay the storage facility, surrendered her children to relatives for their daily care and lost three loved ones to health issues within a single year. She remarked that if she could persevere through school as a homeless person, then anyone with a home could do it, too.

So what causes a person to visit Neverland and take up residence there? Oftentimes, something in the past holds the future captive—a negative life event that leaves one hopeless or depressed and unable to move forward. Conversely, prior success many install fear in a person that the best of times are already behind. In either event, Proverbs 23:7 reminds us that as we think, so we are. So forget the past (Isaiah 43:18), and look to God to lead you in the present (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Never say never; it’s as simple as that.

A Sporting Approach Toward Career Management

By Linda Tancs

Tennis icon Billie Jean King once remarked, “A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.” This got me thinking about the parallels in sports and the Bible concerning winning traits: perseverance in the face of obstacles, honesty, integrity, sportsmanship. First Corinthians, in particular, provides a sporting analogy on life. In chapter nine, Paul outlines the criteria for running an effective race: determination, self-control, goal-setting and discipline (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

Aren’t these some of the same qualities that our business leaders should possess? No doubt many of these qualities are picked up in the gym or out on the schoolyard, which is why it’s distressing when sports and academics are pitted against each other as mutually exclusive endeavors. Sports are an important part of education, teaching the value of teamwork and other career enhancing skills like strategy, goal setting, feedback and review.

Regardless whether you’re a sports fanatic and armed with biblical precepts on running your race, watch a game and ask yourself what lessons can be learned and applied in your working life based on the conduct of the players towards themselves and the opposing team, the strategies employed, the reactions of the fans, the interplay between the coach and the team, and the commentary. You’ll likely never watch a game the same way again.

Rest is Not Idleness

By Linda Tancs

As you run about your day like the Energizer Bunny on steroids trying to juggle life and work, remember that the human body is not designed to run 24/7. It’s essential to have balance in work and life, which is all the more trying these days—especially for employees who are so often asked to do more with less. And add to that the vague notion that rest is idleness and you end up with needless stress and anxiety.

What does the Bible say about rest? You don’t have to read far to get an answer. God established the principle by resting on the seventh day following creation (Genesis 2:2). Exodus 33:14 reminds us that when we place our trust in God, He will give us rest. Jesus reminded his followers of the same thing in Matthew 11:28. Why is rest such an important biblical concept? Because it engenders faith, which allows us room to focus on aligning ourselves with God’s mission for our lives. And that creates peace.

Rest is a biblical weapon to combat stress and anxiety. So how do you incorporate a sense of balance? First, you need to determine the value you place on every aspect of your life: work, emotional growth, friends, family, hobbies, health and fitness, finances, intellectual growth, spirituality and so on. Rate each aspect on a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the highest value). A sense of imbalance often evolves from a feeling that one’s values are out of sync with daily living. How much do you incorporate your highest rated value(s) into the life you’re living? Next, determine the resources you need to close the gap between your highest values ratings and the space that any such activity actually occupies in your life. Are you lacking a “team” resource—a supportive partner, an extra hand at work, an au pair, a counselor, etc.? Or perhaps you need more material resources like a daily planner, better technology, or training materials, to name a few. Once you’ve determined the resources you need, sit down and write out an action plan to optimize those resources. List each resource and your goal with respect to acquiring or optimizing it. Determine a realistic timeline for each goal. Finally, consider how you’ll know whether the goal has been achieved. What will success look like? Revisit your plan often to gauge how your values jibe with your current life circumstances.

Waiting for Success

By Linda Tancs

Jonathan Winters, the comedian and author, once said: “I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.”

This approach is the antidote to “paralysis by analysis.” So many times I hear people say, “Failure is not an option.” This thinking is usually what leads to paralysis by analysis: analysis of all things, great and small, that could possibly go wrong with an idea, a goal, a business venture—life. What if I don’t get any business? What if don’t get any repeat business? What if I lose the lease? What if I lose my shirt? And the list goes on and on.

Fear is the driver of this kind of analysis. Until the power of fear is broken, we remain a slave to it (Romans 8:15). Fear counteracts faith, and that is why it is such a powerful tool in the arsenal of the enemy. But 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that we have not been given a spirit of fear. What we do have is a soul (our mind, will and emotions) that hosts fear when it comes. Our best response is to deploy Psalm 118:6 (NLT): “The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

Waiting for success is as futile as waiting for a rainbow after every storm. As Nike’s slogan so effectively puts it, “Just do it.” What do you want? In the business universe, four concerns are generally paramount: develop clients, build revenue, build a reputation, become a leader. Which concern, if any, resonates with you? What do you need to do to get what you want? If you’re stuck, then imagine yourself a year from now having all that it is that you want. How did you get there? Work backwards. What are the goals that you met? Who did you meet with along the way? Who played a role in your success? Write it down. Build a timeline. Construct a vision board. What else can you do? God won’t drive a parked car. With His guidance, you have all the answers. Now, get busy. You needn’t wait for success. You can go ahead without it.

The Power of Yes

By Linda Tancs

“Don’t rain on my parade.” How many times have you thought, or muttered, that phrase (or know someone who has) when confronted with a naysaying friend, colleague, family member or significant other? The effect of naysayers on the psyche is particularly acute for entrepreneurs, many of whom leave behind the relative security of a well-paying job for the chance to experience something new. Is it a smooth transition? In many cases, no. What makes it even harder, though, are those dreaded words—“You can’t do that!”—uttered from well-intentioned family or friends determined to save you from economic ruin. Have you ever wondered why the same people who tell their children that they can do or be anything when they’ve grown up throw a wrench in someone’s works when their dream changes mid-career? In circumstances like this remember that you can do all things through Christ who is your strength (Philippians 4:13).

The Bible reminds us not to be judgmental nor to put obstacles in someone’s way (Romans 14:13). So the next time a friend, family member, significant other or even stranger confides in you a dream about trading in that management job for a microphone at a comedy club, remember the power of ‘yes, you can.’