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.

Living the Life You’ve Imagined

By Linda Tancs

Are you living the life you’ve imagined? If not, why? Is it lack of courage—or encouragement? First Thessalonians 5:11 exhorts us to encourage each other and build each other up. Let’s face it, though; it’s easy to play it safe. But as the expression goes: no guts, no glory. Take a look at the excuses you use to keep from realizing your dreams. I’m too old (or young)I don’t like riskMy family would never approve. I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough influence. It’s all been done before. I’m not that talented. What excuses do you make? We all have hopes and aspirations. The next time you contemplate yours, be very conscious of the excuses that creep into your thoughts. Chances are, you haven’t given them much thought or even accepted them as excuses because they’ve become so much a part of your daily thought process. Or you may have “inherited” one or more of your favorite excuses from a potentially well-intentioned friend or family member. However, excuses derive their power from you—and only you. God’s Word gives you the power to banish them. As Ephesians 4:23 says, renew your attitude.

Renewal requires you to challenge your excuses. Sure, many folks will say, “It’s not an excuse; it’s actually a fact.” Take, for example, I’m too old. How can you be sure of the truth of this statement? Like a detective, seek the evidence that bears it out. In other words, be sure to separate facts from feelings. Do your homework. How many others with aspirations like yours accomplished their goals at the same age—or even older? In New Jersey, a 96-year-old woman obtained her high school diploma. Look for stories on your topic on the internet, in business journals, blogs, social networks and so on. Only after you’ve exhausted your fact-finding mission and found no evidence to refute your excuse should you even think about accepting it as a cold, hard fact. If that’s the case, then consider whether your statement is really more a reflection of your own lack of desire to accomplish something. Are you striving towards your own dream or trying to achieve something for someone else?

There’s no need to waste time with excuses based on someone else’s agenda or your own actual (rather than conjured) limitations. In all other cases, continue to think big and look for inspiration. Remove the word can’t from your vocabulary (Philippians 4:13). As the writer Frank Scully once remarked, “Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?”

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.’

Managing Career Transition

By Linda Tancs

For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. —Ecclesiastes 5:3

For many, that dream involves a transition from one career to another—and all the associated stress and anxiety. Can I succeed outside my comfort zone? Do I have the technical and educational skill sets to find viable employment in another capacity? How will I manage my fears and expectations and those of friends and family? Take heart. There are many things you can do to prepare for a rewarding second career. With a little God-guided introspection, you can retool your career to align with who you were created to be.

First, take stock of your skills. First Corinthians 12 reminds us that each of us has been given unique abilities to accomplish His will, such as the ability to give wise counsel, heal, speak foreign languages or possess specialized knowledge. List your own skills according to categories such as organizational talent, problem-solving prowess, managerial skill and oral and written communication abilities. Note the environments in which these skills are deployed—at home, at work, in your community. Your task, then, is to determine how your skills are related to serving God. After all, only skills used in advancing the Kingdom of God will yield a satisfying result. Is your track record more aligned with material success or service to others? As Ecclesiastes 5:10 (NIV) warns, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.”

Second, consider how your career moves have impacted your life. Proverbs 20:5 (NIV) says, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” Indeed, as the saying goes, you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. What are your five most significant achievements and defeats? Which actions are you willing to own on your part that brought about those successes or failures? Understanding what it is that brings about a successful result for you will give you the confidence to try new waters. Conversely, finding your weak spots will show you what needs work to avoid making the same mistakes in a different milieu. Do you need help identifying your strengths and weaknesses? Pray for guidance. Take your questions and concerns to God first, and the answer may come through a trusted friend or colleague who knows you well.

Third, build a transition plan. Putting thoughts into words and words into actions will help you manage your anxiety. How much do you know about your target occupation? Where can you go to learn more? Are there business or behavioral competencies you need to acquire to make it work? Proverbs 21:5 says that the plans of the diligent lead to profit. Think about where you see yourself in five or ten years, but remember to leave room for God to change those plans. In all likelihood, that’s why you’re in transition in the first place.