Category Archives: Career
“Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.” ~Proverbs 22:24-25~ This post will include some …
Just about everyone has experienced some sort of opposition or rejection in life, whether personally or professionally. In work, we may have been under-rated, rejected for a certain job or rebuffed when we wanted a raise. Perhaps as youngsters we were bullied or assigned a label by acquaintances at school as often happens. Soft bullying might actually be of some benefit in the form of critique (perhaps our hairstyle or clothes are really ridiculous!). Often bullying can happen by our own siblings, and this is commonly put under the umbrella of sibling rivalry. All of these stories are too common, and to some extent part of growing up.
Perhaps some people feel the hurt from these experiences more, and in some instances the rejection experienced is deeply pervasive and awful. But what should happen in these cases? It is almost as if the universe is rooting for you to succeed and to overcome. The justice of the universe demands it. Good must succeed, bitterness and resentment cannot prevail. Courage and kindness must triumph in the end.
Featured on the popular show “Shark Tank”, Barbara Corcoran is a woman who built a very successful real estate empire, capitalizing on past failures and rejections. She turned these negative experiences in her life into a great motivation to succeed, and also as a way to judge the character and potential of those she hires.
Here is a short clip of Barbara Corcoran discussing a trait she has found in herself and in her most successful salespeople
The Bible is filled with characters overcoming their obstacles
The Bible has a number of inspirational stories in which God uses the oppressed but sincere believers.
Joseph – While he was the doting favorite of his father, Joseph was hated by his siblings. When he revealed dreams he had to his brothers that indicated that he would be in a leadership position over them, they hated him even more and said that would never happen. His brothers then sold Joseph into slavery. (Genesis 37) However in the course of events after slavery and time in prison for a false accusation, he then had an opportunity to interpret Pharoah’s troubling dreams. After that Joseph received the promotion of a lifetime. At age 30, Joseph became second in command to Pharoah in Egypt (Genesis 41:46). His brothers not only recognized Joseph in his leadership position, they were dependent on his stewardship for survival.
David – as a youth Shortly after being anointed by the prophet Samuel while still a youth, David was sent by his father to deliver food rations to his three eldest brothers on the battle lines with the Philistines. When David talked with men there about the threat of the giant Goliath, his brother responded angrily to him. Below you see the interchange, and David’s innocent response.
And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?
–I Samuel 17:28-29
Up to that point, it would seem that David had only fought wild animals to protect the sheep he tended. His brother mocked him for presuming to talk to “men” about the battle. While David’s brothers obviously disregarded David in regards to man-to-man battle, interestingly David became one of the most famous warrior-Kings ever. (I Samuel 18:7, Psalm 144:1)
David – as a young man Although Saul utilized David in different ways, for his musical skills early on (I Samuel 16:23) and to head up his men in battle (I Samuel 18:5), Saul quickly became jealous of David and began a series of attempts to kill him. (Samuel 19:10) David had to live as a fugitive for a period of about 8 years. While Saul continuously tried to kill David, David also had a very loyal band of brothers with him — his “mighty men”. (II Samuel 23:8-39) And while he had to remain a fugitive early on, he is still the most glorious king of Israel. He ruled successfully over the united Israel for many years, while keeping Israel pointed toward God.
David – in old age David was a man of passion and as such, even though he was a man after God’s own heart he also brought much trouble to himself. David became guilty of adultery and murder to cover it up. David repented greatly of these sins afterward (Psalm 51). Even with such repentance, God punished David. God had greatly blessed David and He would likewise discipline him. The prophet Nathan told him the pronouncement of God: “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.” — II Samuel 12:10. David’s house, or family would be in turmoil. David’s son Absalom opposed his own father in battle to overthrow David and rule instead (II Samuel 14-18) and David’s son Adonijah tried to make himself king instead of Solomon, the one David wanted to be king after him (I Kings 1). While David experienced much grief and opposition from his family, his family also became the royal line of Jesus. Through sons of David and Bathsheba – Solomon and Nathan – would come both lines of Jesus, his biological line through Mary, and the line of his non-biological father Joseph. In spite of everything, David would still be a man after God’s own heart.
Jephthah – Jephthah is an Old Testament figure who also gets a shout-out in the New Testatment with a mention in the “chapter of faith” (Hebrews 11:32). Jephthah became famous for his vow that is often misunderstood as I show here. But when he was young, he was thrown out of his father’s house by his half-brothers because he was born of a “harlot”. Jephthah spent time with “vain men” in the land of Tob. (Judges 11:1-3)
In spite of this personal rejection, there must have been some intrinsic quality in Jephthah that caused the people to look to him in a time of distress.
And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel. And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob: And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon. And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father’s house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress? And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the LORD deliver them before me, shall I be your head? And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The LORD be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words. Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the LORD in Mizpeh. –Judges 11:4-11
Jephthah is also shown to be a great man of faith. He did not do his accomplishments in a vacuum. Jephthah’s vow was under the direct inspiration of the Lord, and Jephthah feared God in such a way he would not take back his vow. This vow was in accordance with scripture as I explained in my previous post. The Bible condemns the taking of “innocent blood” in many cases in the Bible. While a lamb would have been offered as a burnt offering in the vow, Jephthath’s daughter was the first to come out of his doors to greet him. in Jephthah’s daughters case, she served God in a virgin state, and Jephthah would have no grandchildren as a result. (Judges 11:35, 39-40)
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon. And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands.
And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.
Judges 11:29-32, 35
Finally, there is the example of Jabez.
Jabez – There is a short excerpt in the genealogies of Chronicles that tell of this man. It seemed that Jabez felt he was almost under a curse, and perhaps his mother’s life has been lost in bearing him. He felt a great responsibility on his shoulders, and he wanted God’s blessing. When Jabez got serious, he “doubled down” in prayer.
And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.
And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.
–I Chronicles 4:9-10
The Power of Good
This year a movie was released for children, a remake of the classic fairy tale Cinderella. While I personally reject notions of fairy godmothers and don’t believe in dabbling in spells or that sort of thing, there are positive lessons in this fairy tale. Cinderella lived under very oppressive conditions, doing the work of four people while treated very spitefully. She returned good works for her stepfamily’s bad wishes. And she was treated with more and more contempt.
In this film, the message Cinderella received from her parents before being orphaned was “to have courage and be kind”. Cinderella diligently practiced this, even though at times she was overwhelmed. Because of her kind nature, animals of all kinds could recognize her kind nature, although the stepmother’s cat named ‘Lucifer’ was her one nemesis in the animal kingdom.
Fairy godmother narrates:
“Names have power — like magic spells.
All of the sudden it seemed to (Cinderella) that her Stepmother and Stepsisters had indeed transformed her into merely a creature of ash and toil.”
Some will rightly point out that Cinderella was assisted by a powerful magical benefactor, and didn’t just pull herself up by her “own bootstraps”. However, hardship can also prepare us for greater responsibility.
Bitterness or desire for revenge hurt the people who harbor those feelings the worst. Sometimes the laws of nature and justice of the universe are the best in sorting things out.
A few last thoughts from the Bible:
“See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” –I Thessalonians 5:15
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” –Galatians 6:10
“Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.” –Proverbs 20:22
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” –Romans 12:19
God inspires us to strive for his standard of Agape love.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” –Mathew 5:43-48
Opposition or rejection can teach us things in life that we can benefit from. The first lesson is to remain humble. Success will find us in due time. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” –I Peter 5:6. The second lesson is determination. The determination of David – “is there not a cause?”, or Jabez, who didn’t want to be a disappointment. Humility and determination are great attributes to put us on the road to success. It shouldn’t be the kind of success to flaunt, but rather the kind of success that says that good wins in the final outcome.
The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 spends her day looking out for her household, both physically and spiritually. She doesn’t always do things the easy way; instead her focus is on doing things God’s way.
Like Ruth, the proverbial virtuous woman wasn’t looking for a rich man to marry or for a life of ease. On the other hand, her hard-working and honorable conduct helps keep her husband on the straight-and-narrow path. In verse 11, it states that: “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.” Her husband is a hard worker as well, and being married to her he is not likely to be in modern terms a corporate raider, get-rich-quick schemer, a defrauder, bribe-taker, buyer of lottery tickets, or even a harsh boss.
In verse 10 it says “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” The evidence is that her allegiance and affection cannot be won with mere physical commodities. She can’t be “bought” and neither can her husband. She is on a mission, and by her diligence she has also afforded her husband time to excel and also to develop his own spiritual life. We all know that the virtuous woman is hard-working, but does she also have a secret?
“She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.” —Proverbs 31:15
The virtuous woman seems to be part of a fairly wealthy household, with evidence that she has the equivalent of employees – or “maidens”, her business enterprises (v. 16 & 24), and that her family is well-clothed (v 21 & 22). While she could choose to sleep in a little, she knows that she has a whole household to motivate and to get moving each day. The virtuous woman takes it upon herself to provide a hearty first meal of the day for her household and for her servants/employees. The meal she provides is the best way to dispatch them all for productive work.
Like the virtuous woman, everyone in her household works too. Paul stated the importance of everyone working in II Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” But this principle is also abundant in the Old Testament also: (Proverbs 6:6, 10:4, 10:5, 13:4, 18:9, 20:4, 21:5, 21:25).
To understand when the virtuous woman would get up, we must know something about Jewish reckoning of time. In John 11:9 we find: “Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.” So even though things like sunset would vary quite a lot, day and night were pretty much considered to be split into two twelve hour periods. Our 6:00am would be their “1st hour of the day”. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03166a.htm
So if the virtuous woman rose while it was yet night, it is presumed to be in the time before 6am. This would have been especially important in an agrarian subsistence-farming lifestyle. If she rose at 5am, she can make sure the day starts right. Considering her husband’s other duties (verse 23), it is often left to her to supervise and dispatch the household. Some quiet time for planning of activities is important for any manager. But also the early morning time can be great for a flurry of activity too – like baking, cooking, feeding animals, milking cows or goats, etc. We shouldn’t think that the virtuous woman does all of the work herself. Far from it. She knows that delegating duties is necessary for surviving and preparing for the cold months. But her example is clear for the rest of the household.
The virtuous woman’s “secret” of getting up early is also a modern tool of successful people. It is a developed trait of many leaders. While sleep is important as well, work is best done during the day. Creativity is at its peak for many people early in the morning. And many mothers learn that it is important to get some busy work and organizing done while the children are still asleep so that they can have quality time with them when they are awake. The following article touches on some of the things successful people do early in the day. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifercohen/2013/10/02/5-things-super-successful-people-do-before-8-am/
The Proverbs 31 woman is a model of wisdom and virtue that we can all learn from. She not only works hard, she works smart. And because she fears the Lord, she does not fear the future. “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” – Proverbs 31: 31.
See previous post on this topic.
We all go through periods of stress and it can affect us differently. Stress can cause an elevated heartbeat, headaches, stiff neck and tight shoulders, back pain, sweating and upset stomach. Over time, stress can affect the immune system, muscles, and the heart and other organs of your body. http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-management-effects-of-stress
Stress often involves change. Some of the most stressful life events include: spouse death, divorce, marriage separation, jail term, death of a loved one, injury or illness, marriage, job loss, pregnancy, and retirement/change of financial status. It is interesting that even events we look forward to like marriage and retirement can be severe stressors.
A stressful life event that I experienced was in taking on a challenging job after being away from the work force for two years. The new job involved a lot of responsibility and a lot of new things that I would have to learn. Although not on the above list, a lot of people develop chronic stress from work. And chances are that if your boss does not handle stress well, that it can also affect you. I did not exactly handle my stressful situation the best. I was drinking tons of coffee, not sleeping well, not making time for exercise, and ended up gaining about 20 pounds. I probably knew better, but you can get on a cycle where you don’t know what else to do. So this article stems from lessons learned.
One other consideration involves the effect of hormones on the body. While there are a few hormones like testosterone in men and women that can aid weight loss, elevated levels of certain hormones like cortisol can cause detrimental effects on the body, including weight gain. http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/cortisol.htm
This article is not medical advice. It is about relating my own lessons learned. Here are some of my own tips for not letting stress take its toll.
- Take a walk. Go for one or more short, brisk walks throughout the day for stress reduction and health benefits. http://walking.about.com/od/hearthealth/a/hypertension906.htm A study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion found short walks to have enormous positive benefits. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130901153352.htm
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. When we are stressed we often tend to drink anything but water, but water is exactly what is needed. http://benefitof.net/benefits-of-drinking-water/
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods. Inflammation is a common culprit in most disease from cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Anti-inflammatory foods can include anything from organic fruits and vegetables to fish and fish oil, olive oil, to a glass of red wine. Even though salad can be healthy, most store-bought salad dressings actually increase inflammation. A great simple anti-inflammatory salad dressing is one part rice vinegar, two parts olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. A good book on this topic is The Inflammation Syndrome by Jack Challem.
- Multi-task. It might sound counter-intuitive, but you can reduce stress by keeping busy. You might catch up with a favorite show on Netflix or listen to a book on tape while doing housework. If you sit watching NFL football doing nothing but consuming beer and fatty foods, this can add stress. However if you also fold a couple loads of laundry, change the cat litter and take out the trash in the same period, this time multi-tasking will probably not add to your stress level, even if your team loses.
- Pray. You don’t have to handle your stress alone.
- Socialize with supportive friends. Individuals with a support system always fare better than their isolated counterparts.
- Exercise. It is a great way to distract us in a productive way, remove tension from our bodies and help us sleep better. Also, if done outside, you can be invigorated with fresh air.
- Get restful sleep and a nap when you can. I put this one last because the chances are that if you do the preceding (including the exercise and drinking water) that you will be able to sleep.
Take charge of your own health and take care of you!
I’ve had an opportunity to be around and observe quite a few successful entrepreneurs throughout life. Some were my employers, some were family members, some were former entrepreneurs and some would become future entrepreneurs. These successful entrepreneurs possess characteristics that set them apart from average, and this is worth examining.
I am not naïve enough to believe that by default that they are exalted or morally superior human beings, but I certainly wouldn’t believe the reverse. They all have interesting and admirable qualities that we can learn from.
They are like a force of nature.
If entrepreneurs get tired, you don’t usually see it. They not only seem to defy the 2nd law of thermodynamics in which everything tends to disorder – they capitalize on it. They might build a plumbing empire doing common things like rooting out toilets.
We tend to follow entrepreneurs not just because they pay our salary but that we can’t help but get caught up in a force of nature. Other words that come to mind: drive, ambition, confidence, vision, hustle, endurance, energy, bullish, faith, guts, glory.
One entrepreneur that I worked for told me the three laws of business were “Get the money”. Did you catch all three? He employed about 80 people. While this approach may seem simple, it is simply logical. Whether you specialty is sales, service, R&D, production, customer service or accounting – we all need to focus on doing our jobs well enough so that the business is profitable and will last into the future. If the business declines, that means jobs will be lost.
We think of passion as something that might burn high and then flag and possible burn out. But entrepreneurs seem to wake up with uncommon energy and drive every day of their lives.
They pay attention to the little things.
Entrepreneurs are not careless and tend to be very skilled at managing limited resources. They know that a small leak can erode a property-saving dike and a small hole can sink a sailboat. They know the importance of follow through and organization. They know that seemingly small things, like returning a phone call, could be the most important thing that they do that day.
Entrepreneurs are often sticklers on timeliness. I worked for another entrepreneur who liked the expression: “Are the trains running on time?” This shows that it not only matters that you consistently produce, but that you keep to a timely schedule.
Timeliness is especially important in a service business. If you go to a fast food restaurant in which you are not served in a timely and efficient way, you will be quick also to turn elsewhere. If there are inattentive and slow checkers at a grocery store, then that business will tend to decline.
Hiring the right people is also part of this. A highly specialized and skilled doctor with her own practice may have no interest in accounting or office management, but she knows the importance of hiring the right people for the job, and periodically checking that they are performing at a high level.
Successful and wealthy entrepreneurs are often surprisingly frugal. This tends to free up resources in their business which enables them to expand productivity. The classic “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy” by Thomas Stanley and William Danko has extensive research to show the frugal habits of multi-millionaires. Most of these millionaires tend to be entrepreneurs. Their formulas for both saving and growing come together in generating great wealth.
Entrepreneurs don’t let opportunities slip through their grasp. The small things can be a big deal.
They know that the only “sizzle” is in success.
Entrepreneurs are focused on the success of their business. If one can’t put the pieces together to become a success, then a person has nothing to show for their efforts yet. Entrepreneurs are shrewd – and they are strategic. They find ways to leverage their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. They are natural builders, but they always keep working to improve.
Success is going to be a relative concept. What could be a successful side business could be a disaster if tried as a primary endeavor if one is a key bread-winner in his family. There is an opportunity cost as well. If you can make ten times more working for someone else, then trying to have your own business would most likely be a poor return for your time.
I would define business success as creating a material benefit for both one’s family and community. Volunteer work or unprofitable work could produce a benefit to the community, but it does not return any monetary value to yourself or your family. Alternatively, you could procure some venture capital to produce and bring your genius invention to market. This could benefit your family in the short term, but if you never have a successful roll-out, you have not benefited the greater community.
We need to distinguish between hobbies and businesses. Hobbies, like college, tend to cost money. But a hobby can be a great learning ground. If you don’t have a real business yet, maybe it’s best not to pretend. If you like to golf in your spare time, would you call yourself a “golfer”? I don’t think so.
Entrepreneurs know that it doesn’t matter how they impress their initial customers in a sales presentation if they don’t have the product quality and follow-through to create a consistent customer base. It doesn’t matter that much how they look or what kind of cars they drive. Success is not in just maintaining an appearance or in a self-centered illusion – it is outward looking. An unpretentious seeming restaurant might have the best food around and a steady stream of customers. It also doesn’t matter how great your ideas are unless you put them into practice and have more than a flash in the pan success.
With a new year approaching, I would like to toast the movers and shakers – the entrepreneurs. Cheers! To your success.