It started out like any other Wednesday - reports to type, telephones to answer, books to balance. When the clock finally struck 4:30 p.m., Lauren locked her desk and wearily made her way to the fast-food café where she waited on tables several evenings a week. As a single mother struggling to make ends meet, Lauren's days were an endless blur of typewriters, ringing telephones and demanding children.
A few hours later, Lauren's entire world changed when she discovered that she had won $5 million in a lottery.
That was five years ago. Today, Lauren is back to typing reports and answering telephones. Other than owning a nice home, she has no assets and is once again struggling to make ends meet. Like many lottery winners, Lauren lost her winnings in bad investments and frivolous spending. Rarely a day goes by that Lauren doesn't agonize over all that she could have done with her life, had she properly managed her wealth.
"If only I could get my hands on that kind of money," you may be thinking. "I would never waste it."
That may be. But what are you doing with the wealth you already possess? I don't mean your bank accounts, business or investments. I'm referring to your talents, time, skills and opportunities, which are far more valuable than your money. And in many of our lives, these treasures are either buried or squandered in selfish pursuits.
John Henry Newman stated, "Fear not that your life shall have an end, but that it shall never have a beginning." Tragically, many people come to the end of their lives having never scratched the surface of their potential.
Following are some keys that will help you invest your inner wealth and achieve your full potential.
Connect to Your Power Source
My husband, Brian, is a hobby handyman. He's enthralled with his latest purchase, a "JigSaw" power tool that will cut any angle or shape. Last week he used it to cut a frame for a cathedral style window. According to the user manual, this tool has impressive capabilities. But even a non-techie like me knows it won't do anything unless it's connected to a power source.
To fulfill our greatest potential, we, too must be connected to our power source. Jesus Christ said, "I am the vine, you are the branches?he that abides in me and I in him, the same will bring forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing (Jn. 15:5).
Are you connected to Jesus? Creativity, joy and purpose grow in proportion to our "connectedness" to Christ. Draw closer to God, and divine power, love and grace will imbue your inner seeds of potential, causing them to germinate, grow and blossom.
When the late author Catherine Marshall was asked what advice she would give to someone seeking to be more creative, she replied, "That's easy. I would tell her to stay intimately attuned to God."
Change Your Focus
Many of us have areas of our lives that seem like insurmountable obstacles to achieving success.
When Ludwig van Beethoven began to lose his hearing, fear and anger became his constant companions. "O Providence," he wrote in his journal, "grant me at last one pure joy - it is so long since joy echoed in my heart. Oh when, oh when, shall I find it again?"
Beethoven despaired over whether he would ever be able to compose music again. But the time came when he decided to let go of his anger and be grateful for what he had. He chose to focus on God instead of his handicaps. The result was the composition of the famous Ninth Symphony, the tune to which we sin, "Joyful, joyful, we adore thee."
The handicaps that hinder most of us are not physical; they are handicaps of perception such as negative attitudes, fear of failure, inferiority, and doubt. Focus on your handicaps, and you'll be discouraged and resentful. Choose gratitude, focus on the enabling grace of God, and you'll experience joy and productivity.
Samuel Johnson once said, "Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.
People who wait to take action until every real or imagined obstacle is removed will never get beyond the starting gate. Many of the world's greatest geniuses died having never succeeded at anything. Why? It takes more than good intentions and talent to be successful. It takes boldness and courage. Translated into everyday living, that means action.
Many people avoid taking action because they fear failure. Often, this is rooted in concerns about what other people think of them.
Nothing will paralyze you more than worrying about other people's opinions. Refuse to compare yourself with others. Be willing to risk failure. Today, take one step outside your comfort zone. Then tomorrow, take another. Over time, you'll develop greater courage and resilience.
Effective action requires a disciplined lifestyle. Athletes have coined the phrase, "No pain, no gain." They know that excellence requires discipline and hard work.
Discipline is the harness that releases our potential, transforming dreams into accomplishments. Set realistic goals and establish a detailed course of action to achieve those goals. Then be sure to follow through. Periodically evaluate your progress and, whenever necessary, adjust your plan.
Finally, never give up. Most great accomplishments are realized through many small steps; most achievements follow a series of setbacks. Some of the world's greatest novelists received hundreds of rejection slips before publishing their first book. Many of the most world's most prominent business and political leaders failed dozens of times before ever succeeding at one venture.
Apply these principles, and you will experience the fulfillment that comes from knowing you are doing the very best with what God has entrusted to you.
Judy Rushfeldt is an author, speaker, and online magazine publisher who has been writing for 25 years. Her passion is to inspire and equip women to reach their dreams. Her latest book, Making Your Dreams Your Destiny - a woman's guide to awakening your passions and fulfilling your purpose, is now available in quality bookstores. For more information about this book or to order, visit http://www.MakingYourDreams.com