Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV) I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

I began a year-long course this past weekend in Leadership Douglas County. This is a program of local professionals who journey through a course of study for the next 12 months to learn more about being leaders in our community – specifically focused on individuals in Douglas County. Our first ‘induction’ was a day-and-a-half seminar where 24 of us were drop kicked into forming teams with individuals we did not yet know and learning about the power of a positive attitude.

Friday morning, we were led into a parking lot at the Marriott Hotel, blindfolded and told that we had 20 minutes for the team to pick up the rope (or ropes) that were in the center of our circle and form a perfect square with the rope. Each person was supposed to hold onto the rope and simply line up next to their neighbor and form a square. Sounded easy to me. All we needed to do (in my simple mind) was to have 6 people on each side of the square and form a square. I won’t go into the details because you would likely laugh until your side hurts, but after 20 minutes, we failed miserably. The highway noise, individuals talking over other individuals, not having any sight, and not knowing how many ropes there were, all pointed to a lack of unified strength and we ended up with an “S” on the pavement instead of a square. Lesson #1: pick a strong leader and listen well.

After many other exercises on team work, we gathered on Saturday morning faced with a “Release of Liability” to sign indicating that we would not hold our class sponsors liable if we hurt ourselves breaking a 12’ x 12’ x 1’ board in half with our bare hand. I smiled. I signed the release form and handed it in thinking that if someone could actually teach me to break a board with my bare hand in the next few hours, I would be indebted to my mentor, rather than hold them liable.

For the next few hours, we focused on what a positive attitude creates within our minds and souls. Statistics hold that 95% of our successes are based on our attitude, not our skill set. As our mentor traversed with us through creating mind over matter, I began to let my skepticism slide out the door. We heard many incredible stories of athletes, inventors, and ‘famous’ people who failed over and over, but never gave up.

We were then told to go pick out our board from the stack of pine boards lining the conference room. As we returned to our seats with our board in hand, we then learned that we were to use a pencil to write three things on this board:

    1) What is our biggest fear or disabling attitude;

    2) What caused it; and

    3) If we didn’t have this fear or attitude, how would it change us.

I spent the next 5 minutes studying my soul – what is my biggest fear? What if I could overcome it? As I wrote down those words on the board, I wondered if I was going to have to focus on that fear and lacked faith to believe I could get through that fear within the next hour.
I then asked the burning question, “Am I to focus on my fear and breaking through my fear, or am I to focus on breaking the board?” It was then I realized where strength is born. Focus. Focus. Focus. Our mentor told us that we should not think about anything except breaking through the board. We all began to practice. We stood. We took our stance. We practiced breathing. We practiced the movement. We trusted that our board-holder would be there for us to help us break through the board.

As we each lined up to take turns breaking our board, we cheered for each other. As some could not break through on the first swing, we cheered them on even more. We gave them strength through our encouragement.

I broke through my board on the first pass. My fear of rejection was shattered. It was because of the strength that was instilled in my soul by those around me.

God is like that. He’s always there. All we need to do is focus.

Dear God,
I can do anything with you by my side. Regardless of my fears, uncertainty and doubts (FUD) that surround me, I know that you will give me strength to do anything that is pleasing in your sight. Thank you for giving me constant strength and courage to face each new challenge and to know that those around me continue to cheer me on. Thank you for team mates. Help me to always be a cheer leader for others and help them break through barriers that prevent them from being your servant. Amen.

Carole Schumacher

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