"Perfectionism" and Prosperity

RareFaith-perfectionism

We live in a time when life comes at us faster than it ever has in the history of the world. We get stressed, overloaded, and overwhelmed. Under these pressures, it is hard to remain calm… the state of mind necessary to live in harmony with the universal laws of success. Often we get discouraged and lose faith, simply because we spend so much time beating ourselves up for our flaws.

To qualify for the blessings we’re praying for requires a calm and confident state of mind. But when we’re disappointed in ourselves, it is tough to have faith. The problem is, so long as we’re not perfect, there’s always something to be disappointed about. So what do we do about that? How can we have peace of mind when we’re so imperfect? How can we achieve prosperity so long as we fall short of perfection?

Do we have to THINK, BEHAVE, and DO everything perfectly in order for the blessings to come? No.

In my book, Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help with Money Matters, I talk about how I had a perfectionist mentality for many years, until, after I married and had children I discovered to my dismay how literally IMPOSSIBLE it is to be perfect, even when you give it all you’ve got.

For a simple example, I’d make a commitment to study a certain amount each day or week, and I’d sit down to read… just as a baby in the other room would wake up and start to fuss. Or, I’d get the kids to bed and open my books just to hear some crying and then one of the toddlers would throw up.

It seemed that something always got in the way of my ability to make a commitment to myself and keep it. I had gotten pretty good at “self-mastery” before starting a family, but all that changed after the first baby. No longer did I have much say in how my time would be spent, even with all of my good intentions of living a disciplined, structured life.

Finally, one day I surrendered in despair. I realized I had become a cranky, sloppy person with the utter inability to finish anything I tried to start. Anything that did get done was done half-shod. I collapsed in tears and expressed to God how sorry I was that I was such a failure. I was devastated and confessed that I was doing the best I knew how, and that as poorly as I was doing, it was all I could do.

For the first time in years I felt Him really smiling down on me. It was as if He was saying, “FINALLY you realize your dependence on me! NOW we can proceed!”

Everything changed after that. How does this lesson apply to me now? I still have all the interruptions that come with family life… even more now than ever. In fact, a paper airplane just hit me in the head and I’m not even kidding.

I don’t have time to plan, prepare, and execute much of anything as perfectly, professionally, or impressively as I should. Let’s say I’m selling something, and if doing the presentation poorly could cost me the deal, I have two choices. I can either think “oh, dear… I did such a bad job” or I can think, “that’s just going to have to be good enough.”

Which mentality will bring success? Which mindset leads to prosperity?

Now that I know my best is never going to be good enough, and now that I know that God understands and is okay with that (so long as I really try), I rely on Him to make up the difference for my inadequacies. When I’m trying to do a good job and I blow it anyway, I think of Him and pray that He can make something useful out of my less-than-perfect efforts.

So long as I have believed that, I’ve seen miracles.

So then, do we have to THINK, BEHAVE, and DO everything perfectly in order for the blessings to come? No. We will not live the principles perfectly, no matter how hard we try. BUT, we can think of God when we come short, and pray for mercy.

Let me give you an example. Years ago, my husband and I made the mistake of trying to purchase multiple investment properties at the same time. The underwriters on every one of those deals became uneasy when they realized what we were trying to do. The first home went through relatively easily, but the second was more tough. The underwriters kept coming back with more unexpected hoops that we had to jump through, including having us show larger amounts available in certain accounts than what they had originally requested, as well as proving that those funds had already been seasoned for so many months, etc…

Each time we managed to jump through one hoop, they came back with yet another and another and another. Originally they only needed to see X amount in the bank and 3 months of payments in reserve. Then, seeing us as a risky investment, their requirements increased to something like X times two and 6 months in reserve, which eventually turned into a required 12 months in reserves plus a letter stating we weren’t accruing more liabilities, even though they already knew we were. It seemed as though they had long since decided not to extend the loan and were hoping we’d just give up.

After meeting their newly imposed requirements over and over, it eventually became impossible to do the next thing they asked. We were so weary that we were ready to just let it go. We had done all we could do. Then a simple thought came to mind: we don’t have to come up with all that extra money and we don’t have to do everything they are asking… all this would take is for one person in underwriting to simply have a change of heart.

Suddenly it all seemed so simple, because it was going to be so much easier for us to pray for one person’s heart to change, than to pray for another $40,000 (or whatever it was – I can’t remember) to show up in our account by the next day, WITH proof that it had already been sitting there for several months, which would have been impossible to do.

Having finally come to peace with giving it our best and letting go of the outcome, we emailed to let them know that we would not be providing them the proof of the additional unexpected funds they were requiring.

The next day, our loan officer called and said that there was only one final token request (something insignificant), and it would be a done deal. There was no more mention of the large sum of money they had wanted before. It all finally went through.

The point? “You need not run faster than you have strength.” When perfection is impossible (and it always is), God can make up the difference if you will ask for His help and then believe in Him. Do your best to only ask for those things that would be in your best and highest good, and then trust Him. (More on that…)

A woman prayed: “Dear Father, I’ve been doing really well today… so far I haven’t yelled at the kids, cussed, thrown anything around in anger, overeaten, overspent, or overlooked my responsibilities… I haven’t watched too much TV, nor driven too fast. I’ve been good natured and cheerful to everyone around me… But Father, it’s morning and time for me to get out of bed. From here I’m really going to need your help.”

That’s what it comes down to: reliance on that higher power. If you choose to believe that somehow, God makes up the difference between your efforts and what’s required, then it’s that very belief which puts you in the right state of mind to receive the blessing… even when you don’t “deserve” it. In all honesty, none of us really “deserve” it. Only by the grace of God are we even breathing. So, to reach our goals, what does He require? Belief. Belief that He has a way to make up for our failings, and asking Him to help.

So, believe you can achieve your ideal life. Do what you can, and then when needed, say to yourself, “this is just going to have to be good enough.” Can you see how thinking this way is in harmony with the laws of success? If we think we aren’t doing well enough, and if we think that our inadequacy will prevent us from succeeding, then we’re right. Trust God to fill in, believe that He will, and you can succeed.

I just got hit in the head again. I’ve tried to edit this article as I’ve gone along, and now that I’m at the end I really should run through it one more time to make sure it comes across the way I wanted it to, and make sure the sentences are readable and flowey, but a precious little 5 year old has been trying to get my attention for more than two hours, so… it’s just going to have to be good enough.

Originally published February 7, 2005

Added August 8, 2015: Those of you who have been following me for a few years know that those real estate investments didn’t go so well! So yes, be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it. Here are some related follow-up articles that you may find interesting:

Gurus are Human
Human Empowerment, In Perspective

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It’s PERFECT: The Mindset that Fixes Everything

I had one week left to prepare for an important event where I would be presenting some critical information about a business deal to some very important people. A knot would tighten in my gut each time I thought about it, but I consciously did my best to breathe deeply and relax, knowing the best outcome would happen, if I could only stay in a peaceful mindset.

The night before the presentation I wasn’t quite prepared, and I knew it, not for lack of trying, but merely for lack of time. I stayed up most of the night putting together the last of my research, trying to line it up to be a cohesive, logical persuasion for those who would be making a decision the next day. How well I did at the meeting could mean the difference between thousands of dollars down the tubes, or putting us potentially more than $100,000 ahead within 2 more months.

Not long before I was to speak at the meeting, I was given some new information about others who would be in the room whom I had not expected, which added to my pressure. Besides allowing myself to become overly concerned with ‘what should I wear?!’ I also had to be concerned with whether or not my equipment would work properly, with no time to test it thoroughly first.

As the meeting began, I knew I had done all I could possibly do to prepare. I had to trust that my best would be good enough, and that my faith in God would help make up for my human deficiencies. It would have to; there was nothing more I could do.

While I intellectually relied on God to make it all ‘okay’, I couldn’t seem to quiet my stressed-out, frantic heart. I was flustered, lost my train of thought frequently, and basically ‘blew it’. The opportunity to secure $100,000 slipped through my fingers as I pushed myself to just get through the meeting and finish saying what I went there to say.

I felt sick inside. What more could I have done? I had given it everything I had. I knew the principles. I knew that ‘when something is really, really horrible, it is in actuality really, really phenomenal,’ but no matter how hard I tried to think right, I couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that it had been a disaster, and nothing more.

I tried to call my mentor to help me get my head back on straight, because I knew that was critical if I hoped to glean whatever benefit there was out of the situation. I HAD to think right, for I knew that my future circumstances depended on it. However, I couldn’t get through, and my messages were never returned.

Finally, I thought of an old friend of mine whom I knew would understand and could help. Why I didn’t think of her first, I’m not sure. I gave her a call, and she laughed with me as I told her how pathetic the meeting had been, and after I had let it all out, she told me one thing that made all the difference.

She said, ‘Leslie, the meeting was perfect. You did your best, and everything that needed to be said was said in just the right way. Those people heard just what they needed to hear, and anyway, who do you think YOU are to decide what should and shouldn’t have been said?’

I knew she was right. I had done my best to prepare, and I had turned it over to God. So who DID I think I was, to pass judgment on what God made of it? Suddenly, I began to consider that maybe my mistakes were exactly what God knew would happen, and what He allowed to happen because He had some higher good in mind for me and the others involved.

Who am I to say that the deal should have happened the way I had wanted it to happen, anyway? One thing for sure, is that when something doesn’t go the way I think it should have, it’s generally because God has something even better in mind, and He is working to knock off my rough edges to prepare me to receive the very best He has to offer.

I choose to believe that.

There are a lot of things I may never know about what ripple effects came out of that meeting. I have since been made aware of some very important ones that did. But if nothing more, it has given me a new tool for the times I am struggling to feel better about a bad situation. I tell myself now, ‘It’s perfect’ even when I don’t see how it possibly could be.

Even the most painful, difficult circumstances in our lives are ultimately for our good. They give us experience, they teach us right from wrong, they help us grow toward our greatest potential if we don’t fight it.

Okay, so I messed up a presentation. I don’t really have it all that bad, do I? Worse things have happened, and besides, in some way, I know that it was all for my good. I came away a little tougher, a little more compassionate, a little more trusting in God.

No matter how painful or embarrassing it was, it’s ultimately for your good and perfect for helping you reach your highest potential.

Whatever seems horrible in your life right now, you can choose to trust. Choose to believe that it’s the perfect thing for your personal development right now. As you calm down and believe this, you’ll find that doing so makes a huge difference in where your life goes from there.

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The Unexpected Cure for Doubt

I remember when my husband and I were trying to live on about $1200/month.  We were both working full time and fighting a losing battle to stay afloat.

We listened to motivational audios that urged us to believe in our dreams, and we knew that we could have any kind of life we really wanted, but when it came right down to it, it was always impossible to see where any extra money would ever come from.

I can see now that at the time, having faith in the face of scarcity was an impossible expectation.  Here’s why:

The thing that made it so difficult is that we knew exactly how much money we were getting, and we also knew just how much our expenses exceeded that income.

If true financial success cannot be achieved without at least some degree of FAITH (believing in something without tangible evidence), how in the world is a person supposed to have that kind of faith when all evidence proves that it’s utterly impossible?

I learned that there are three things that, over the years, helped me build that necessary faith.

  1. Continuing Education – learning new marketable skills and studying the laws of success
  2. Work – investing time, money, and energy in other income streams outside of our regular jobs.  (Even when they didn’t produce a profit – and they didn’t – for nearly 10 years!)
  3. Choosing to Believe in God, and believing that He was interested in our success – and trusting that it was being orchestrated, if we’d just kept moving our feet.

For nearly a decade, we worked and studied, and worked some more.  We believed the abundance would have to find us sometime, if we just kept trying.

It makes me think about the early settlers of my desert region:

There were a lot of ditches to dig and canals to build before they were prepared to utilize a flow of water.  I’m sure it took many, many years to put those systems in place.

As you explore your talents and look for new ways to monetize them, just picture yourself digging ditches and building canals.  It’s so easy to think that a massive, sudden flow of money would solve all of your problems, but in reality, that gush could be just as devastating as a flash flood in a valley where the settlers are trying to create a system for a steady, constant supply of water.

You don’t want the gush until your systems are in place!

It dawned on me that after my husband took the leap toward full-time self-employment (when we really couldn’t predict exactly where the money would come from like we could when we had a regular paycheck), the more trenches we dug, the easier it was to have faith in God.

Isn’t that interesting?

Having put forth so much unrewarded effort for so long, in the face of scarcity, instead of saying, “I can’t think of a single place the money could come from,”  we could more easily say, “The water could come from any one of the hundreds of trenches we dug all those years!”

Compared to our first few years together, how much easier it now was to finally believe!  How much easier it was to have faith!  And faith is the critical element.  All the work in the world without faith can be just as useless as all the faith you can muster without work.

As they say, “Faith without works is dead.”  Truly without some personal effort, faith is meaningless.  Why? Because you demonstrate your faith BY working! You’re proving your belief in the abundant life by putting forth the effort to get those money-making systems in place.

And, when faith is low, work can help it grow, too.  This is why the unexpected cure for doubt in my opinion is: Education, and WORK.

If you can’t think of where to get the money you need, shift your focus to increasing your knowledge, and get to work finding some kind of meaningful services you can perform for others.

God did not bring you this far to fail now… stay in forward motion.  Your reward is waiting for you!

For a first-class education in the principles of prosperity, join me in the Mindset Mastery Program!

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How to Survive the Downs

Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Life is like a roller coaster. When things go downhill, throw your hands in the air and smile!

Have you ever met someone whose life seems to be falling apart and they’re happy anyway? Have you ever thought, “Wait a minute, you’re supposed to be miserable and depressed!”

It’s true. There are some who are simply in denial, and who hope that the problems will go away if they just ignore them. However, there are others who feel happy even when things are going down because they know a secret.

These people can feel happy during a downturn because they know the ride never goes downhill forever. By law, it always turns upward again at the bottom – just like a roller coaster. They smile now because they’re focused on the longer term; and they’re already thinking about the joy and heights that life will take them to next.

Now, while we’re on this “roller coaster theme,” imagine you’ve saved for years to take your family to an exciting theme park on the other side of the country. You’ve pictured the laughter, the fun, the memories you plan to create: the joy of being together, the food, the free time; it’s all so very wonderful!

Now it’s finally time to take that trip. You enjoy a relaxing plane ride, settle in at the hotel, spend the night, and in the morning you have a full day to take in all of the theme park attractions. After entering the gate, you notice that just inside the entrance there are two roller coaster rides to choose from. The first one is called “Straight-Shot to Success” and goes like this:

“Straight Shot to Success”

You get on, and it pulls the line of cars all the way to the top of a twenty-story tower where ….

… it lets you off so you can climb down the stairs to do it again.

Look at the enthusiasm in this picture, just before unloading to climb down and repeat the experience all over again! (Wouldn’t it make for a pretty boring roller coaster ride? Yes. But isn’t that what we think we want out of life? A steady, predictable, safe and easy climb to success?) The thing is, if that’s what we got out of life, I think we’d feel pretty dissatisfied with the whole experience. Without the lows, the highs mean nothing.

So, let’s take a look at the second roller coaster ride called “Joy in the Journey,” which instead goes something like this:

“Joy in the Journey”

You get on, and it pulls you to the top of a big hill and then turns you loose into a series of ups and downs, loops and turns. Everyone is terrified and laughing, all at the same time.

Even when the people plummet at break-neck speeds straight toward the ground, they have a smile on their face.

Now, is that twisted, or what? Are they in denial?

No. They are genuinely enjoying themselves, because they know that the terror is temporary, that the danger is an illusion, and that it will come to an end. They know that they are in a controlled, safe environment that is simply giving them the appearance of danger. Deep down, they know everything is going to be okay in the long run.

Which rollercoaster ride do you think would have the longest waiting line? “Straight-Shot to Success,” or “Joy in the Journey?”

I choose the latter. Here’s what helps me endure the scary parts:

Believe it or not, like a roller coaster ride, Life itself is a safe environment, even with all its dangers.

Contrary to appearances, it truly is a safe place to be. From God’s vantage point, the things we fear are nothing to Him, including death itself.

Do you realize that the life you live is precisely the life you would have chosen all along? THIS is the life that brings you the greatest joy: the life with all the ups and aggravating downs. So be grateful for your downs, and as you allow your heart to swell with gratitude, you’re putting yourself into the right mindset to receive next the best “ups” that God has to offer.

The ups and downs we experience help us feel.

The change from up to down (or down to up) is precisely what makes it possible for us to recognize the difference from one emotion to the other. Like I said before, without the downs, the ups would be meaningless. The lows help us feel and appreciate the highs.

Bob Proctor says, “Most people tiptoe through life, trying to make it safely to death.” Do you see the irony in that? Instead, we should have courage and press on toward our dreams with full, fearless intention.

Fear not!

As Mark Twain said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

You have a choice of what to think about. So think on the expected highs that put a smile on your face, instead of worrying about the imagined train wreck at the bottom of the hill that hasn’t even happened yet.

It is only when your heart is at peace that it is truly prepared to receive inspired solutions to your problems.

So, if you’re headed in a downward direction, be at peace. The tracks are bent and will surely guide your roller coaster car up to the top again in time. It’s going to be thrilling! And in fact, according to the Law of Rhythm, you’re already on your way. Originally published Mar 12, 2008

Join me in the life-changing Mindset Mastery Program and I’ll help you find joy and success even in the downs.

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