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8 Ways to Relieve Stress as an Entrepreneur

 

stressed babyHere I am just hours away from a writing deadline. I have a million things to do, and, I confess, I just remembered that my blog on leadership is due. I forgot to put it on my calendar, and one thing I’ve learned is that if it’s not on my calendar, I won’t remember to do it. Now I’m stressed.

Life is full of stressors. As leaders, we must learn to deal with stress in positive ways, so our influence continues to advance in healthy ways. Factors that cause us tension are innumerable to count but can include anything from life changes to job challenges, financial problems to relationship issues, and not to mention our chronic busy lifestyles.

For many people, stress is so commonplace that it has become a way of life. In small doses, stress isn’t bad and can serve to motivate us to do our best, but when we stay in a constant state of “emergency mode,” it has harmful effects on our minds and bodies, including memory problems, a weakened immune system, high cortisol levels and fatigued adrenal glands, an inability to concentrate, moodiness and irritability, feeling overwhelmed, digestive problems, disturbed sleeping, depression—and these are just to name a few.

Here are eight tips to relieve stress for a happier and healthier life:

  1. Breathe Deep. Breathing oxygenates the brain and body. Just a few deep breaths can help reduce tension, calm us down, reduce blood pressure, and relieve stress.
  1. Practice Visualization. Stop a moment, close your eyes, sit back and relax, and imagine yourself in a peaceful scene or a favorite place, or maybe visualize yourself accomplishing a desired goal. My favorite is to visualize a scripture like Psalm 23:5 or Psalm 27:5.
  1. Make a Positive Declaration. Along with visualization, I like to make a positive declaration of what I’m seeing. This also helps to stop any negative self-talk swirling inside my thoughts. I like to decree words like, “I am full of the joy of God’s presence,” or “I flourish in life through the wisdom that God gives me,” or “God directs my path, and I trust His guidance.” Negative thoughts and words work to reinforce stress; we break their hold on us when we rehearse positive truth.
  1. Pop a Peppermint! Eating and drinking something sweet is soothing because it stems the production of the stress hormone, glucocorticoid. It is why we reach for cookies or ice cream when we are stressed. The gut-brain connection is also called the “gut-brain axis,” and the gut we know is the largest of organ of our immune system. Though peppermint candy has sugar, it does contain peppermint oil that is not only cooling and energizing, but also good for digestion. It’s why restaurants often offer peppermints as an after-dinner treat. I personally enjoy peppermint not only as a treat, but also as an essential oil in my bath, in my diffuser, or externally applied for relieving stress and energizing my mood. It’s great!
  1. Plan to have fun! Put fun activities on your calendar. As entrepreneurs, it is easy to work all the time, but rest and relaxation are critical parts of a healthy life. It means turning off the whirling mind and doing something other than staring at your computer and working on your to-do list. Take time to have an outing or a new adventure with your spouse or a friend. Regularly.
  1. Dance like crazy. Movement is important to rid the body of stress toxins, whether it’s stretching, walking, or aerobics. One of the best ways to move is dancing! Dancing is a fun way to stimulate circulation, oxygenation, and help detoxify the body. It also helps brain stimulation.
  1. Get organized. Disorganization causes stress. Have you ever wasted thirty minutes looking frantically for a document or item that should have only taken you a minute to find if you’d had only been organized? I know the feeling, and it is stressful! One of the National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneur (NACWE) leaders, Paula Tobey, recently wrote a great blog titled, “7 Sanity Savers for Organizing Your Life as a Work-at-Home Entrepreneur.” I recommend her tips to help you organize your at-home business life for an enhanced stress-free lifestyle. Check out this link: http://nacwe.org/7-sanity-savers-organizing-life-work-home-entrepreneur/
  1. Get over yourself. We all are prone to focus too intensely on ourselves, and we all need the reminder to not do that. Instead, give yourself grace! Life isn’t about you, your perfection, or your ability to get everything right and fix every problem. Life is about God and His good purposes. You are simply His child on a learning journey with Him. He will work things out as you give Him every area of your life. Lean on Him for His counsel, wisdom, and understanding in all you do, and let praise carry you through what you don’t get yet.

So, what do you do to de-stress?

 

Nicole-headshotJ. Nicole Williamson is an inspirational speaker, author, and CEO of King’s Lantern International, a motivational ministry. Certified with AACC and a licensed minister with a Bachelor of Theology, she trains in personal development through empowered thinking, authentic identity, and intimacy with God. Her books include The Empowered Woman, Heaven’s Secret of Success, and Freedom in the Light. She and her husband live in the Dallas, Texas area. For more information, see www.kingslantern.com.

 

7 Tips to Create Vision and Forward Momentum

 

NicoleLeadingVisionEveryone has his or her own unique style of leadership. Personality, training, and emotional wellbeing are a few elements that impact a leader’s way of interacting with others and the decisions they make in their businesses, homes, or ministries. However, one element needed by all leaders who desire their businesses or influence to grow and advance with purpose is the ability to lead with vision rather than simply managing a status quo.

Visionary leaders are not content to simply maintain what already exists. They look for ways to improve, grow, streamline, and have wider impact or influence in what they do. They see beyond the moment. They want bigger and better.

On a recent episode of the television program Restaurant Impossible, I was impressed with how an interior designer walked into a restaurant and—despite its present condition—was able to envision something else. . .something better, fresher, and updated. She saw its potential. Once the vision was concrete in her mind, things had to be removed, rearranged, and remodeled to accommodate her vision.

How about you? What is your vision for what you are currently doing? Are you maintaining a status quo, or are you hungry for change?

If you desire something more than what currently is in your life, business, or ministry, here are a few tips that might help you to move past managing and advance with a fresh dream:

  1. Close your eyes and think about what you want to see in the future. Then, write it down. Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write the vision, make it clear.”
  2. In your description, use active words that invoke passion. Include the gifts God has given you.
  3. Make sure that your vision encompasses your beliefs and matches your goals.
  4. Keep the vision before you—make pictures of it, and create a wallboard of what you envision.
  5. Do not assume that current structures in your life will always look the same. Be open to modifying ways, means, methods, training, direction, locale, techniques, etc.
  6. Create a mission statement of your purpose and function. Your mission statement must be future-oriented, must focus on one common purpose, and should portray your business or ministry as it will be, as if it already exists. Make it one or two sentences, specific to you and not generic.
  7. Be aware of vision killers such as tradition, apathy, fear, short-term thinking, or negativity. You are destined for more and greater things—believe it, and go for it!

I hope these tips will encourage your journey as a leader. Your vision and influence matter in making this world a brighter place.

Nicole-headshotJ. Nicole Williamson is an inspirational speaker, author, and CEO of King’s Lantern International, a motivational ministry. Certified with AACC and a licensed minister with a Bachelor of Theology, she trains in personal development through empowered thinking, authentic identity, and intimacy with God. Her books include The Empowered Woman, Heaven’s Secret of Success, and Freedom in the Light. She and her husband live in the Dallas, Texas area. For more information, see www.kingslantern.com.

 

Leading Through Peace

059209-stress-womanI think most can agree that we live in a world of not only increased technology, but increased stress, too. Peace is often a bliss that escapes us, rather than a constant inward reality.

Nevertheless, whether we are business leaders, ministry leaders, or parents, our peace level is critical to our leadership and influence. Inner chaos or chronic stress not only impacts our ability to think clearly or respond appropriately, but it impacts those around us. Scientific studies have now actually given this a name—it’s called “secondhand stress.”

As leaders, we often look for peace through positive partnerships, harmonious interactions, and smooth transactions. However, conflict is a part of this world, sometimes to an extreme. While the definition of peace includes “freedom from disturbance or oppressive thoughts, harmony, and calm,” learning to keep in peace isn’t always an easy thing. Unchecked levels of personal stress not only wear us out mentally, emotionally, and physically, they can easily perpetuate a state of chaos in those we lead.

I recently took a Critical Incident Stress Management course and was impacted by one simple fact: when conflict or chaos happens, the first thing people seek is safety and stabilization—we seek peace. We look for what will bring us back to a sense of “norm.” And if we can’t find it, we may look to unhealthy ways of self-comforting. The truth is that God created us to function from a place of peace. It is no wonder that the Redeemer He sent to restore us is called the Prince of Peace.

So, how can we both live and lead in peace in the midst of a chaotic world? Here are seven helpful tips:

  1. Seek solutions, not control—We like to control life (and people) around us. And when we can’t, we get stressed and out of peace. Learning to find solutions and implement helpful changes where we can, as well as accepting what we can’t change, is important for abiding in peace. Seek out wisdom from trustworthy voices on ways to ease any conflict that is troubling you.
  1. Practice positivity—Perspective is key! Practice looking at situations from a different perspective and positive outlook. Address any mindsets that are sabotaging your peace, as well as where that mindset came in; hold them up to the clarifying light of God’s truth. Also, take time to do something you enjoy. Laugh as often as you can! Laughter is like emotional aerobics that flings away disturbances of the soul.
  1. Forgive—Bitterness and resentment war against your peace. They wreak havoc in your mind and body, elevating cortisol levels, increasing blood pressures, straining adrenals, and keeping you imprisoned in negative emotions. Forgiveness isn’t approving another’s wrong or sweeping things under the rug. It means that you don’t allow the offense to dominate you or implant a bitter root inside you. Forgiveness means to send the offense away as you commit the situation to God and look to Him for His counsel. He is able to bring about good out of something bad.
  1. Love how God made you—Celebrate who you are and the gifts you have. Don’t compare yourselves to others. 2 Corinthians 10:12 calls comparing ourselves with others as “unwise.” You are unique—celebrate it! Doing so overthrows the voices that want to oppress you with words of unworthiness or lack of value. These war against peace. Your uniqueness is a beautiful facet of His image that He wants to shine.
  1. Practice self-care—Eat healthy and exercise. Choose healthy foods that nourish brain and body activities, rather than junk food that may taste good but actually works against healthy brain and body functions and thus against inner harmony. You may be tempted to reach for an unhealthy “comfort” food when stressed, but healthy food is critical for restoring taxed adrenals. Begin to make those lifestyle changes so that eating healthy is a “norm.” Worry and stress create toxins; these wear you down at the cellular level. Another way to get rid of them is through exercise. Make a habit of 15-30 minutes a day to exercise and release those toxins from your body.
  1. Get organized—Disorder is another factor that creates stress. Set aside a day to put things in order. If you need to, hire someone to help you get organized. Peace is a by-product of order.
  1. Trust God in the uncomfortable—Practice rehearsing God’s promises, as well as past experiences where you have seen God come through for you. Exercise confidence with expectation that He who is faithful will bring you through to an expected end. And remember, the God of Peace will crush Satan under your feet…shortly (Rom. 16:20).

How about you? What do you find helpful to keep your soul in a place of inner peace?

Nicole-headshotJ. Nicole Williamson is an inspirational speaker, author, and CEO of King’s Lantern International, a motivational ministry. Certified with AACC and a licensed minister with a Bachelor of Theology, she trains in personal development through empowered thinking, authentic identity, and intimacy with God. Her books include The Empowered Woman, Heaven’s Secret of Success, and Freedom in the Light. She and her husband live in the Dallas, Texas area. For more information, see www.kingslantern.com.

The Art of Leading with Tenacity

 

SumoNicoleEvery leader will face times of overwhelming opposition and challenge. Problems can arise that seem unsolvable, impassable, or even insurmountable. The question is, how do we respond? Do we move forward with hope or give up? Do we stand firm or cave in? Do we focus on impossibilities, or do we press in to see what possibilities God has waiting to demonstrate on our behalf?

A good leader is tenacious—not in the sense of being obstinate to get what we want, but being resolute in what God has spoken to us. The word tenacity means the quality of being able to grip something firmly. The things we do as leaders in our businesses or ministries aren’t merely about what we offer but also the ideas, dreams, and directions God has given us to effect good and prosper His designs through us.

Life is full of battles. The art of tenacity is a faithful persistence rooted in the intimate knowledge that we are not walking our path alone but with the One who called us to our place and will see us through every challenge. Such challenges include an unseen enemy who works tirelessly to cause us self-doubt in who we are, doubt in what God has said, and even doubt in God Himself!

Many men and women in history who seemed plagued with failure pressed through to succeed…immensely! As a young man, Abraham Lincoln went to war a captain and returned a private. He failed as a businessman, as a lawyer, in his first try for the legislature, and again in his first attempt to be nominated for Congress. He was defeated in his application to be commissioner of the General Land Office, in the senatorial election of 1854, in his efforts for the vice-presidency in 1856, and again in the senatorial election of 1858. Did he feel miserable at such defeat? Yes! But he didn’t quit. Instead, he went on to be one of the greatest of all U.S. presidents.

As a boy, Thomas Edison was called “too stupid to learn anything” by his teachers. As a young man, he was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” And as an inventor, it took Edison 1,000 unsuccessful attempts in trying to invent the light bulb. Nevertheless, when questioned about the failures, he didn’t see it as 1,000 failed attempts but as 1,000 steps to success!

Finally, As Harriet Beecher Stowe once said, “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” Who knows? It might just be your next step forward that will be the turning of your tide and thus the tide of those under your leadership.

 

Nicole-headshotJ. Nicole Williamson is an inspirational speaker, author, and CEO of King’s Lantern International, a motivational ministry. Certified with AACC and a licensed minister with a Bachelor of Theology, she trains in personal development through empowered thinking, authentic identity, and intimacy with God. Her books include The Empowered Woman, Heaven’s Secret of Success, and Freedom in the Light. She and her husband live in the Dallas, Texas area. For more information, see www.kingslantern.com.

 

Leading with Love and Truth

 

The Value of TruthTruth is one of the highest forms of love, and love is the wellspring from which Christian leadership must flow. Our call and design to lead is more than simply achieving an endeavor or accomplishing a goal with others. We lead by the influence of our character and the power of imprint that it leaves on those who join us.

I have experienced rich personal growth from the influence of many leaders, some even life-transforming. I have also experienced the opposite—bruises left by betrayal, abuse, or dishonesty. I have had to forgive, examine my own heart, and move forward without being overwhelmed by a trusted leader’s wrong actions. No doubt, most everyone can say the same. Leaders are people and people are fallible. We all make mistakes. We are prone to misperceptions, miscalculations, and miscommunication. And while we can never prevent what another does, we can learn from those situations to better our own character as leaders.

One thing I have learned to greatly value in leadership is not the glory of perfection, but sincerity and truthfulness. A good leader not only takes responsibility for what she says and does, but also works to make sure her words ring true without deception or falsehood. Years ago, a person’s word was held in high esteem. Contracts could be made with a handshake, because truth and integrity were supremely valued. In today’s world, however, dishonesty and falsehood are, unfortunately, a common practice in every realm from civic leaders to corporate heads to education halls—and even among spiritual leaders. I, too, have had to learn to be careful that my words are sincere and not hype or misleading.

Leaders are visionaries with goals to accomplish, and falsehoods can be an easy tool to manipulate people and circumstances for personal agendas. Another word for falsehood is a lie. It is a form of communication that works to control outcomes by creating false perspectives and expectations—ones that are often intentionally never realized. Telling a “little white lie” now and then may seem unimportant to some, but such thinking can lead to a lifestyle of deception. And deception is a work of darkness.

As Christian leaders, we are to be conformed to the image of the Son as people of integrity and love without pretense. Sincere and truthful words show others that we value them. After all, God loved us so much that He sent us the Truth, and Jesus loves us enough to lead us in truth and give us His Spirit of truth. Truth and sincerity are the foundations of a true relationship, and leadership is about relationships.

In a world clouded with deceptive gimmicks and illusory means to get something, let us walk in the light with humble hearts as leaders who love enough to speak with words that are honest and true. In so doing, we achieve more than desired goals with what we do; we help shape lives with who we are.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”
Psalms 19:14

Nicole-headshotJ. Nicole Williamson is an inspirational speaker, author, and CEO of King’s Lantern International, a motivational ministry. Certified with AACC and a licensed minister with a Bachelor of Theology, she trains in personal development through empowered thinking, authentic identity, and intimacy with God. Her books include The Empowered Woman, Heaven’s Secret of Success, and Freedom in the Light. She and her husband live in the Dallas, Texas area. For more information, see www.kingslantern.com.