Today, scientific research is proving what the ancient wisdom of Scripture has known all along: Successful women think differently than the average woman. They make decisions differently, set goals differently, and bounce back from failure and adversity differently. They have a thought process that empowers them to produce the results they want—in their relationships, finances, work, health and even spiritually. I’ve been so intrigued by this topic that I interviewed successful women from all walks of life, just like you—from women in ministry to women CEOs—for my latest book, Successful Women Think Differently. This truth couldn’t be more evident than when a woman is faced with a major challenge.
The last couple of years have tested our collective resilience—the economic downturn and layoffs have certainly taken their toll on a lot of individual lives. Many of the people you serve in ministry have suffered, churches have felt the effects, and perhaps you have been impacted as well. But even if you haven’t been a victim of the economic challenges, it’s a safe bet you still know what it means to have a setback, whether in a relationship, your health, or dealing with any unexpected challenges. I know I do. I know what it’s like to land in a ditch, and I’ve also learned what it truly means to lean on God and press on in the face of adversity. What is it that allows some people to bounce back after a setback while others languish? What will empower you to become better as a result of a setback or challenge, rather than bitter?
In a practical sense, it is a set of skills—sometimes learned, other times innate—allowing you to persevere, manage stress, and triumph in the face of challenges. Faith’s at the core of these skills. Whether you need these skills for a current challenge, need a reminder of what you already know, or are looking for ways to help those you serve to be more resilient and successful in life, consider this list of five of the things resilient women do. Then use the accompanying coaching questions as a tool to transform your thinking and stretch you in faith:
1. They are authentic.
Resilient people are at peace with their humanity. Perhaps it’s because their mistakes along the way have humbled them, or life experiences have helped them accept their own vulnerability, but resilient people don’t let imperfections hinder them. They don’t think failing means being a “failure.” They learn as they go, making course corrections that lead them to positive outcomes.
Coach Yourself: In what way(s) does God want to use your imperfections or challenges to exemplify His grace and mercy?
2. They are flexible thinkers.
Even if occasionally, they struggle with negative thoughts, resilient women are self-aware enough to notice when their thinking is counterproductive. They don’t fall into thinking traps such as jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. Instead, they gather the facts they need to move around obstacles and face the challenge head on. If something isn’t working, they make adjustments until it works. They focus on the elements within their control and they exercise that control. So when faced with a cancer diagnosis, for example, they change their eating habits to aid in the recovery. When they get passed over for promotion, they find the grain of truth in the boss’ negative review and start making improvements.
Coach Yourself: In what way is God calling you to be more flexible?
3. They are (mostly) optimistic.
It’s hard to bounce back from setbacks when you see every obstacle as the end of the world! Research shows that optimists live as much as nine years longer than pessimists. Seeing the bright side’s good for your health and longevity. But it isn’t about simplistic “positive thinking.” The essence of optimism is at the root of faith, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). We must believe something good is possible, even as we prepare ourselves to withstand a storm. Proverbs 22:3 says, “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” Resilient women see risks and take precautions to prevent problems. But when faced with a challenge, resilient women are more likely to say, “I can get through this,” whether it’s a tough class at school, a relationship challenge, or the loss of a loved one. The average woman does the opposite—she allows setbacks and disappointments to discourage her to the point that she stops hoping for something better. And when you stop hoping, you start settling.
Coach Yourself: In what way(s) have you stopped hoping for something more or better? What is it time to muster the faith and boldness to hope for again?
4. They reach out.
Resilient women don’t go it alone. They have close friends and aren’t too proud to ask for help when they need it, talk out problems, or help others in need. When faced with a stressful situation, just knowing you have support can alleviate the pressure. Iron sharpens iron. Strengthen your relationships. They make you stronger.
Coach Yourself: In what way(s) are you going it alone? Who do you sense God wants you to reach out to?
5. They use their strengths.
Everyone has innate talents and strengths. When faced with a challenge, there’s power in tapping into those strengths—the God-given gifts that come naturally to you. It takes less energy to use your strengths, in fact, you are energized by your strengths. Know what yours are and use them.
Coach Yourself: What strengths has God blessed you with and how could you use them more effectively in the opportunities and challenges you face?
Valorie Burton, a Harvest House bestselling author and speaker, helps people get “unstuck” and “be unstoppable” in every area of their lives. As a Certified Personal and Executive Coach, Burton has served hundreds of clients in over 40 states and nine countries, and is the founder of The Coaching and Positive Psychology (CAPP) Institute. For more than a decade, her books, speaking engagements and media appearances have inspired and equipped thousands using solid biblical principles. For more information or to subscribe to her FREE inspiration e-newsletter visit www.valorieburton.com and visit her ministry site at www.valorieburton.org.