“This whole thing is freaking me out!” were are the words I gasped when I walked into my home in Rockwall, Texas. Every cabinet was open, every electronic was gone, every Christmas gift was missing from under the tree, and photo albums filled with memories were no longer in the bookshelves.

My home had been vandalized and stripped. I felt violated. In that moment, life felt unsafe and uncertain. What was my home became just a ransacked house.

It’s likely why I’ve had such deep compassion and understanding when I have heard those exact words from clients, friends, and students regarding covid-10 over the past several weeks.

In my case someone, in our current situation, something, invaded us unexpectedly, and made places that once seemed safe suddenly feel terribly unsafe.

Today I hope to present some new and inspiring ways to move forward. You’ve heard of the 80/20 rule? My definition is that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people, who are 100% committed. Today I heard one of my mentors, Pete Vargas III say something that is similar, but even more powerful.

He said, “In challenging situations, out of 12 people:

  • 5 will surrender
  • 5 will retreat
  • 2 will ADVANCE FORWARD to their Promised Land!”

I realized that what he said put new words on a pivotal decision I made years ago after my home was burglarized.

I understand being “freaked out.“ I was so freaked out that I could not wait to get a “for sale” sign up in front of my home after the robbery. I surrendered and I retreated.

I am fully aware that we are in the middle of a serious health challenge. There is much to be concerned about. I highly recommend you follow recommended guidelines (washing your hands often, covering your cough or sneeze with your elbow, etc.)  But surrendering and retreating are not options that will help you. Quite the contrary!

What might surrendering look like at this point? Becoming negative, rehearsing all of the horrible possibilities you’re seeing/hearing about on every type of media, or losing hope that everything, or more specifically… your situation, will ever work out.

What might retreating look like at this point? Allowing yourself to slip into depression or anxiety, or worse yet… helplessness and/or hopelessness. Slipping into that dark hole is something very familiar to me. For many years I called it, “the dark hole in my soul.

A few months ago, my friend, Vikki Burke, released a book with the title: It’s Dangerous Out Here! Little did she know at that time how relevant the title would be. It’s very similar to what I’ve told my clients for years about slipping into the hole of depression, anxiety, hopelessness … I’ve warned them: “It’s dangerous in there!“ (If you’ve not read Vikki’s book, filled with the undeniable reality of God’s supernatural protection at work, click here to order it now!) 

Because I learned many lessons years ago after my home was vandalized, I immediately made a decision a few weeks ago when covid-19 took over the news … I will not surrender! I will not retreat! I will advance forward!

This is not the time to surrender or retreat… and I’m hoping I can share some valuable steps in a manner that will inspire you to join the “let’s advance forward“ revolution! I know it’s in you!

Tony Robbins sent out an email this week that spoke directly to what I’d like to share. I will borrow some of his words.

He said, “ Faith is what fuels us through times of fear and uncertainty. It is more powerful than any emotion, even fear. When all hell is breaking loose, it gives us the ability to find our center, to help ourselves and others to find answers, to find a higher meaning in the midst of our pain and in spite of our fear. And if you’re a leader, you take that certainty and transfer it into others, because human conviction has a viral effect and will spread. You bring unwavering certainty to chaotic environments through the power of your faith.”

You may read that and say… “But I’m not a leader!“… Or… “Thank God I’m not a leader right now!“

But that is simply not true. We are all leaders. We are leaders to our children (even our adult children), we are leaders to our families, we are leaders to people we work with, we are leaders to our neighbors and friends. You may not have a title of leadership, but right now, everyone is looking for someone who will lead and not follow. What do I mean by “not follow”? Not follow what? Not follow the doom and gloom that’s being broadcast through every form of media. Not follow surrendering. Not follow retreating.

People are looking for someone to lead the way to something better. Yesterday, I went into Walmart to pick up a few essentials. When I walked in the door, one of the greeters that I’m always glad to see said to me, “You know what I love about you? I love it that you bounce in here like it’s the best day of your life! People are dragging in here downcast, and you can just see the fear in their eyes. Thank you for bringing a little hope through the door.“

Under ordinary circumstances, I would have given that sweet man a big hug! What he didn’t know was that weeks ago, I made the decision that I would NOT surrender, I would NOT retreat, and I WOULD ADVANCE FORWARD!

You may think, “Well obviously you have been totally unaffected by this.“ Actually, that is not true. I missed a major workshop that I’ve been waiting months for … that I needed to take the next steps forward in my business. It was postponed for another year. In addition, I have had a number of clients cancel their appointments. And … sadly, I have friends who have been diagnosed with covid-19. I am not unaffected by circumstances, but I am unaffected by anything that would cause me to consider surrendering or retreating. Because I have made up my mind to advance forward!

I’d like to share a few things that helped me when I made this decision years ago. I believe if you will adopt and practice them, they will be majorly helpful to you at this time also! And you will advance forward!

  1. Practice gratitude. In a climate where there is so much fear and concern, we forget the many things that we still have to be grateful for. Today I worked with a client who has a parent struggling with covid-19. After allowing him to pour out his anger at the people who may have exposed his father, and hearing all of the scenarios about what would happen if his father died (and empathizing and validating), I asked him what he had to be grateful for in this situation. He looked at me as if I had lost my mind and snapped his response: “absolutely nothing!“

Just about eight weeks prior, his father had been doing some mission work in remote parts of Africa. I asked him if he was thankful that he was back in the US and was receiving excellent medical care? Although a bit resistant, he nodded. I asked him if he was grateful that both his mother and another sibling were able to be there with him? He nodded, and commented that his sister was softening after many years of bitterness with their father. I was getting ready to present my third thing that he might be grateful for when he spoke up and said, “I am grateful that I am able to work remotely, and can go and help out if they need me.“

By the end of the session I asked him how he felt, and his response was one word: “Hopeful!“ I asked him if he thought that it would be more helpful to his mother and his sister if he were advancing forward, or if he continued to surrender and retreat? He got it and smiled. Then he said what many of my clients say when I help them practice gratitude, “That gratitude thing really works!”

2. Turn off the news. Although I’m a big believer in staying up-to-date on current events locally, nationally and globally. I choose to read the headlines for about 10 or 15 minutes daily. As I stated last week, the clanging noise, the flashing lights, the argumentative styles that many news outlets use affect our brains tremendously, almost in a hypnotic fashion. Watching the gloomy news stories run again and again do nothing but introduce ongoing distress into your mind and heart.

3. Make a short-term power plan. I learned that anytime I face challenges, that I, like everyone else, run the risk of allowing the challenge to pull me toward surrender or retreat. When I learned the training I had been waiting for for almost a year was postponed for another year, I could have sat around and moaned about how covid-19 with setting me back or holding me back. I could have become angry with the workshop host who was negatively effecting my ability to move my business forward. But instead I immediately put together a short term power plan.

I decided that because he has a heart to help people succeed just as I have a heart to help people heal and find freedom … that he probably does what I do. I give away my most valuable info in my blogs, on my Facebook LIVE broadcasts, and on Podcasts. I decided to

  • Watch at least one broadcast, or listen to one of his podcasts, or read one of his blogs daily. Hoping I would find most of what I would learn embedded there. (So far I have learned a ton!)
  • Hire a consultant with expertise in this area to help me progress forward. I am in that interview process now.
  • Sign up for his hour webinar on Saturday that lasted three hours. It was rich in content, and I had the opportunity to ask some key questions.

My power plan is already paying off in spades. Perhaps you are someone who has lost your job, or has had your hours dramatically reduced. Put together a short-term power plan. I have helped dozens of people re-purpose their skills to keep their income going during this time of challenge. There are great opportunities and resources! But you won’t find them in surrender or retreat.

4. Spend time with other people who are advancing forward. I’m very aware we can’t gather in groups, and we are all sheltering in place. I’m not just speaking about going in person to spend time with people. Are you spending time on your phone (whether talking, texting, or emailing), with people who are retreating and surrendering? Or are you spending time with people who are advancing forward? I have a 3 to 1 rule for myself. I spend time (whether on YouTube, phone, email or in person) that are advancing forward three times more then the time I spend reaching out to people who are surrendering and retreating. Reaching out to those are certainly a big part of my mission, but I know if I am spending all of my time with those who are surrendering and retreating, I will wear myself out and leave myself at risk.

I shared that with one of my clients today, and her response was, “You mean you think I should kick my husband to the curb?“ We both laughed. I told her that she could shelter in place and spend some time in another room communicating with others who are determined to advance forward!”

5. Spend as much time and effort taking care of the state of your heart, and the state of your mind, as you spend taking care of preparing food and eating. I know! I know! In Texas we would say, “Them is fighting words!“ Most of us (who do not struggle with eating disorders) make time to prepare food and enjoy time spent eating food. We don’t complain that it requires time and effort.

I have a good friend who spends a lot of time preparing beautiful salads to eat. He used to send me pictures that looked like they came out of a Culinary magazine. But are we willing to spend the same time and effort to take care of our state of mind, and the state of our heart? I

In order to thrive we all need three things:

  • Spiritual growth
  • Personal growth
  • Opportunities to reach out and help others

Those are the three things that set us up to thrive, and give us the strength encourage to advance forward in difficult times!

I hope you will make the decision to be one of the people who behaves as a leader, and inspires others to carry-on during a difficult time. Doing so could help so many others during this time. Not to mention that it will solidify your resolve to advance forward!

I hope this has inspired you to set a new standard in your life during this season. These are not the first challenges you’ve experienced and they will not be the last. But after deciding to ADVANCE FORWARD the first time, it will be natural in the future!

Making the decision to advance forward in difficult times is a powerful decision that brings certainty, fulfillment, and many new opportunities.

Surrendering and retreating allows challenges to define you. Advancing forward gives us the opportunity to define how it will affect us and those around us.

Will you join the revolution and be one of the courageous people advancing forward? I believe you will! If I can support you in it, I would be honored to do so.