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Keep the Tension Tight

By Jeff Earlywine

During the 2006 winter Olympics, Lindsey Jacobellis was alone in the clear, and could have practically crawled to the finish line and won. After an Olympic-sized flub, she probably wishes she had. Coasting to what should have been a runaway victory to a gold metal, the 20-year-old American grabbed her snowboard on the second-to-last jump before the finish line. Inexplicably - and some say inexcusably - she fell. Why??? A few hours later, in a conference call she revealed that there might have been some showboating going on. "I was having fun, she said. "Snowboarding is fun. I was ahead. I wanted to share my enthusiasm with the crowd. I messed up. Oh well, it happens."

Last weekend I was flying a kite with my six year old daughter. The wind was gusting and the kite was flying with little help from us. All of sudden, it started to spiral down to the ground. Why? Simple. We let go of the string.

What do these two stories have in common? Tension. If Lindsey had kept the tension tight she might not have come tumbling to the ground like our kite.

There are areas in our life where we need to keep the tension tight if we hope to reach our potential. That potential might be as wonderful and memorable as an Olympic gold metal, or as basic as spending time being a hero to your daughter. Either way, I don't think we will ever reach our potential if we don't keep the following in check.


If we peel back a few layers of the word focus we are able to see some very helpful ideas. Ideas such as Faith, Opportunity, Consistency, Understanding, and Self-talk. Each of these concepts could take volumes to explain in detail, but are briefly explored below.

Faith - In order to reach your personal and professional goals you must have faith in yourself. You must be willing to take calculated risks without looking back. Very few people ever accomplished great things if they didn't first have faith in themselves. You must also have faith that God is your safety net, that helping hand, that guiding light in the darkest of nights.

Opportunity - In our world today many are still searching for that "get-rich-quick scheme. I have found that true accomplishments are achieved because of being in the right place, at the right time, with the right experience, and a willingness to do the job. In order to reach your goals you must continue to focus on preparing for that next opportunity. For instance, by reading one book a month, for twelve consecutive months (on any one subject), you will be better prepared than most of the people you work with, worship with, and compete against.

Consistency - It has been said that success is found in your daily agenda. My personal trainer has told me many times how important consistency is to better health and a stronger body. Questions for you to consider Are you consistently putting 100% into everything you do? Are you consistently following a plan of action (a game plan)? Are you consistently planning for tomorrow, today (goals)? Are you consistently taking time to refocus your life?

Understanding - In order to be successful you must understand your limits. You are simply not going to be good at everything, and the things that you are good at are limited to your skill level. A good example of this is my tennis game. Not long ago I was playing a singles match, a match I was losing badly. During one of the breaks I said to myself, "Jeff, just have fun and play within your game." What I meant was enjoy the day, and hit only the shots that I knew would go in. To my surprise, and my opponent's as well, I began to play tremendous tennis. I was having fun and was soon hitting shots with confidence (faith). Remember, work, play, and live within your limits. If you stay focused long enough those limits will expand.

Self-talk - In the world of psychology this is also known as self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, what you and others say to you will more than likely happen. As mystical as this sounds it really is true. I challenge you to keep a log for a few days of all the positive and negative comments you and others say about you; don't forget your thoughts. If you are like most people, by the end of the challenge you will have many more negatives than positives. I can't tell you how important it is to say to yourself, "I can do it, I am great, I can get that sale, I can live a Christian life, I can hit that shot, etc." Just like the little train going up the mountain, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."

In order to reach new levels personally and professionally, you must stay focused. I encourage you to spend one afternoon this week contemplating what you are currently focusing on.


With schedules packed more than ever. Microwaves not being fast enough. Paying for your gasoline at the pump so you don't have to go in the store. Who has time to learn? If you are going to keep moving forward in your life you must make time to learn. Some of the best ways to learn are"

"Reading books.

"Watching people - you might be surprised at what you can learn by sitting on a bench at your local shopping mall and observing the people going by.

"Dreaming (using the power of your mind).

"Giving (of your time and talent)


In order to keep growing you must manage your daily agenda. Your daily agenda is managed with good time management techniques. The real question is "Are you the master of your time, or is it the master of you? The following concepts will help you maximize the twenty-four hours that God has given you today:

"Establish measurable goals and plans

"Know how to invest your time

"Identify and eliminate time wasters

"Know yourself and your priorities

"Take time to set and evaluate goals

"Learn to say, "No"

"Delegate, delegate, and delegate

"Group similar and like activities together

"Organize for quick and easy retrieval

"Use a calendar and a to-do list.


On August 3, 2005, Anika Logan described in her article entitled, "Laughter is good for you."

Laughter is more than just an enjoyable activity. It is very beneficial to the body and mind. It doesn't cost a cent and it is highly contagious. But is laughter really the best medicine? Read on and decide for yourself.

Everyone enjoys a good laugh, don't they? If they don't, they should! Laughter has many benefits, which in turn have positive effects on the human body. Laughter lowers blood pressure, activates the immune system, triggers the release of endorphins (the body's natural painkillers), reduces stress hormones, helps reduce pain, allows muscles to relax and is helpful for breathing as frequent laughter empties the air in the lungs. And that's just the beginning!

Remember, keep the tension tight and the priorities right, and you will accomplish more than you ever dreamed.

About The Author
Jeff Earlywine

Footprints and Monuments is a free monthly leadership and motivational e-newsletter. No names receiving this e-newsletter are sold or distributed to any other source. You are encouraged to forward this monthly article to anyone in your address book. To un-subscribe please reply back with "Un-subscribe in the subject field.

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