Do you ever get discouraged? I know I do at times. I think everyone does from time to time. Life often brings us setbacks and if we’re not careful the devil’s wedge of discouragement brings us down.

The Devil’s Wedge

Do you know the story about the wedge? It tells of the devil prospering as a result of many wars. Convinced that his superiority was already established, he decided that he no longer needed to work so hard, so he advertised his equipment for sale.

A counter full of articles greeted the customers: Gossip, Procrastination, Lies, Hatred, Prejudice, Selfishness, Greed and many other items.

But there was one item in the shape of a wedge that was not for sale: Discouragement.

The devil said, “If times get good and I want to get back into business, I can always win men and women with this. It is my favorite tool. With discouragement I can pry open and get inside a person’s consciousness when I could not get near them with any other of my tools. When I discourage people I can easily defeat them.”

The devil never did sell that piece of equipment.

Mr. Stone’s “Good” Habit

The billionaire W. Clement Stone, formed the habit in the early days of his career of saying, “That’s good!” whenever anything unexpected happened, good or bad. Mostly it was something good. But even when he learned of a something bad, he smiled and said, “That’s good.” His associates would shake their heads in resigned disbelief, while he’d move forward, look into the problem and find what was good in it. Invariably, some elements in the situation could be turned to advantage, and he would find them and, more importantly, act on them.

I can’t recall when I first heard of this habit of Stone’s. But I liked it because that is what I do whenever I face a setback. I spring into action. I look for the lessons and make changes that will turn it to an advantage.

Our Dog Days

Everyone has a day or even a a number of days in a row when nothing seems to go right. But if we understand that something good can usually be found in almost any situation, we’ll go to work on the most important part of the problem, the one that can be turned to advantage. Self-pity or inactivity cannot possibly help the situation. The only rational course to follow is to re-evaluate and move forward.

Being human qualifies us for some occasional pressure by the wedge of discouragement, but we have within us the strength to pull away and use it to our advantage. The next time you’re tempted to feel discouraged about something, try taking the attitude of W. Clement Stone. Simply say, “That’s good,” and then start finding out what is good about it.

Each time, the choice is ours to make. Abraham Lincoln said, “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end, you are sure to succeed.

Persistence, Patience and Confidence: Three of the greatest weapons we have to fight the devil’s wedge.

Any successful salesman will tell you the number one secret to being a successful salesman is patience, persistence and confidence. Most successful businesses are not built in short time spans, but with much patience, persistence and confidence. Most marriages need a lot of patience and persistence to survive the storms that can weaken and even destroy them. Great financial wealth is lost for impatient investors.

Whenever you face discouragement, keep in mind these next three things:

First, discouragement is a form of self-pity, a destructive, devil’s emotion we can all do without. And the most effective antidote for self-pity is intelligent action.
Second, within any discouraging situation, there’s almost always lurking an opportunity for growth, maturity, and future success. There’s something good about it.
And, finally, discouragement needs to be kept in its proper perspective. What may at the moment seem like the end of the world won’t seem so important in 10 days or won’t be very important in 10 months. Take the long-range view and you can’t be defeated by momentary setbacks.

The Chinese have a saying that if you live with a disaster for three years, it will turn into a blessing.

Three Things to Do Next:

1.  Comment: What do you do when you get discouraged?  What advice do you have?

2.  Share: If you like this story, share our link Work Life Balance on your facebook, twitter, blog or site.

3.  Take this Exercise: The article talks a lot about being positive.  Take a recent discouragement you’ve faced and think about what good might come from it.

image courtesy of pink sherbert photography