5 Ways to Defeat Discouragement

We’ve all had a bad day from time to time. Sometimes that day turns into a bad week or month.

Life happens and we often times can feel like we got the bad end of the stick.

Maybe you were overlooked for a promotion, didn’t get the job or received a pay decrease at work.

It could be that a relationship has been strained lately or you got hit with some unexpected expenses.

A difficult child could be getting you down or things in general may not be going your way.

All of these can easily bring about discouragement if you let them. And honestly, nobody would blame you for feeling that way. It’s normal and natural.

The question is, how do you rise above your circumstances and not allow the situation to get the best of you?

The good news is, you can.

Here are 5 Ways to Defeat Discouragement:

1) Remember that your circumstance doesn’t define you. It’s easy to allow a setback to cause you to think negatively. Don’t let it. Your life is not defined by a tough time. You have been created for great things and this situation is just a small part of a bigger plan.

2) Choose to be grateful in the middle of the situation. Thankfulness is the key to focused happiness in life. It’s amazing how perspective can change when you focus on all the things that are going right, instead of things that are going wrong.

In addition, you may be tempted to think you are the only one going through a hard time, but there is always someone that has it worse.

3) Look for something you can learn from the challenge. Learning from our challenges is a huge gift that can make us better and be used to make others better in the process. Leverage it. The bitterness you may be experiencing can be turned to thankfulness for what you learned.

4) Remind yourself that better days are ahead. There is a great scripture in the Bible that says, “The end of a thing is better than it’s beginning.” Don’t focus on the setback, focus on the good that is coming next.

5) Do something that energizes you. A tough day, week or month can zap your energy fast. What is that thing that brings you life when you do it? For some, it may be as simple as a good nap to regain energy and perspective. For others it may be a walk or time with friends. Maybe it’s a movie, reading a good book, getting outdoors or prayer. Whatever the case, recharge your batteries. You need that and you will be better because of it.

Bad days are a part of life, but so are good days. Here’s to more good days ahead and defeating the discouragement in the process.

Be encouraged. You were created for great things.

Go live with purpose today.

How to Make Massive Progress

This is a monumental week in our family’s life. Our daughter graduates high school.

Last week, I dropped her off for her last day of school. It seems like yesterday that we dropped her off for her first day of preschool.

As the expression goes, “Time flies.”

The reality is, however, that there was a lot of time that passed between those years. 14 to be exact. That’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 days. It just seemed to pass quickly, but we still had the time available to us.

It’s what we do with that time that matters most.

For many, time passes us by and we are not really sure how it happened or what happened. Life just happens.

We have goals, dreams and desires, but something inherently keeps us from those things. That thing is many times mindset.

I call this, “Home Run Thinking”. It’s the mindset that we have to have the perfect situation happen before we score. (ie. achieve our goals, dreams and desires) In other words, to play off the baseball analogy, we are waiting for the perfect pitch and the perfect swing that produces a home run before we can score.

I think there is a better approach.

Go for singles.

I call this, “Base Hit Thinking.” In other words, just get on base. If you and your team get enough base hits, you will eventually score.

Apply this mindset to your life and go for small wins every day. “Get a base hit.”

For example if you are trying to drop 5 pounds, don’t think you have to spend 5 hours in the gym a day. You may just need to be consistent with a daily brisk walk and better choices of what you eat.

If you want to write a book, don’t think you need to take a month off and write 8 hours a day. You may just need to give yourself a goal of writing 500 words a day, every day. It’s your “base hit”.

You can apply this strategy to any area of your life: your relationships, your finances or your spiritual life. The important thing is to start.

Don’t fear failing. Fear not starting.

Don’t every underestimate the power of small daily wins. That’s where momentum builds.

Build enough momentum and you will eventually get where you want to go.

Go for it. You’ve got this one.

How To Become a Better Leader

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably encountered poor leadership.

The frustrating thing comes when you are in that situation and feel helpless to do anything, because the leader is convinced it’s their way or the highway. It may have been a boss or co-worker, but at the end of the day poor leadership is a major hindrance to moving forward.

John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

I believe he’s right.

Leadership is influence. We all have influence with someone. How we leverage that influence makes all the difference in the world.

I believe it starts with a mindset.

Good leaders believe they are there to serve others. Bad leaders believe the others are there to serve them.

You want to be a good leader.

Here are three ways to leverage your influence and bring value to those you serve.

1) Communicate Clarity. Nothing frustrates people more than a lack of clarity. Those who serve with you should know the “What” they are being asked to do, “How” to do it and the “Why” it matters. Communicate those things clearly when you cast vision, lead meetings and have conversations and you will create a winning team.

2) Show Care. Showing value to those you lead is a massive priority. Value comes in all kinds of ways. You can show you care by asking and listening to their input, honoring them by compensating them well (if it’s an employee), thanking them often and doing it publicly.

Get creative. I heard of one employer that hires it’s staff at X amount per year, but then budgets for additional cost on top of that. They use the additional cost to send the staff on occasional paid date nights with their spouse or getaways to keep marriages in their organization strong and honor spouses who often times sacrifice as well.

I heard of another leader who surprised the staff with ordering an ice cream truck to show up at work mid day and treated everyone to ice cream for a job well done.

3) Create Community. No one likes to be a “clock puncher”, but people love to be a part of a thriving community and team. Get creative in shaping a fun culture with those you lead.

I love hearing stories like one friend of mine who has midday ping pong competitions with the staff and Guitar Hero challenges.

Why not create theme days and hand out prizes for the most creative participant? Pixar Studios is legendary for this type of thing. It creates an incredibly fun culture.

People will actually work harder and never want to leave the company because they know you are “for” them. You become a giving leader instead of a taking leader.

I’ve been in leadership positions for 20 years and I can tell you that when one of these three elements are missing, it’s like a leg missing on a three legged stool. It just doesn’t hold up.

Be purposeful with this three fold strategy in your leadership and I believe you will create a winning team.

10 Simple Ways to Become a Likable Leader

My favorite show on television is Shark Tank.

I DVR every episode.

I love watching the ideas entrepreneurs come up with and seeing the Sharks give feedback to the business owners on how they can succeed.  I find it fascinating and I’ve learned a lot about life and business from the show.

Barbara Corcoran, Shark Tank celebrity and business mogul said,  “If people like you, they’re going to want to do business with you. And if they don’t, you’re going to have an almost insurmountable obstacle to overcome.”

This statement is not only true of business, but in personal relationships as well.

People want to do business and personal relationships with people they like.

This topic is relevant to all of us because we all are in the “people business” in some form or fashion.

At our very core, we are hardwired to want to be liked.  We need relationships.  If we don’t have them, life becomes a challenge.

It reminds me of Tom Hank’s character in the movie, Castaway.  Out of sheer desperation and loneliness, he created a fictitious character named Wilson out of a volleyball, just to have a friend.

We all want to create better relationships and connections with people.  Better connections happen when people like us.  And when we have something of value to offer, it creates a win-win for everybody involved.

When we get this right, we advance at work faster, create more and better relationships easier and add value to the world around us.

Here are 10 Simple Ways to Become a More Likable Leader:

1)  Smile.  Experts tell us we have only a few seconds to make a good first impression.  A smile is the fastest way to communicate acceptance and welcome.  If people know that you accept them, it creates an immediate bridge to connection.  Nothing communicates a disconnection faster than a frown.  Be aware of what your face is communicating and make sure a smile is one of the first things the other person notices.

2) Be a Good Listener (and put the phone away).  In our fast paced world of technology, it’s so easy to get distracted.  Our attention spans are getting less and less.  Resist the urge to keep checking your phone while your speaking to someone.  Better yet, put your phone out of sight.  This communicates huge respect. Be a good listener and respond with good questions.

3) Maintain Good Eye Contact.  We all have a tendency to want to pay attention to what is going on around us.  Unfortunately, consistently looking over the person’s shoulder at the next “shiny object” (“Squirrel!”) is a quick way to disconnect and cause a person to not like you.  One tip to help maintain eye contact: Notice and pay attention to the person’s eye color. It will help you to make eye contact easier. A good rule of thumb is to use a 10 to 1 ratio for eye contact.  Maintain eye contact for about 10 seconds and break contact for 1 second.  That will keep you interested without looking creepy.

4) Focus on the Interests of the Other Person.  People love to talk about themselves and what they are interested in.  Find out what interests them and you will never run out of things to talk about.  Focusing on their interests makes them feel like the most important person in the room.

5) Keep It Positive.  No one likes a Debbie Downer.  I’m not saying you need to become Pollyanna, but stay away from the complaining.  Consistent complaining is a sure fire way to repel another person.  Look for the positive and keep a good attitude.  Positivity in a negative world will help you to stand out and become contagious. People love connecting with positive people.

6) Use the Person’s Name.  A person’s name is the one of the most sweetest sounds to their ears.  Use it sparingly in a conversation, but use it.  If you are meeting someone for the first time, using their name will also help you to remember their name after you meet them.

7) Lean In.  Leaning in slightly while having a conversation is a great tool to use for better connection.  It helps the person to know your interested and engaged with what is being said.

8) Watch Your Body Language.  In certain situations it’s been said that body language makes up  55% of our communication, tone  of voice represents 38% and actual words spoken represent only 7%.  While those percentages vary based on context, our body language is extremely important in how we connect and communicate with others.  Our body language can communicate disinterest (folded arms, slouching, looking away) or interest (positive facial expressions, nodding head, etc.)  Use it well and you will become more likable.

9)  Have Variety in Your Voice.  As mentioned above, tone of voice can make up a large part of our communication.  If you’ve ever listened to someone who speaks in a quiet, mumbling, monotone voice, you know it’s very difficult to stay interested.  Use some variety and appropriate volume in your voice and you will have an easier time commanding attention.  Your voice is like an instrument.  It can be played very well or not so well.  No one likes to hear the same note played over and over.  Slight variety peaks interest.

10)  Stay Connected.  To set yourself up from the crowd and create lasting value, stay connected with your relationships you develop.  I heard of one business executive that writes 5 hand written notes every morning.  Who wouldn’t like someone that shows that kind of value to them?  Social media, text messages and phone calls also are an easy way to create a quick connection that shows the other person you care and think they are important.

These aren’t the only ways to become a more likable leader, but put these in practice and I guarantee you will create more value for others and for yourself.

Go be likable this week.

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7 Ways To Guard Your Marriage

For leaders that are married, what happens at home is more important than what happens at work.

Nothing derails a leader’s reputation faster than an affair.  In fact, most of us can name people we know whose lives have been derailed by the devastation of unfaithfulness.

No one enters a marriage with the intention of having an affair, yet many relationships end up in this demise.

According to one study published by Journal of Marital and Family Therapy in 2014, 41% of marriages polled had a spouse that admitted to a physical or emotional affair.

Although other studies indicate a lower percentage, infidelity can happen.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to.

Here are 7 Ways To Guard Your Marriage:

1)  Make Your Spouse a Priority.

This may sound counter intuitive, but I believe your spouse should be a bigger priority than your children.  I recently read an article that stated the new divorce demographic was empty nesters. They had invested everything they had into their children and very little into their marriage.  The result?  No connection.  Your marriage will most likely outlast the time your children are under your roof. They need to see the example and you need the connection.  Make your spouse a priority and they are less likely to seek fulfillment somewhere else.

2)  Establish Healthy Boundaries

Most studies indicate that infidelity happens between people that know each other.  In other words, it starts with a friendship. According to Focus on the Family, 60% of affairs happen at work.

Establishing healthy boundaries between the opposite sex is key.  This may seem old fashioned to some, but personally, I’ve established boundaries where I won’t meet with a woman alone without the door open.  I also don’t ride alone in a car alone with a woman.  I have a guideline that I do not have meals alone with the opposite sex either.  Of course, these are my personal convictions, but I believe they portray a love and a respect for my wife.

3)  Surround Yourself With the Right People

I recently heard about a connection between those that engaged in an affair and friends that did also.  In other words, having a friend that had an affair made it easier to engage in one themselves.

Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you associate with.”  Choose your friends wisely.

My wife, Jacque and I benefitted greatly from several couples throughout our 21 years of marriage and counting that have been great mentors and examples to us.  Surround yourself with great marriages and your marriage is likely to benefit as well.

4)  Keep It Professional

As mentioned above, most affairs happen between friends and co-workers.  As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to keep personal and intimate details of your life only to be shared with your spouse and trusted friends of the same sex.  Establishing emotional connections, especially for women to men can lead you down a path you didn’t intend to go on.  There is a great proverb in the Bible that says, “Above all, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of your soul.”

Keeping conversations professional between friends and co-workers of the opposite sex is a great guideline to have.  Flirting, course joking and excessive non-related work time spent with the opposite sex are inappropriate and can be a slippery slope.

One side note to the women.  Dress modestly and be modest with the attention you show a man that is not your husband.  Most men thrive on attention and words of affirmation.  Especially from a woman.  Keep it professional and everyone will win in the long run.

5)  Have a Regular Date Night

My wife, Jacque and I have practiced this for years.  This habit has had a tremendous benefit on our marriage.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  Carve out intentional time to invest in your marriage and your relationship will thrive because of it.

6)  Use Your Spouses Love Language Often

Hands down, the most helpful marriage book I’ve ever come across is, The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  We all have a primary love language we like to receive.  The five Gary Chapman identifies are:  Words of affirmation, gifts, quality time, acts of service and physical touch.  Find out your spouse’s love language and use it often.  I promise, it will do wonders in your marriage to connect you emotionally and physically, bringing greater fulfillment and joy.

7)  Pray For Your Marriage

Jacque and I are people of faith.  We believe God created marriage and desires our marriage to thrive.  There is nobody else that knows you better and is in your corner than Him.  Pray for your spouse and your marriage daily.  I believe if we honor God, He will honor and bless our marriage.

Here’s to many successful years of a thriving marriage.  Go be awesome this week.


5 Simple Habits That Improve Your Marriage

My wife, Jacque and I have been married for 21 years.  I can honestly say I love her more now than when we were first married.

One thing we’ve learned over the years is a great marriage is not the result of doing something that works once and living off that success for years to come.  A great marriage is the result of consistent simple habits that produce ongoing connection in your relationship.

A habit by definition, is an action or behavior that is repeated on a regular basis that brings about a specific result.

Here are 5 Simple Habits That Will Improve Your Marriage.

1)  Hug and kiss daily.

In our busy lives it’s easy to go days or possibly even weeks without physical contact.  It sounds simple, but physical touch is a powerful thing that was designed to connect two people together.  For some, it’s easy to pick a “trigger” that reminds you to do a certain habit.  Possibly the trigger is getting ready for bed or  leaving for work.  Whatever the case, make time daily to give physical touch, even if it’s a quick kiss and hug to your spouse and you will connect easier on a deeper level.

2)   Share life giving words with your spouse.

We live in a world that can beat us up from time to time.  Heartfelt words, even if shared through text message, can bring life to your spouse and in turn, bring life to your relationship.  Don’t underestimate showing appreciation, affirming something positive about your spouse or a simple, “I love you.”.

3)  Pray together.

We happen to be people of faith.  There’s not much that brings two people closer together than a prayer.  Pick a time that works best for you, like before bed or before a meal.  I have to admit, we don’t do this as much as we should, but the times we do this have been great for our marriage. Make it a point to pray for each other and your marriage.

4)  Serve Each Other.

Jesus said, “It’s better to give than receive.”  The great thing about serving your spouse is that it ends up benefiting both of you. Husbands, can you pick one household chore a day to help around the house with?  Maybe putting the dishes away or throwing a load of laundry in the washing machine.  Studies show that most women are more attracted to their husbands when they perform acts of service.  Ladies, can you pick one way to serve your husband?  Maybe it’s cooking his favorite meal or doing something for him that he values.  Serving each other shows you’re willing to think about your spouse’s interests and not just your own.  In turn, it creates a strong connection between you both.

5)  Go to bed together.

I realize this may not be possible for couples where one spouse works a graveyard shift. However, when possible, make it a habit to go to bed at the same time together.  It doesn’t mean you have to fall asleep at the same time, but spending time together before you go to sleep has many benefits.

These aren’t the only helpful habits that can improve your marriage, but if you put them into practice they certainly will add value to you and your spouse.

Here’s to a great marriage.  Go be awesome this week.

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10 Powerful Practices That Get You Out of a Funk

We’ve all experienced it.

The Funk.

Feeling like your life at the moment is stuck in park and your zest for life has temporarily been zapped.  If you’re there now or have been there, know you are not alone.

Perhaps it’s a dead end job that has you down.  Or maybe the lack of a job.  It could be a challenging relationship or lack of one altogether.  It could be just life in general has you down.

Whatever the case, the good news is, even if your circumstances don’t immediately change, your attitude can.

Here are 10 Powerful Practices That Can Get You Out of That Funk.

1) Be Specific About What You Are Grateful For.  

Gratefulness has a way of changing your perspective almost immediately.  Instead of focusing on what you don’t have at the moment, what can you be thankful for that you do have?  The daily practice of gratefulness has been life changing for me.

2) Listen to Music That Puts You in a Good Mood.

Music is one of the most powerful tools on the planet.  It has the power to change your mood by tone, beat, melody and words.  What music puts you in a great mood?  Crank it up and watch your mood begin to change.

3) Serve Others.

Sometimes we can get so inward focused that we forget we were created to serve others. Serving and focusing on others, even in small ways, takes your mind off yourself, helps regain perspective and brings meaning and purpose into your life.

4) Engage In Something You’re Passionate About.

We all have something that we love to do.  Something that “fills us up”.  Something that causes time to stand still and brings us energy.  I have a friend that loves camping.  He has made a goal to go camping 10 times this year.  What are you passionate about?  Do it more often.

5) Spend Time With a Life Giving Friend.

We become the average of the five friends we associate with the most. There are life sucking people and life giving people.  Live giving conversations are priceless.  Spend time more time with the life giving people and eliminate the negative ones.

6) Get More Sleep.

Lack of sleep in and of itself can be a real downer.  It contributes to poor decision making, exhaustion and an irritable mood.  Even a good nap can radically change your perspective.  Go to bed earlier and skip the television show or internet. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

7) Go For a Walk.

Getting some fresh air and exercise has profound positive effects on our life.  It helps us think creatively and kicks our endorphins into gear which leads to a more positive mood.  I like to go for a daily walk in the morning which has had amazing effects in jump starting my day.

8) Watch Something Funny.

There is Proverb in the Bible that says, “Laughter is good like medicine.”  Studies have shown that hearty laughter even helps reduce pain.  Unfortunately, studies also show that as humans age out of childhood, they laugh considerably less.  Make a commitment to find things that make you laugh and live a better life.

9) Read Encouraging Scripture.

I’m a person of faith who loves to read the Bible.  Some of my favorite Scriptures remind me of what God has done for me and how much He loves me.  One of my all time favorites is Romans 8:28.  “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”  For me, nothing trumps the power of encouraging Scripture.

10) Do Something Fun.

How many times do we find ourselves in a rut, doing the same things over and over yet expecting different results?  Take yourself out of your normal routine and go do something fun.  What if you did something out of the ordinary, like go carting or bowling with your family or a friend?  Do something that will make you laugh and put a smile on your face. What is fun to someone else, may not be fun to you.  Do something you would enjoy. And really enjoy it!

Here’s to getting out of that funk!  Go be awesome this week.



What I Would Tell My Younger Self

I recently turned 44 years old. Age has a way of bringing wisdom with it. Here are 5 things I would tell my younger self if I could go back in time:

1) Relationships are the most important thing in life. Your relationship with God and friends/family trump money every time.

2) Money is a tool that can be used to bless your family and help others. Earn a lot of it, own it, but don’t let it own you.

3) An attitude of gratitude is the best way to start every day.

4) A great marriage begins with looking for ways to serve and show love to your spouse, not always looking for ways to serve yourself.

5) Giving of yourself (your time, words, resources and talents) is one of the greatest joys in life.

You were created to do great things. Go be awesome this week.

Small Things Lead to Big Change

Daily Routine


Good daily habits are the key to long lasting success.

Here are 3 that have made a big difference in my life:

1) Made the decision to wake up earlier.

2) Take a daily walk to energize my morning.

3) Start the day with gratitude, reflecting on what I am thankful for.

What is one daily habit you have found to bring you success?

Are You Making This Mistake In Your Marriage?

My wife, Jacque and I were several years into our marriage when I realized I was missing the mark on something.

Photo credit: hotblack from morguefile.com

One night she looked at me with tears welling up and said, “You don’t help me around the house.”  Boom.  She was right and I knew it.

She did such a great job making our house a home and I guess I just figured “she had that part covered.”  Boy was I wrong.  I had to apologize and work on making some changes.

What I came to realize was my mistake.  I wasn’t speaking her love language.

Gary Chapman in his best selling book, The 5 Love Languages, says there are five basic love languages we all relate to.  When someone speaks our “language”, it connects with us and fills our love tank.  When someone doesn’t speak our language our love tank stays empty which can lead to frustration and disappointment.  Not good.

Here are the 5 Love Languages:

1)  Acts of Service

2) Words of Affirmation

3) Quality Time

4) Physical Touch

5) Gifts

Coincidently, we often times give what we desire the most.  It’s usually a key indicator that is our love language.

For example, my wife’s off the chart love language is acts of service.  She loves to serve and do things for others.  It comes naturally to her.  As a result, she also likes to receive that back.

When I finally got a clue and “spoke her language”, it changed everything.  It’s amazing how it works.  However, it was a difficult transition for me because acts of service is probably my weakest love language.  I had to work on giving that, but the effort was worth it because it brought tremendous value to our relationship.

My love language happens to be words of affirmation.  I love it when people say nice things about me.  However, Jacque’s weakest love language is affirmation.  She had to work on speaking that language because it doesn’t mean as much to her to receive it.

Are you curious what your or your spouse’s love language is?  The good news is you can find out for free.  Simply go to the online tool and take the multiple choice assessment.  http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/ It even works for your children.  (The 5 Love Languages book by Gary Chapman is excellent as well.)

Once we figured our love language out it was truly a game changer for our marriage.  It can be for you too.  Go ahead and take the assessment.  You’ll be glad you did.  I know we are.

Here’s to many happy years of marriage!

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  What’s your love language?  What’s your spouse’s? 

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