The 10 Percent Solution

A few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting with a leading psychologist who told me something amazing. He had built his career around working with deeply troubled married couples who had been damaging their relationships for decades. He enjoyed remarkable success in getting these warring spouses to turn the corner toward health. Counseling is not my greatest gift, so his obvious skill sparked my curiosity. How did he do it?

“I just try to get 10 percent improvement,” he said. “When couples get that 10 percent improvement, they get hope. And when someone gets hope, anything is possible.”

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The Greatest Single Human Being I Have Ever Met

I walked out of his house in the hills above Hollywood, telephoned my wife, and said, “I have just met the greatest single human being I will ever meet.” His name is Louis Zamperini. At age ninety-six, he is also one of the most energetic.

Over the course of my four-hour interview, it seemed that Louie’s life story could be described with three words: it gets worse.

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What Happens When People Lose Hope?

When spouses lose hope, they give up on their marriage. Parents give up on their teens. Leaders give up on their people. Healthy emotions like contentment and peace are replaced with the toxic emotions of confusion, shame, worry, and disappointment. In short, it’s impossible to be spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, or relationally healthy when we’re gripped by discouragement.

Howard Hendricks gave a gripping definition of discouragement: “Discouragement is the anesthetic the devil uses on a person just before he reaches in and carves out his heart.” He’s right. When people lose hope, they lose their ability to dream for the future. Despair replaces joy. Fear replaces faith. Anxiety replaces prayer. Insecurity replaces confidence. Tomorrow’s dreams are replaced by nightmares. It’s a lousy way to live.

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The Greatest Gift You Can Ever Give

Some wise person once said that we can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air—but not a single second without hope. And that is why . . .

  • the greatest gift leaders can give their people—hope.
  • the greatest gift parents can give their children—hope.
  • the greatest gift teachers can give their students—hope.
  • the greatest gift coaches can give their athletes—hope.

It’s also why . . . Continue reading

The Most Important Question

Some conversations change your life. You just don’t expect them to be with one of your kids.

Several years ago, my daughter, Leslie, came home from school and said, “Dad, I have to write a paper on a leader.”

“Yeah?” I said.

“I picked you, and the teacher said it was okay,” she said.

Yeah . . .” I said, growing wary.

Without hesitating, she laid it out before me. “I have twenty questions. This is going to be at least a two-hour interview, and you have to answer them all honestly.”

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