I love talking to powerful women who are willing to testify about the ups and downs of life and how they were able to overcome and win.

When it comes to matters of the heart and the challenges of making relationships work, someone who has seen and heard it all is “Divorce Court”’s Judge Lynn Toler. Judge Toler has been married for over 23 years. She does more than talk to other people about their relationships. She talked to me about her own.

I asked her directly, “What’s kept you out of divorce court?” She said, “We went to marriage counseling before we got married and while we were married, we weren’t afraid to go back to counseling when we needed it.”

“I didn’t expect to be happy all of the time. So even when things got ugly, and it did get ugly, we were committed to the proposition, we stuck through it. It’s not a fairy tale, but it is a good thing.”

As smart and accomplished as Judge Toler is, she was even smarter to understand that she did not have all of the answers. Everyone, even experts, need help sometimes. If you really want to be successful, don’t be afraid to ask for support. Sometimes based on our positions and pride, we judge ourselves and feel like we should already have the answers. As a result, we don’t communicate our needs and we don’t get the help that we need in order to move forward. But consider this: if Judge Toler, someone who gives advice to others daily about their relationships needs counseling to save her marriage, then maybe you too will realize that smart and successful people understand that they need other smart and successful people to help them win.

Having a successful marriage may be one of the hardest jobs there is. But regardless of what you’re trying to work on or work through, the truth of the matter is that you don’t know how strong you are or what you’re really made of until there’s conflict, a rough patch and things get tough.

Anyone, and I do mean anyone, can say that they love someone, and that they’re down for the cause when things are going well. But who’s your friend when all hell breaks loose? You’re so in love with your guy when he has a job and the gifts and drinks are flowing, but what about when your man loses his job? Are you the first one to say, “I didn’t sign up for this?”

On the flip side, how did people treat you when you lost your job, when you didn’t have any money, when you got a divorce? Did you discover who loved you for you vs. who had love for you because of what you had?

Who loves you from the inside out and who do you love from the inside out? When you consider it that way, these are the people and relationships in your life that are most authentic. They are keepers.

There is a place for various types of relationships in our lives and you need to figure out the roles. It really is okay to have people in your life for a season serving a particular purpose and then they’re gone. Everyone does not need to be nor do they deserve to be in your life forever.

But when you find those people who are ride or die, these are the friendships and love relationships that you preserve and don’t let anyone or anything come between you to destroy it.

You may not always get along nor will you agree about everything – so what? But when you’re between a rock and a hard place, who can you call upon and they are always there?

With that in mind, have you learned to be the person that others can count on? Who knows that you will be there in a crunch?

What about projects that you work on personally or professionally? Do you push past your frustrations when things don’t go as planned? Are you the person that’s always looking for a solution on how to make something work or are you the one always complaining and venting?

The answer to those latter questions is the difference between who gets the job, the promotion and the successful relationship. Think about it. The CEO hired you to add to the company, not take away from it. Your job is to come up with answers and solutions to make money and /or make things better in some way. You’re not there so that they can make you feel good about yourself. You are being paid by someone to make their life, their company better. If you can’t do that, then they may very well question if you are in it to win it.

The same is true or will be true for your own company. Why would you hire someone if they don’t add value and contribute to your vision and plan?

And in the words of author, journalist, and media personality Roland Martin, “I’ve been fired many times, so it doesn’t scare me…” Roland was referring to the risks that people take when they want to express themselves beyond the position that they may hold at their current jobs. We’ve all been there. It’s frustrating when you know that you have the talent and ability to do more, but people in positions of power try to hold you back. They are controlling and are afraid that you might shine more than them. However, if you say that you want more, more responsibility, more visibility, more freedom, you must always consider the cost of being at the top.

Roland continues, “You have to understand that there is a cost to freedom. First, you have to have the skills, then, you have to do the work. At the end of the day, it’s about delivering.”

Here’s my response to that: Your deliverance is in your delivery. This means that you must do the hard work. Whatever is in front of you to do in whatever position you currently hold, do it with a spirit of excellence. Bring your best game to every task. When you do, your gift will make room for you. Before you know it, doors will start opening for you and you’ll be in business.

Winning is about more than collecting a check. Do what you love and enjoy the process of getting there. If you do, the reward will be far greater than money. Nothing is more fulfilling than being assured that you’re living out your purpose. That is why when things get tough, remember that you’re merely being prepared for your purpose.

Sometimes when we are on the brink of our breakthrough, we give up a moment too soon. We say things like, “I can’t take this anymore. I quit.” Here comes a cliché that speaks right to that attitude: “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” So which one are you?

DEYA DIRECTIVE: Life can be hard for everyone. But playing the victim is simply played out. Instead, decide that you owe it to the gift of life – being alive, having your health, right mind and having the use and activities of your limbs – to be your best every day. And when it gets hard, that’s the moment when you have an opportunity to be a part of the problem or become a part of the solution. Decide to be “in it to win it.”

Deya “Direct” Smith, is a producer on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and host of Girlfriend FM & Beyond the Studio celebrity interviews.  She is also the author of Touch Yourself, 30 Ways to Live, Love and Let Go (www.touchmebooks.com)!  Deya is a life-style and inspirational speaker.

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