Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Sitting in the Winner’s Circle

Written by: on October 18, 2019

Perspective – do you see yourself as a victim or a survivor? This is the key to healing – and also the key to leadership. I often paint for my clients a picture of them in the winner’s circle. Zig Ziglar once said that if you don’t see yourself as a winner, then you cannot perform as a winner. To be successful, you must see yourself standing in the winner’s circle of life – receiving the benefits of your successes. This means to create the vision of that picture in your head until that image is burned into your subconscious mind. As the feel of that success takes over, your confidences will grow and will be reflected in your behaviors.  You are the person that you see yourself to be – you are a winner.

In Failure of Nerve (a book I previously studied in the DMIN-LFS program), the author explores how leaders fail because they lack the nerve to stand firm in the midst of other people’s emotional anxiety and reactions.[1] This is powerful, because, as leaders, others are looking up to us for our confidence and calm within the storm. The strength of our spirit and our ability to rest securely in our identity and our ideas about what success is helps to define our leadership strength.

In the world of human trafficking, survivor’s healing is the focus of my role as a counselor. But the same goals can be utilized as those that make good leaders. It is truly understanding what “success” means to someone – and figuring out how we can achieve the goals necessary to get there. I often help the survivor to see themselves in the winner’s circle, so that healing and victory can take place. Knowing what my client sees as success is also important. This is where my Miracle Question comes into play. A miracle question is a question that helps both the client and the counselor define what success is to the patient. My fav miracle question is: “If you could wake up tomorrow and the world was just the way you would like it to be, what would it look like to you?” This question helps to clarify what is truly most important for my client.

It is then that the “winner’s circle” picture is created. This picture needs to be integrated into their mind, so that every decision they make is based on their future “success.” It helps empower human trafficking victims to replace weakness with strength, vulnerability with confidence, and fear with love. It is through this empowerment that healing can take place and allows God to turn messes into messages!

In Deep Survival, the author noted that people who survive must open their eyes and abandon their mental models that have carried them through life.[2] Victims may respond in similar ways to that of a child, taking the world for what it is and working within that world to survive. They feel they have no control over any part of their world. Because of that, people in victim mode live within the world they are given, without the strength to try to change it.

I have found this philosophy true within my human trafficking victims. Often, they are given a world that they can’t change. It is what it is. They abandon right from wrong, and just try to fit within the world they are given to survive. Helping them to literally throw away the world as they know it and design a new world creates empowerment by seeing themselves in the winner’s circle. It is all about becoming a survivor instead of a victim. And this can be accomplished by becoming a new creation through Christ.

Warren Wiersbe said it best: Nothing paralyzes our lives like the attitude that things can never change. God can always change things. If we see only problems, we will be defeated; but if we see the possibilities in the problems, we can have victory.

[1] Edwin H. Friedman, Margaret M. Treadwell, and Edward W. Beal, A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix (New York: Church Publishing, 2017).

[2] Laurence Gonzales, Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why: True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death (New York: WW Norton, 2017).

About the Author

Nancy VanderRoest

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and fulfills God's calling on her life by serving as a Chaplain & Counselor with Hospice. In her spare time, Nancy works with the anti-human trafficking coalition in her local community.

12 responses to “Sitting in the Winner’s Circle”

  1. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Thank you Nancy. I love the miracle question you write about this week. That can preach!

    Here’s to seeing the possibilities!

  2. Mario Hood says:

    Ditto Jacob I’ve asked that question before but framing it as a miracle question brings even more power to it.

  3. Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Agreed, I love that question. This post is excellent, Nancy. The attitude of a leader is toxic when he/she takes on the victim role. Differentiation requires one to take responsibility, to fall on your sword and live to lead (as I like to put it). My spiritual director recently said, “The key to transformation is what you do between the rock of your wants and the hard place you’ve been handed.” That will preach too!

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Wow, that’s an excellent preach, Tammy. I also love your philosophy of ‘falling on the sword.’ It’s the truth, as leaders need to own up to their mistakes and cherish their attributes!

  4. Mary Mims says:

    Great post, Nancy! I love the winner circle and I was praying about something similar for a family member that I did not know how to help. Instead of rotating around the problem, it allows us to reframe the question. This is a great help to me, Nancy!

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Hi Mary. Yes, I’ve found that reframing the question is the best way of understanding what the other person is saying. We so often jump to conclusions and sometimes we just need to reframe to get clarify.

  5. Thank you Nancy, I too love the miracle question and relate with your world Of working with victims of trafficking, only that I work with victims of poverty, marginalization, neglect and oppression. We’ve to create an environment that allows these victims to be inspired to see themselves in the winner’s circle and gain the energy to work towards success in life. I love it that I get to see the miracles of transformation everyday as the Gospel transforms many victims into winners.

  6. Nancy VanderRoest says:

    How exciting for you that you get the see transformation take place every day, Wallace. You are certainly right where God wants you to be, my friend!

  7. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    As a coach of coaches, I always think in terms of questions that will engage the other with what the Holy Spirit wants to draw up and out of their life. Your miracle question, “If you could wake up tomorrow and the world was just the way you would like it to be, what would it look like to you?” is a wonderful prompt. Thanks so much for sharing your transformative experiences with survivors of human trafficking. You continuously inspire us all.

  8. John Muhanji says:

    Thank you, Nancy, for raising the issue where the weak will always see themselves as failures and they start saying God will have mercy on us. Every time you see yourself in a failing situation, you actually fail and continue to remain miserable. We are living in a world where nobody cares about what the other is going through especially where ignorance is concerned. This has been an issue with most African communities where they spiritualize in every area with the slogan “God will fight for us” this has seen many remaining poor and poor when they do not make any effort. I remember we gave some seed money as a church to poor women to start a small business to support their families. They took the money and bought food, cloth and other things they have always admired and when we asked them where is the business, they said you know we are poor and we have no food so we used the money to save ourselves from dying. and were asking us for more to sustain themselves. They never saw themselves as being successful in business and so they remained poor to date. Those who used their little money well have grown into successful families.

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