When you have nothing….

Joanne and I are in Chicago for our annual pre-Christmas excursion.  The weather is bitter cold and the streets are not as crowded with shoppers this year.  And the sidewalks have all too many people with quickly constructed cardboard signs who are hoping to capture the sympathy of passing shoppers. 


I saw one sign that said: 

Lost my Job

Lost my Home

Lost my Hope

Please Help


What’s the next step?  Is this really an inevitable sequence?  I was reading this morning about the inventions that are coming out of the slums of Nairobi, Kenya.  The tagline on the story said, “When you have nothing, anything is possible.”


This is a season for hope – not despair.  Hope or optimism is not about denying reality; it’s about seeing the possibilities for creating a better reality than you currently have. 



Yes, I’ve always been accused of being a glass-half-full kind of guy because I really do believe that every problem brings with it the seed of a solution, and I believe that the search for a solution can itself be inspiring and hopeful.  If you lose hope, you will not be looking for solutions and will miss them even it they pass right in front of your nose.


More can be gained by focusing on those talents and gifts you know God has given you.  Focus on what you’re moving to, not what you’re moving from.  Circumstances beyond your control may lead to losing your job and maybe your home – but losing hope is a choice.  Remember, “When you have nothing, anything is possible.”

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30 Responses to “When you have nothing….”

  1. Jay Peroni Says:

    Love your message here Dan. I am always a half full kind of guy myself as I see attitude determines your altitude. When you lose hope and faith, what do you have left? Rather than waiting on a hand out, take action. I have seen time and time again: purpose + passion = performance. Find something you excel at and find a way to monetize it.

    Jay Peroni, CFP
    Author of The Faith-Based Millionaire

  2. frank Says:

    Good point and excellent tag line!

  3. youngmi Says:

    Thanks for the inspiring message.

    I recently quit my job to become a professional translator. (English->Korean) No secure income is guaranteed and I should be in control of everything in front of me. I am happy because it fits me and believe my future will be prosperous.

    Your book encouraged my positive view even more.

    Anyway, thank you and have very happy X-mas!!

  4. Ava Warner Says:

    Hi Dan;
    Your post is so relevant and very much needed especially at this time of year when so many feel a sense of despair. Great post!

    Ava Warner

  5. davidbmc Says:

    I’ve never thought the glass was half-full. I’ve always thought the glass is too small.



  6. Brian Says:

    Dan, i love your positive attitude. You have helped me to change my natural pessimistic tendencies to glass is half-full outlook.

    David goes one step further – “The glass is too small” 🙂

  7. Carl McDonald Says:

    I saw one sign that said:

    Lost my Job

    Lost my Home

    Lost my Hope

    Please Help………..and the democratic congress voted to give themselves a $4700.00 raise. Where is the integrity?????

  8. Kevin Drum Says:

    Thanks for the great post Dan. We live in a world filled with plenty of negativity and criticism.

    We all need hope and we all need encouragement.

    You do a great job of encouraging others.

  9. Kent Julian Says:


    As always, great stuff! I am more hopeful than ever simply b/c I see opportunities all around me. So do the career coaching clients I serve. And for anyone who doesn’t believe opportunities abound, they should check out http://www.48Days.Net. This new ideas networking is exploding with people who are owning their future!

    Live it forward,
    Kent Julian

  10. Benjamin Bradley, Jr. Says:

    Amen! You are truly a blessing!

  11. Liza's Eyeview Says:

    When I used to work at a missions in the Philippines, we have a saying like this:

    “We have done so much with so little that we can do anything out of nothing in no time at all!”

    How’s that for a motto ? 🙂

    A Maui Blog

  12. A Maui Blog Says:

    Ooppss in case someone gets curious – I made a mistake logging my name on the previous comment. Liza’s Eyeview is my other blog. I placed the A Maui Blog URL – that’s my blog too.

  13. Ana-Christina Says:

    Dan – one of your greatest gifts is sharing hope. Helping people see another perspective, and a different viewpoint. Your writing and tools have literally changed the path of my life, several times. I just self-published my first book, TOOLS OF HOPE. In one week, we have given away over 100 copies and sold 100 copies – all by word of mouth! I have so much more to tell you, but will do so privately in a letter attached to a copy of my book in the next couple of weeks. You were instrumental, and inspirational, in getting this project completed. What a blessing. Ana-Christina at http://www.toolsofhope.com.

  14. paula felder Says:

    Fabulous encouragement !!!!

    God made a promise with Abraham and all of US….We are more than conquerors and for such a time as this, a new flame of CONFIDENCE has ignited………. I have experienced how GOD truly LOVES me, in my weakness…..this has spurred me on to “greater hope” of all things being possible with GOD. It is exciting

  15. Edwin Crozier Says:

    Thanks for this, Dan.

  16. Martin Allan Says:

    The glass half -full/empty analogy is a great one as is the glass too small.

    Sometimes how we view our own individual situations by how we label or define things that can unduly limit us. For example to define someone by their chosen career or profession alone only describes an aspect of their lives as does family & marital status. Certainly we can tend to think that some people can’t rise from a lifestyle situation such as substance abuse but as Christians we know that the Lord can & does change & transform lives over time & sometimes instantaneously.

    The science fiction show, Dr Who, demonstrates this with the TARDIS. From the outside it looks like a 60’s London police phone box of limited dimensions but inside it is totally different. So don’t be limited by the box because it is bigger than you think.


    In the past 16 months I lost my job. Went from making 750.00 a week to making nothing for ten months. Now I am making 9.00 an hour, 25 hours a week. I blame part on the economy( I was in the auto bussiness-service manager) and part on my foolishly lending money to my son once again. (he never pays me back) I lost my car, my apartment, didn’t have the money to put my keep my belongings in storage so I sold what I could and passed on the rest to people who needed it. It’s been really strange because before I would have thought the world was ending, but somewhere along this journey GOD did something to me.. I have been the happiest I have been in years. I have 20,000 in delinquent bills but, I can’t wait for each new day. I am taking classes in wildlife/forestry management and I start classes for LPN mid-march.. My Glass Is Half Full and getting Fuller. Thanks Dan your insights may just have had something to do with my attitude..

  18. Rev. Marshall Johnson Says:

    When I was growing up, working for a big corporation or the government was the key to financial and life long security. Then education became the key to security. Security it seems is a FAD! When we discover the key to security is truly understanding the purpose God has for each of us can we find peace, joy and security. What is your source? Who is your source? What do you already possess to begin anew. How determined are you to find your true purpose here and now?

    I was taught knowledge is power. But, the non-application of knowledge does not produce power. I have also learned, with faith their is power. But, without works faith is near powerless. It is only when humankind engages with humankind and brings the gifts God has given to each of us that we find the power of knowledge and faith. You see the application of human effort, thought and heart is second to nothing in advancing each and every cause.

    The signs carried by the very educated or the highly motivated unemployed depends entirely on someone else providing their next opportunity for them. They already possess the tools and the motivation. Their aim however is at the wrong target. Helping other people with what the sign-carrying unemployed already possess will bring their next opportunity…and their future security. That’s right. I am suggesting the volunteer anywhere to hep out. It takes the focus off of where they are and put their focus on the right target; the needs of their fellow man. Golly, they could even help someone else with a sign. And finally, their real purpose for being on the planet might be revealed. I pray it is.

  19. Holly Says:

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time.

    I too, am a half-glass-full sort of person, and today I found out that I did not get the promotion to the next management level that I have been working toward- I just don’t have enough experience yet. I felt quite deflated after getting the news this morning, but after reading the line, “When you have nothing, anything is possible”, my mood lifted and I jotted the words down to re-read. My heart and brain said AMEN!

    I work for a non-profit organization, where I am blessed every day to go to work and make a difference in some one’s life. (and I get a paycheck to boot!)

    Thank you for the reality check and a reminder to myself to count my blessings and to make a plan of how to make the transition of my new boss as easy as possible for him. It is a big change for our little office, but I CAN make this change a good one!

    Merry Christmas and God Bless,

  20. Shannon Says:

    Yes, Dan

    This has been true for me. In 2005 I lost my home, my business, my life partner, all my personal possessions. I am 58 years old.

    There have been miracles which many would not have recognized.

    I am now living in another state, building something brand new, which I never could have imagined before. I am not religious, but spiritual teachings came to me before my life blew apart. That was also a miracle.

    You are right about hope. You are right about using our natural creativity and inspiration. We must turn off much of the rational mind to allow the new ideas to come.

    My prayers for peace and hope for all, and a very happy, healthy, and joyful Christmas for you and everyone on this new earth.

  21. Mike Says:

    Dan I am also half full glass seems when I grew up my Mother would always condemn me for trying things. I was (sadly) always the one she came to when she needed help, I was one to go into military but not good enough because it was only the reserves, And sadly I was with a gorgeous woman, but felt I was not good enough for her and I cheated on her just to get caught and confess my sins. I did lose a job becuase of injuries I suffered in 1997 and have had 6 operations. I lost house and most of my belongings but I try to stay focused, she let me move in her house I sleep in basement on a kids bunk bed with my 7 yr old son, After reading your words I have hope and look at my situation differently. I always tell my sons NEVER SAY! I can not do it, better to do it and fail then to never try and always wonder. I know in my heart I will be a great salesman and now I will try even harder. The LORD has gifted me and I must use his gifts accordingly so he knows I tried. GOD BLESS YOU AND MERRY CHRISTMAS

  22. Jared Matthew Kessler Says:

    It makes me think about the people on the street corner that ask if “You have any spare change.” I remember one person taking out their wad of hundreds in front of the man that asked for change… to only give them a few coins. It demonstrates the POWER of, “You get what you ask for.” Maybe he should change his sign?

    -Jared Matthew Kessler
    (Author of “The Poet and the Billionaire”)

  23. Mike G Says:

    “When you have nothing….”
    I have put up a website where you can get Free copies of several of the best success books available; Think and Grow Rich, Acres of Diamonds, As a Man Thinketh etc. The Link is http://www.Training4Free.com There are also articles and quotes from the masters of motivation and success on the site.
    I wish you God speed.

  24. Celeste Says:

    Thank you for being EXACTLY the message I needed EXACTLY now (no coincidence). 😉 C.

  25. Toks Says:

    Totally relevant, very true. Focus on what you’re moving to, not what you’re moving from is my new mantra. Thanks so much Dan!
    Punkin Patch

  26. Sandra Clements Says:

    My dad is a glass is half full kind of guy. My mom definitely viewed the glass as half empty and about to break anytime.

    I like the post above where he viewed the glass as being too small.

    I prefer to view the glass as half full with the potential of being filled, but with the ultimate goal to be overflowing to spill out onto others. That was revealed to me when I first heard the prayer of Jabez expounded, especially in the request “that you would enlarge my territory”.

    God keeps adding to my glass. 2009 will be His best year yet.

  27. Lori Says:

    I think I had a glass half something and my toddler spilled it ? I try so hard to be optimistic but I cant. I am waiting for a hand to reach down and help us up. But all we get is another kick when we try to stand. My husband went to prison in January of 07 ,we lost everything except the car. I had a job and managed to keep a roof over our heads untill my engine blew 2 weeks before christmas 08 ,and they fired me. Reason I had no transportation. I sold the Trailor we were living in to buy a car ,hopeing to get back to work and rebuild. The car I bought was a complete lemon and has been one repair after another. I still am afraid to drive it due to major steering problems. In the mean time my parents allowed us to move in with them ( THANK GOD ) . Now they are retiring and moving in June and my children and I have nowhere and nothing. I am seeking work daily and nobody seems to be hiring or at least not me. I have bi-polar disorder and Anxiety problems and this is taking a severe tole on me. As I write this I am crying . I am so scared and lost . I have no options left and nowhere to turn. I know there is a God and my children and I pray every night. I have always put my childrens needs first and they are my priority and when I can no longer do that ,I have officially failed. Where can you get a refill when your cup has been dumped ?

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