How are You?

It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.” (W.B. Yeats)

How are you really?

As I go about the business of business, I often ask someone the question: “How are you?” I too get asked this question many times and realize that this is often something we just say without waiting for a response.

Indeed, the online wiktionary goes as far as to define the phrase “How are you?” as “An informal greeting, not requiring a literal response.” In fact, we often do not want a proper response, rather than the standard “I am fine thank you”, as this would require something more of us.

We often answer this question with “I am so busy” or “I am run off my feet”. Imagine if we were to really answer this question looking for the deeper answers – How is your soul today? How is your heart today? – and listening intently for the response.

Going deeper?

In a driven economy searching for ever more connections, these contacts are often so tenuous and meaningless that they are not really connections at all. Part of the reason we don’t look for deeper answers to probing questions is that we do not have the time to do so and may be worried that listening deeper to a more heart response would take more time.

A possible reason that we have not paused long enough to examine our own hearts is because we have not had the courage to properly examine ourselves, afraid of confronting our hurts and shattered dreams.

Biblical insight

I was struck by the words of the prophet Nathan to David in 1 Chronicles 17:2 – “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.”

This was the starting point for God working something incredible in and through the life of David and precedes God’s covenant with him. I can imagine David stepping back into a quiet space following this question and stopping to examine his own heart. What were his hopes, dreams or fears? What did he see in his future?

An open spirit

Part of the reason you must encourage deeper answers to probing questions is to maintain an open spirit. Such spirit embraces the other person freely even if the relationship is difficult.

A closed spirit protects itself and communicates to the other person your measure of guarded distance or suspicion. Whatever is said to a hard heart, will be heard through the jaded lens of the individual’s suspicions.

It is therefore vital in any relationship to safeguard that “open spirit” relationship with another.

Searching out the difficult

Many people do not want to be bothered with searching out anything that is difficult, but I encourage you to try because you will undoubtedly be stronger for it.

Consider that the heat and intensity of trials, which we often wish to bury, is intended to burn good and righteous qualities into the cores of our personalities. These qualities will in turn help us in being more generous, brave and courageous – necessary character qualities for the marketplace.

Experience has taught me that if the hearts of the people I deal with are stronger, then my business is stronger, and then life has more significance beyond seeing business growth. Indeed, if our hearts are right, business growth will follow.

AlanlouisPicAbout the Author: Dr Alan Louis is a third generation entrepreneur in a family with a 100-year business history. He devoted his life to Christianity as a child. Awarded a PhD in Commerce, is an Ultra Ironman Triathlete Gold medallist and was inducted in the IBC Hall of Fame for entrepreneurship. Internationally he has served on more than 100 private corporate boards, and has experienced the trials and successes of commerce for 3 decades.

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