“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).” (Mark Twain)
Does your individuality stand out, or do you just blend in? Is your life filled with mediocrity and are you being swept away into the rat race of life? While the pace of life becomes more demanding, are you doing something different? When was the last time that you stood still long enough to appreciate the beauty that this world has to offer?
This quote by writer and theologian, Thomas Merton, may help you reflect:
“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence …. (and that is) activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”
This quote is a good description of our lives today. However, I am not altogether sure when this quote was written, as Thomas Merton died in 1968. He felt the changes taking place in every aspect of life and his world was suffering violence because of the frantic pace of changes which took place during the 1960’s. I would surmise that in our times, our lives are in the midst of a constant and hostile war.
While contemplating life, it struck me as to how easily we follow the patterns and pathways of our parents, fellow colleagues and our friends. We are preconditioned by the demands of society. We live our lives never having enough time to do everything that is on our plates and in doing so, we fall short and fail to meet the expectations of others. We all too often are left feeling non-productive, or not innovative enough, and generally not successful enough. Our chaotic schedules take a toll on our personal lives, leaving it in a sham.
As a result, we fool ourselves into believing that the solution is to work harder and in doing so overcome the ‘violence’ that Merton refers to. If only we would realise that in doing so, we become violent, pushing our boundaries and limits, forcing the pace to continually increase. Indeed, one of the growth industries today is the productivity industry where people try to discover the best app, the best time-saving techniques and the best way to manage the overwhelming load we face within our world.
Aha, Another Approach
However, I see another approach provided in Psalm 62:1: “Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.”
This passage speaks about our souls waiting in silence for God. This implies that where the world around us becomes noisier and success becomes more marked by how much we do, God’s counter-cultural way is to pause – to be silent – stop our actions and wait on Him.
When we do this – when our salvation within our circumstances rests in Him and not in our own doing – we will not be shaken. In our business, this means pausing and trusting Him for the strategy and the wisdom to stand and to not be shaken by the circumstances surrounding us.
About 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.