Faith or fear? We can choose.
Over a delicious organic Americano, my good friend told me the story of what happened when he made the bold and brave decision to leave his corporate job and start his own company.
A regular client was planning their own start up and practically guaranteed a sizeable commission that would make his first year more lucrative than his present job. As well, he’d picked up a little work on the side with a company who was proposing further contracts with him. The risk seemed reasonable, and so he resigned his position and hung his shingle.
The ink was barely dry on the lease agreement when the first company called to say they’d chosen a different direction and so his planned ‘bread and butter account’ went south. Shortly thereafter, the second company called to engage his services again, but he had just found out they were less than honest in their business dealings after having abruptly dismissed a couple of employees whom he had recommended, with no just cause.
Although Daniel was now faced with the reality of no income, he turned down the offer from the disreputable company. He believed in his vision for his business, and refused to align with people whose values he did not respect. Standing at the crossroads of an uncertain future, he chose to make a faith based decision… that holding to his principles was worth more than reacting to the temptation of immediate financial gain from an untrustworthy source.
Fast-forward about five years: Dan’s business is heading into another growth cycle, he’s clear about his goals, and lives prosperously in relationship with vendors and suppliers who operate with ethical principles.
Reflecting on this past year, the results of my own 'faith based' and 'fear based' decisions are apparent. When I acted from a place of being afraid of losing a professional relationship that I intuitively knew had outlived its good in both our lives (because I was afraid of not being able to replace the income), played out disastrously in work hours severely disproportionate to the project.
Conversely, my chosen engagements which held no immediate picture of lucrative financial gain, but held a compelling attraction with like minded colleagues, and the prospect of interesting work, or the 'faith based' projects, brought unexpected and abundant good fortune.
Other work related decisions based on compatible values produced prodigious fruit, financial wellness and inspiring relationships with terrific people, ultimately creating self-confidence. The decisions based from fear of loss created the loss I feared, and generating disparaging thoughts of insecurity.
So how does this happen? It's really the emotional drivers that determine the outcomes. Not just what we do, but how we feel about what we do. Every choice we make throughout the day, large or small, brings us closer to what we really want, or moves us further away from it according to the balance or imbalance of the relationship between our feelings and actions.
Meditation, reflection, and avoiding precipitous action inform our best decisions. Waiting for clarity, not doing anything at all, until we are clearly certain about the best course of action, always produces better results. Haste makes waste. “A good carpenter measures twice and cuts once.”
Our emotions and associated expectations are the propeller, so to speak, that charts the course of our lives. Our dominant emotion always creates the result. How we genuinely feel about something can be a greater determinant of an outcome than what we might do. Taking time to understand what we believe and what we fear creates awareness about our motives.
Two glaring fear based decisions from last year created consequences serious enough for me to pledge that I would never again rush into any agreement, without first ‘checking in’ with myself to understand my motives and core beliefs about the matter.
And so this is how my New Year’s resolution came to be: slow down, a concept emphasized in The Prosperous Coach by Steve Chandler and Rich Litvin. I want to be present enough in each moment to act decisively and consider where my choices will really take me. Am I acting from faith, or reacting out of fear?
We see how this is reflected in societal trends by the tidal wave of recent popular interest in meditation, mindfulness, yoga, journaling, Focusing, and even the revival of knitting: al practices aimed at stilling the mind and increasing awareness.
It’s an easy principle to forget when the rush and tumble of beckoning achievements and choice fatigue carries us along. Or when we’ve experienced a downtown or defeat and the sting of it still smarts. We can easily forfeit the power of choice in the moment when our thoughts are future focused or drowned out by the white noise of distraction.
Arthur Ashe once said “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” (If you need a dose of inspiration, check out his story).
Our goals, dreams and visions are closer than we know… slowing down to consider whether the next step we take moves us closer to our vision or further away from it, grants us peace and the power to be creative, authentic, purposeful.
Does this mean the death of anxiety, the permanent absence of self-doubt, or never making another mistake? not nearly. Fail forward! But slowing down does ensure greater leverage with our available time and energy, more fun, possibility, and ultimately fewer financial setbacks. In other words, a life lived more joyfully.
Slowing down to notice our internal landscape is the path to good fortune and good health.
Can you think of both a fear based and a faith based decision that you acted upon? How did your 'fear based' or 'faith based' decisions play out? I'm interested! Send me an email to email@example.com for an invitation to sit in meditation in our video conference Mindful Meditation sessions. Create informed change in your life.
Photo Credit: Mark Johnston