Last weekend I attended a business seminar where they taught us how to break an arrow by placing the metal tip in the centre of our throat and then lean into it with determined force. Sure, it was terrifying but the lesson was clear; success is achieved when we move forwards in spite of fear and potential pain. The experience was exhilarating.
According to the media, we are in the middle of some kind of recession, be it a double-dip, twizzler or otherwise. Today’s challenge is to say; So What If There’s a Recession? There are still plenty of people enjoying massive success, and you can be one of them.
One of the wealthiest Biblical figures was Abraham (1) and we need only look to his attitude to discover why. After undergoing a major physical trauma he had the choice to sit back, take time off and recover, but instead made the choice to sit in the entrance of his tent. His ‘job’ was reaching out to people with acts of lovingkindness that would improve their lives – and by ensuring he was open for business he welcomed three important ‘customers’ and experienced a Divine vision (2).
My friend Steve Cohn of the Carnegie Trading Company taught me a potentially game-changing phrase, “if you are your own economy, there is no recession”. That is, when we focus on our own resources, draw on the talents we have to give and focus on the light we can shine into the world, there will be no shortages of opportunities. Even when the environment is deeply uncomfortable – be it cholera, recession or otherwise – we still have the choice to sit at the entrance of our tent, go looking for customers and opportunities, and make things happen.
The ancient yogis taught many forms of meditation, one of which is called Dhyana. Usually we think of meditation as being an inward-focused activity but Dhyana is an outward-directed energy that is directed towards others. Yoga teaches that all is One, and ultimate unity can only be created if we reach outwards, Abraham-style.
Are you feeling the pain of recession, economic stress, depression, anxiety or despair? Mark Twain famously wrote “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened”.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. Hitch open the door of your tent and see who’s outside.
Marcus J Freed
How to use this in the Boardroom: Read the essay with your team and discuss; How are we holding back from opportunities? How are we missing potential customers? What are three ways that we could reach out, market, network or do another form of customer development?
How to use this on the yoga mat: Focus your practice on Dhyana meditation, reminding yourself of the world around you and sending your energy outwards. Practice sun salutations/surya namaskar and be aware of the externalities of your limbs, the sensations as you reach your hands out into the space, and be aware of your feet. Set an intention for your practice that is dedicated for the greater good. Another yoga alternative is to use the Abraham approach; be aware of any pain you have in your body and still go forwards with your practice, doing whatever you’re able to do.
Based on Parsha Vayeira: Genesis 18:1, and the commentaries of Rashi & Ramban ad loc.
1. A greater discussion beckons; he was blessed with the ability to channel great riches precisely despite of his life situation. Even though he would be travelling far from his homeland and had the ‘setback’ of having to recreate his reputation later on in life, he was still given the power to overcome this and did not use it as an excuse. Many people say ‘I can’t be wealthy/successful because of my upbringing/parents/background’ but he went against the grain. As do contemporary figures such as Oprah Winfrey, Anthony Robbins and others who have grown up poor and enjoyed immense success.
2. Abraham was specifically at ‘the entrance of the tent’ rather than ‘inside the tent’ like his wife Sarah. The Divine vision is hinted in the word ‘Vayera’ – ‘and he saw [God]’. The three customers were angels who brought various messages (cf. Rashi, Ramban).