Keeping the Faith

Keeping the Faith


Keeping the Faith

How echoes from a far-sighted guru resounded to help 35 years later

35 years ago, I was on a top Executive’s course in Lausanne, being conditioned to believe that everything could be predicted and solved by the sequence : problem, analysis, options, solution, decision, action.

In the middle of some forgettable lectures, a jewel stood out in the person of Prof Pierre Goetschin, a man of experience, wisdom, longevity and still youthful curiosity.

Among his many tales of business, politics and his wise aphorisms, I recall him saying :

The way leadership demands are going, if you don’t have a core of values, God help you

And he went on ‘doesn’t have to be a religious God, but you will need faith and a set of principles, an anchor to the hold your boat in the crazy storms of business and world economy’ . I’m sure he said it better than that……and this was before 2008 and 2020! A prescient Prof!

How right he was, I found as I navigated the winds and waves of crises, panics, other people’s views, pressures, conflicts, stresses

Goetschin hit a nerve that kept on vibrating, making even more obvious the disconnect between my values and some business practices

Yes, I would reject offers of bribes and subtle backhanders; no, I didn’t agree with devastating forests to build factories; yes, I did want to sacrifice profits to promote fair trade and reduce the effect of capitalism on the poor.

It was to be a ten year battle to keep a balance between professional necessity and personal integrity.

These days, I nip into City churches to relish the peaceful haven from the craziness outside. When I sit in one of those church pews and listen I hear something useful :

You’re here to help others do things they otherwise wouldn’t. You are a capacity for ones you love and open to help others. A space for others to grow in. Listen facilitate observe.

Or as a helpful coach more bluntly put it to me : turn up, do what you can, say please and thank you, leave

Holding on (sometimes by the fingertips) to my set of Goetschin principles, and the voice from the churches, three answers have emerged

The answer’s where we least expect it

The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and we will know the place for the first time (T S Eliot : Four Quartets)

I can spend a long while looking everywhere for the best answer…more thinking, more analysis, it’s out there, around the corner, I’ll see it when I’ve been able to mount the next hill. 

On mindful days, I know I am carrying the answer all the while inside myself, just need to look inwards instead of outwards. It’s so hard to realise that we can turn to self not to the world, and that, instead of searching further….. we’ve already arrived

Nowhere (where we sometimes seem to be heading) can be spelt  Now here (where we always are in the present moment)

The answer’s in letting go not controlling

The business world conditions managers to control and command, plan, solve any problem by rationale, believe their own publicity.

No surprise that in my coaching work I have unearthed many ‘imposter syndromes’. Executives who seem to have conquered fear and uncertainty, but who secretly worry ‘I’m not really that good, I’ll be found out soon’ The higher they are, the bigger the syndrome!

The essence of their coaching programmes lies in : stripping away the interference that gets in the way of seeing the simple truths; interferences like what people think of you, self-doubt, fear, ambition and power

Those interferences block the world from doing what it stands ready to do : show the way and smooth the path

If the shutters are closed, the sunlight cannot come in. When you yield internally, when you surrender, a new dimension of consciousness opens up. ……. Circumstances and people then become helpful, cooperative. Coincidences happen. If no action is possible, you rest in the peace and inner stillness that come with surrender.

Eckhart Tolle

The answer’s in faith

All explorations must end sometime says Wittgenstein and they end, not in intellectual certainty but in faith

Thirteen years after that course in Switzerland, I let go of corporate life, and set a plan (yes!) for a portfolio life that didn’t conflict with my values and principles. More time for my wife and children and home, grandchildren, friends, writing, coaching, hobbies, books, theatre, sport…... and enough money to enjoy it!

Having a clear destination was very helpful, but the plan I’d set (I was well conditioned!) had a laugh at me and a life of its own! By a mysterious and unpredictable journey, I reached the destination peeling away the conditioning I’d needed to do the corporate job.  Learning to listen, to balance feast and famine, to be less worried about others’ opinions, to search for peace of mind not control, to let go of ego, status, pride, to be kind to self and others, to balance time, to trust in something beyond…….to be led by synchronicity and coincidence not by rigid planning

Thank you Pierre Goetschin for triggering the thought, and all those others who’ve kept it alive since. And thanks to the world for all the serendipities that I noticed, and the many more I missed.

The answers were there all the time!

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