“I can’t keep my mind on my business. I wake up every morning thinking about the state of the world.”
That’s how a conversation began with one of my clients. Since it’s Sunday, let me make a confession: I feel the same way. I was brought up in the Christian faith, and what I remember most about those formative years was the obligation that we have to care for others. We are our brother’s keeper. We are our sister’s keeper.
But never at any other time have I had more people confide in me that something feels different. There’s a sense of “impending doom” as many describe it. Antarctica registering 65 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle of winter. The coronavirus. The increasingly visible divide between the “haves” and the “have nots.” Injustice based on ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and gender. Political differences that go to the heart of who we are as a nation and as a world.
People I talk with seem to be coping in one of two ways: 1) ignore everything and focus on building their business or doing their work. 2) be consumed by current events. Neither of them represents a healthy approach.
My advice: start by taking care of yourself. I’ve spoken of the “Core Four” that came out of my work with Warrior. Body. Being. Balance. Business. In that order.
I can’t overstate the need to keep the temple in good order, especially during stressful times. If you’re a CEO building a business, a parent coordinating family life, or if you work for someone else, it doesn’t matter. Daily life, in the best of times, brings stress. In challenging times, the stress can feel overwhelming and paralyzing.
The positive benefits of caring for your physical self through exercise, your spiritual self through some form of prayer and meditation, and your relational self through strengthening the bonds you have with your significant other, family, and friends, are too numerous to mention.
Notice that business is last on the list. There’s a reason for that. If the foundation isn’t solid, the house will collapse. You can’t build on something that is shifting. You need to anchor yourself first. Don’t overthink it. Go for a walk every day. Take five minutes in quiet every day. Tell your spouse, sister, best friend, you love them every day. Consistency is what matters most. If you can’t commit to every day, find a schedule that works and do it.
The same applies to what’s happening in the world around us. First, realize that no one person can solve a problem alone. But everyone can make a difference, and everyone should try to do so. It actually does take a village. Find your tribe. Who else shares your concerns on a particular issue AND is committed to producing the same desired end results? It’s not enough to be disturbed by something. Within every problem lies the solution, IF we’re willing to dig for it.
Second, commit to a measurable action that you can take on a regular basis. Challenge yourself to always connect concern with action. Maybe that means volunteering your time. Or giving a financial gift. Or marching in the streets. It will be different for everyone, but without action, nothing advances.
“Faith without works is dead.”
Third, nothing will be solved overnight. Part of the reason to have a tribe is for support. Think of a relay race. The race is won by the team. When one person is sprinting, the others are resting. That’s how it should be.
Finally, realize that the notion of “balance” is a false one, particularly when talked about in the context of work and life, as if they are separate things. They’re not. I am Ken at home, Ken at work, Ken at play, Ken at worship. One person, striving to live an integrated and harmonious life. My values, no matter where I am, should be consistent. I recognize that my energy will need to flow from one aspect of who I am to another based on what matters most at that point in time.
Take a moment, right now, if at all possible, and jot down what you’re willing to commit to in the areas of your body, your being, and your balance. Consider whatever may be most troubling to you in the world around you, and determine the change you want to see and the change you’re determined to be. Then find other like-minded people. “After enlightenment comes the dishes.”
It’s time to go to work.