The Hard Work of Standing StillBlog / Produced by The High Calling
I recently consulted with a colleague regarding the direction of a new business venture. My company had accumulated some cash, and I was hot for an acquisition. Or three. Kevin was good at this sort of thing.
Kevin is a hearty and enthusiastic gentleman, with a lazy eye and a tendency towards colorful language. “Hey, Brad,” he’ll say, somehow managing to speak from only one side of his mouth, “Did you see the @!$*&# McKinney deal last week? Holy $#%#! Those #$$#* #$!%&*$’s made a *@#$!& killing.”
I’ve asked him to tone it down, but I still don’t dare put him on speakerphone.
After ten years of working together, Kevin has proven to be a reliable and loyal confidante, a seasoned expert in his field. We discussed an expansion strategy, and evaluated several options, each representing different segments of this particular industry. There were many potential directions we could go, and they all looked good to me. Kevin listened patiently as I worked up a lather of grandiose possibilities. When I was finished, he sat back with his arms crossed, contemplating my manic rant.
“Listen,” he said in a somber tone. “I’ve seen people make really bad decisions chasing whatever deal comes along, just because they want to look busy, to keep active.” I winced a little bit. “Choose one segment and stay #$%!& focused on it, man!”
We were quiet for a moment, then he leaned forward and lowered his voice.
“Sometimes the hardest thing is to just stand still.”
I swear, that lazy eye was staring straight through to my soul.
We are, as human creatures, wired to action. Addicted to activity. Especially if we are trying to make a big shot impression on the world around us. “Look at me! See how important I am? Look how many moving parts revolve around me!” It feels good at some sick psychotic level to be needed, to be involved and busy, to make sure everyone notices the constantly ringing cell phone in the pocket. But being frantically busy doesn’t necessarily mean we are accomplishing anything important, or lasting.
Kevin was right. By sticking to one segment, we would probably be much better off in the long run, even if it was a slower boat. By focusing, we would develop an expertise, a deeper knowledge, a wisdom that doesn’t come from flitting about in a hundred directions at once. Plus, we would be less likely to make the colossally asinine blunders that come from the corporate fingers getting stuck in too many strategic pies.
I thought about how this is true not just in business, but in our personal lives as well. It is so difficult to stand still, to be alone with ourselves without distraction, to put aside the paranoia, the anxiety and fear, the constant overblown dramas playing out in our little heads. What’s left to obsess about if we give up all that mental noise?
Maybe that’s what we are terrified of. Because nothing is exactly where the naked self becomes unraveled and revealed in all its glorious mess, coming face to face with the One in whose image we are made. Nothing is the place where we can begin to understand lasting principles like Truth and Grace and Mercy and Surrender. It is in this deep stillness that the Spirit resides, hovering somewhere just beneath the surface, waiting for us to connect.
Nothing is everything, really, when you think about it.