Survival No Small Goal

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Twenty years ago, I resigned from a large Texas electronics firm to found my own small company. Before I made the leap, I spent years studying all the tips I could find for would-be entrepreneurs. I poured over the lists to see if I had what it takes to be successful in business. I memorized answers to questions like, “What one thing does an entrepreneur have to have to be successful?” (Answer: a customer!) The business coaches focused on the excitement and pride of starting your own business. The only downside seemed to be the challenge to “Picture the worst thing that can happen to you if you fail. If you can live with it, go forward. If not, forget it.” But no one talked about the dominant emotion of any new venture: the fear.

No one wrote about fears of losing your key employee, your best customer to a competitor, your financial backing, your health . . . The list rolls on. To help diffuse it, I chose an unofficial corporate motto: SURVIVAL IS NO SMALL GOAL! Reciting this motto to a fellow entrepreneur always draws a knowing smile or outright laughter.

That motto seems to inject an element of honesty and vulnerability into my hard driving, aggressive high-tech business world. It symbolizes a great principle: Vulnerability and honesty build trust and community in my team and also with my customers who respond by wanting to help us succeed. The corollary is that denial and avoidance of feelings create separation and mistrust.

Paul, the apostle, modeled this principle when he coached the church at Philippi on ways to deal with diffuse fear, which he calls anxiety. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Phil. 4:6) If Paul had not been aware of a widespread outbreak of fear among his flock, his encouragement would not have been necessary. If Paul had not experienced anxiety personally, he could not have given sound counsel to these first-century Christians. Paul's words likewise give me permission to own my own emotional ups and downs and tell God my true feelings. Maybe God knows anyway.

Recently, I founded a second company in the formerly booming field of optical communications. Last February, the international telecommunications industry suffered a collapse unrivaled in modern business history. I discovered that my previous business experience does not make me immune to periodic attacks of fear, panic, even terror! I am grateful for my support group—a few friends from the business world who encourage me to say to them exactly how I feel and offer these feelings to God. This helps me remember that God is in control in my world of daily work and can give me peace, serenity, and love in bad times as well as good. This is no small goal!

Questions for discussion:

  • Describe your arena of daily work. What events create an emotional minefield for you personally?
  • What person or persons are a "safe place" where you can talk honestly about your personal feelings and find spiritual resources to face the issues in your daily work?