Faith is often seen as a religious concept, but I see faith being as much about trust and hope.
Whenever we create something- a business, a relationship, a child, an object- whatever it is- we are pursuing an act of faith, that what we bring into this world will have some purpose, some good, and maybe even outlive us. We hope that what we create becomes bigger than ourselves, and spreads whatever our message happens to be beyond our own sphere.
It takes a lot of what my Ukranian grandmother would call chutzpah- audacity, or intrepid boldness- to create and run businesses these days. There’s risk, things are changing often faster than you can make ideas reality, and you might fail. But you have to decide that moving forward is a lot better than standing still. Standing still, or doing the same thing you do every day doesn’t get you anywhere, really- it’s like walking on a treadmill. It’s useful, and good exercise, but you haven’t really covered much new ground in the process. It’s only by taking that leap of faith and taking a few risks that you get to a new, and hopefully better place.
This year is already presenting me with new and challenging opportunities. Some will be about helping others make their own businesses better, through presentations I’m making in conjunction with the Delaware Economic Development Office. Some will be about helping others take the necessary steps to make our communities and our environment better places to be, through the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. Some will be about helping educators make learning more student centered, through differentiating instruction.
In each of these projects and presentations, the core message is the same. Each person who cares, who is involved and wants to make their corner of the world a bit better and different can. By learning how to communicate, how to get your message out, make it easy to remember, share and proliferate, each voice has the ability to carry so much farther. It has the power to effect others and get them to care and be involved as well. The web-based tools are just ways to amplify the message you already have at hand, and find folks who may want to hear your message, but couldn’t before now, hear you over the din of their daily lives.
When I started blogging and podcasting many years ago now, I started because I wanted to make a difference. I wasn’t sure if I could, but each step down the path provided people who were willing to help and encourage, people who were willing to spread the word, and people who had faith in me and what I wanted to do and accomplish. There have been times I’ve questioned whether this was the right path- because it certainly hasn’t always been easy. But the more I stay centered and have faith that I am on the right path for me, the more I stay true to what I believe has value, the better things get all around.
This also means asking yourself hard questions. For each opportunity that comes your way- does it add or distract you from your core beliefs and message? Does it cost you other opportunities? (We may never know the answer to that question, by the way.) Is this venture something great, but is it something someone else may be better at doing than you are? Is it something you should refer on to friends and help make their lives richer in the process? Is this one meant for you, or are you meant to pass it on?
All of these questions are not easy ones, but they become easier to answer if you know who you are, have an idea of where you want to go, and can figure out whether the opportunities fit into your core mission or not. If they fit, even tangentially, they may be worth the chance (and probably are.) If they clearly have no relationship to your core, then maybe you need to pass them on to someone who can use the opportunity.
All of this requires that you have faith in yourself and your direction, even when the path ahead is foggy. It requires a more mature sense of faith- not in a religious sense at all, but in a sense of trusting yourself and those around you. It requires taking hopes and dreams and verbalizing them and making action plans to make them all come true. It means not waiting for the answer or solution to be dropped into your lap, but working towards making that future a reality every day, bit by bit, small step by small step.
There are days when this walk will seem endless, or whether it’s worth continuing at all. Those are great questions to ask and answer. As I found out doing my first half-marathon, pushing through to completion doesn’t mean that it will be pain free or easy, but it does mean you’ll have something to look back on, and say “I did it, even when I thought it was impossible.” And that’s a pretty darn good feeling you can’t pay money to experience.