Faith isn’t an easy word to use in a business context, on the one hand it reminds us of religion, which is often kept out of our work places and even if we can take it out of that sphere it is likely to be thought too vague, too “wishy-washy” as a friend said to me when I mentioned it.
Saying you ‘have faith’ may be heard as, iI hope it will turn out all right. Mostly people would prefer you to tell them ‘I know it will work’, or ‘I will do everything to make sure it is a success’. In my experience, however, if we want something, yes we need to do the work, and we need a little bit more, we need to have faith too. What or who you have faith in is up to you, it may range from the people you work with, yourself, the process, science, the universe, your god or a combination of all those.
We humans need faith in something, I have found, perhaps because the opposite of faith is doubt. The power of faith is not it seems that it negates doubt, but that it embraces doubt, that it sees questions rather than answers and that it acts in the face of doubt. As Lesley Hazelton notes in her beautiful Ted talk about faith, when we have faith ‘we commit to an idea’, not because we know it will work, not because we believe it will work, but so as ‘not to throw up our hands in resignation’. So perhaps the power of faith is that we cannot be sure something will happen and yet as we have faith it may happen, we focus on all that needs to be done to make it work. Where we put our attention has a lot to do with what we create and faith focuses our attention.
Some time ago a participant from a Silent Language of Leadership programme sent me a reflection of what she had learnt in the workshop, she mentioned that one of the things she learned from the work with the horses was to have faith, she said that “… it’s not like something you mention and that’s it. NO, you have to be it, to be faithful with your whole being, to live it.”
That made me think, the key may be to be faithful to what you are trying to do, to continue even if it feels hopeless, to be faithful to that which you want, to that which you are creating. Just like in relationships, when things get tough it may feel easier to walk away, to do something else, and yet when we remain faithful, we may find a different way.
A couple of years ago I worked with a team of people for a week in India, some of us had been on the project together for a while, some of us had never met. We came from different places with different experiences. As we started the week, I remember sharing the ambitious objectives of the week with the team, we discussed and made them a bit more ambitious. And then I looked at the team and said: “this is what we are going to do, I have no clue how we will do it, and I trust we will.” We achieved everything we set out to achieve in that week, in fact we achieved more. There are many things the team did right and I believe it was critical that we were faithful. It wasn’t always an easy week, in fact I can recall the tough discussions, and we could only have them because we were full of faith that we could do it.
In my work as a coach I sometimes say that the main thing I do, is to have faith that the coachee can achieve what they want, that they can be their best self. In 2012 I experienced myself what happens when people have faith in your dream. The friends and colleagues who believed that the silent language of leadership (a horse led leadership development programme) was a programme that needed to happen, helped me be faithful to that dream and make it happen. And the people who believed I could finally write my MA dissertation, helped me do something I was beginning to think impossible.
Having faith in someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give, who will you give that gift to? Being faithful to your dream is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, are you ready?
This is nr 1 in a series of 13 about my insights from 2013 which i took into 2014 ... These have been published on my earlier website and I am reposting them here because they still feel relevant.