Recently I had a somewhat (read: very) frustrating conversation with my grandma, who I love and who will never listen to this podcast. She doesn’t own a computer but carries a phone in her pocket everywhere. It’s turned off.
At 96 ½ she’s earned the right to tune out new technology, even as she re-watches episodes of Lawrence Welk every night before Jeopardy.
(You can listen to this podcast by clicking the “play” button below, or you can keep reading).
We had a long conversation over the holiday about politics, family, business, and much more. As a devout Christian, Grandma replied to every single worry and concern I expressed with “well, just pray about it, and God will make it right.”
While I love her devotion and understand fully her intent, I’m here to say: it’s not enough. People in general, and Christians in particular, have a bad habit of expressing concern and then… doing nothing. Whether you pray to your deity of choice, meditate to become one with the earth, gather your spirit circle, or stitch-and-bitch with your girlfriends while knitting, it’s cathartic to express our deepest thoughts and fears.
But even if you believe, whole-heartedly and with your entire being that releasing this to God, the Universe, crickets in top hats, or the ocean itself will resolve a circumstance, you still have the right and responsibility to act.
My grandma, again 96 years old, was astounded when I told her that otherwise intelligent, capable adults were praying to the Universe for prosperity and success without doing the work required and fully expecting that since they believed it sincerely and asked in faith that success and money would be rolling in the door any minute now.
And yet… grandma kept repeating the same mantra with a different target: just pray and God will take care of it.
So I ask you this: you’re sitting outside on a bench. It’s a beautiful day – not too hot or cold – and you’re listening to people and cars rumble by. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a fight breaks out and three young people gang up on a woman, hitting her in the face, kicking her in the ribs, beating her again and again. One of them picks up a stick, then a rock.
Do you: call 911, scream at them, shout “stop it!”, stand between the young people and the woman, film them on your phone, call for other witnesses to help you stop this horrible crime?
Sit on the bench and pray, with all sincerity and earnestness, for someone to step in and stop this attack?
Why is it okay to believe that we should sit and pray for change when we have the capacity, if not the will, to stand up and make change reality?
Maybe, in addition to kneeling in prayer asking for a change agent, we need to become one. Maybe, someone else who is unable to is praying and we’re the ones that need to act.
Another scenario: it’s late December and you’re tallying up your income from the year realizing in growing frustration that you’ve not set enough aside for taxes and you need to make some extra cash quickly. Do you: hustle to that last event of the year to sell your products, reach out to call past clients and offer them more support, chase down those unpaid invoices and cut your expenses to free up cash?
Do you sit in quiet meditation and ask the Universe to deliver income to your bank account and spend the rest of the month refreshing your bank balance and waiting, in full expectation of that money coming to you?
I believe, and act on the mantra to pray and move your feet. If faith without works is dead, then believing and wishing and hoping when you have the capacity to act for change is cheap.
I have nothing against your meditation or prayer, I absolutely have issue with capable change-makers sitting on their asses.
Unless you believe the world is a literal paradise, then go move your feet. Unless your business is perfect and has everything it could ever need, then go move your feet.
Often, the problems we face in our businesses are not because entrepreneurs are flawed idiots who can’t hack it. The challenges we face are symptoms of our basic human nature. It’s easy to think about change, wish for it, but it’s so much harder to act.
That is my challenge to you today: pray for the change you want to see in the world and then move your feet to make it happen.