Comforting Words: Compassionately Ambitious

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Compassionately Ambitious

Years ago, in one of my many desperate attempts to be an entrepreneur I became involved in the herbal supplement industry. What is relevant here is not the fact that salesmanship is not my cup of tea. The gem of this story has to do with the look of horror that went across my team leader’s face when I declared that my sole intention was to surpass her sales record.

This woman was the top distributor of this particular brand of herbal supplements in Jamaica, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct sales and commission on the sales of her team.

At least once per month or so, we would attend team meetings and other presentations geared to pump up sales and enthusiasm for the products. We would be regaled with the success stories of people who entered the business with very small investments and who in a few years were living the life of the rich and famous.

To make sure we understood the vast potential of the “opportunity” – that was the code word for ‘the business’ – and that they saw in me (and others) possibilities for great success, the team leader invited a select group of us over to her mini-mansion in the hills of St. Andrew.

My eyes almost popped out of my head with the understated yet opulent décor of her home, the view of Kingston and St. Andrew from its balcony and, not to mention, the spread she laid out for us.

It was a few short weeks later, after seeing the real possibilities of the ‘opportunity’, that I made my declaration to her and saw her flabbergasted look. At that time, I could not understand why she was so surprised at my competitive stance – was I not supposed to be in order to achieve her wealth and stature in the “opportunity?”

What I have come to understand, something that I could not wrap my brain around at the time this wonderful and demure woman tried to explain it to me, was that competitive was the last thing I wanted to be in order to succeed.

Apparently, she had built her ‘empire’ on compassionate ambition not competition but that business model was unknown to me at the time.

You see, this lady had taken her spiritual principles with her into her business.

I remembered this story this morning as I watched one of my regular television evangelists and heard him speak about jealousy. His words “jealousy is at the roots of your competitiveness,” caused me to stop and ponder the truth of this statement in my life.

Certainly, I have been competitive and would venture to say that to some extent still am – albeit not to the cut-throat extent I once displayed. However, until this morning the connection between jealousy and competitiveness was lost on me. Are we not entitled to get our own? So what then if you had to be assertive and even ‘push’ would-be obstacles (read as people) out of the way?

As I pondered these two questions, a vision of the team leader and our last exchange came to me.

I never made it in that business, obviously, and she remains to this day and is more prosperous than I could ever have imagined with offices and teams across the Caribbean.

In my jealousy and envy of her material opulence and abundance, her spiritual maturity and her understanding of the fundamental spiritual principle that this is an abundant universe with enough for every single one of us was lost on me.

Growing up as I did, spoon-fed on the notion that this is a cruel world with limited resources that is enjoyed only by the rich; it would take a few years before I could even begin to fathom what she clearly knew.

The lessons I learnt was that being a girl and one of African-descent living in a so-called Third World country, life will forever be tough. It was a lesson I am still unlearning. The experience with that team leader is a prime example that even in my late twenties the notion that one has to “push and shove” and step on other people’s back to get into my white picket fenced home was still prevalent in my mind.

Life does not have to be tough and lived in constant struggle and competition with the world and his/her wife!

Make no mistake, there is no naiveté in me that would cause me to think that life challenges are not real and that people will not try to manipulate, compete and/or sabotage one’s progress.

What this herbal supplement lady, the televangelist and the many spiritual teachers that I have had the opportunity to learn from all agree on (and have proved by their living) is that each of us have a choice as to how we will respond to life’s challenges.

Every single one of us can and does (consciously or unconsciously) chart our course on this journey. It is therefore up to you and me to determine whether it will be riddled with envy and jealousy; always striving after what the neighbours have. Or will it be peace-filled and thank-ful for what you have and what is still possible using the gifts and talents endowed by Spirit?

The spiritual teachers and guides at whose ‘feet’ I have the privilege of learning, including Jesus the Christ, also agree that what you ‘see’ is what you get.

If competition, fuelled by jealousy, envy and a belief that there is not enough in the Universe, is all that you (or I) can see, then that is what you will experience in all your relationships. After thirty-odd years of first hand experience of this, trust me when I say that they are onto something!

I am following the adage: “Change your view and change your life,” and actively changing the window that I am looking through and moving more ernestly into compassionate ambition. What about you?



Visit Comfort Foundation for information how to get further support on this or any other issue.

Photos available at Yahoo Images


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