Testimony > Enterprise

Businessmen have souls too

Head of a business for 15 years, Mark is married and a father of 5 children.

When I took over from my father as head of the family firm it was somewhat against my nature. Certainly, I did not exactly have the profile of a manager, someone sure of himself, extrovert and a communicator. However I decided to accept and to take on this professional destiny that family tradition and the education I had received seemed to have already pre-programmed: classic schooling, followed by higher education, apprenticeship and then progressive experience at each level of the firm…

Dismantling the illusory constructs of fear

Luckily, in the year after which I was appointed president of the company, I met some members of Invitation to Life. Following that, my wife and I decided to join a prayer group. What most marked me from these first experiences with IVI was the wellbeing and the calm that I felt. I had suffered for many years from spasmophilia and terrifying anxiety crises. Progressively, all these painful symptoms faded. This experience helped me to dismantle the illusory workings of fear and to discover what my soul should be. I should point out that ‘the soul’ was the big mystery in my life, even having followed the catechism and practised the Catholic religion up to 18 years old, I had never really understood what was meant by the notion of the soul.

Prayer at the heart of professional turmoil

Prayer brings me a tangible calmness with regard to both stress and the weight of my responsibilities. It literally permits me to restore myself, take some distance and be more serene in the face of difficult decisions that have to be taken. Sometimes I find a private space during the day so as to pray, so as to re-centre myself, and to confide to the prayer that which I have to do. Often, these moments of prayer bring me clarification of a technical or human problem. They are antidotes in the face of a spiral of stress and excessive haste in my environment.

In business of whatever nature, the pressure is enormous. Everyone is fighting for something: their position, their financial situation, their business … Competition is ferocious – a race where, very often, people lose their sense of values or any respect for their values. Salesmen are often saddled with a killer attitude. It is in the spirit of the times, without faith, without laws! One must, at all costs, drive on and kill off the competition. It is not at all my nature. I am not made for this system. So if I did not have prayer I could not perform, I could not do this job.

Prayer at the heart of human relations

This spiritual journey allows me equally to be available to listen to my colleagues. In a business such as mine, which has about 300 people, the quality of human relations is critical, as is an awareness of work well done. The boss’s state of mind really resonates throughout the enterprise and the way it operates. The employees need the attention of the chief executive on what they do and the manner in which it is done. If I am stressed, my partners feel it and all the chain of command is similarly affected and, on the other hand, if I am serene and in peace everyone – employees and clients and the business – benefit. Moreover, this state of mind is felt by our clients who appreciate our way of performing with its regularity, stability, and above all, straightness.

Letting God manage my time

I think that if one is fair in one’s work, fair with the people around one, and if one does not look to dominate through power or the false pride of always possessing more, one is much helped by heaven. Events fall into place as if there existed a divine orchestration covering meetings, new clients, new ideas… All this makes me think that things fall into place naturally. This journey of transformation allows me to be and to grow in a state of confidence.

Previously, I had a time management issue. People make a lot of demands of my time and I can affirm today how much Invitation to Life has also helped me plan my diary differently. Overworking, linked to my fears, prevented me from foreseeing how I should use my time in the long term. I managed it week by week. Fear of confronting reality meant that I stopped myself from seeing it at all. That quickly created a nightmare because I piled up things to do instead of allowing them to take their place as time evolved. The result: an overloaded timetable, tiredness, stress and … self-blame – it was hell. It was prayer that helped me to see this clearly.

One recognises the tree by its fruit.

My colleagues and all my staff are aware of my commitment to Invitation to Life. I explain what I am doing when I go away on pilgrimages and to fulfil other responsibilities which I have in the Association. What matters above all for them is that I am straight, fair and clear. It is all a question of human relations. What I experience in my business is the experience of family life. If there is listening, respect and fairness, it works. If I were in a sect, there would not be such quality in the spirit of the company, nor in its functioning and its results would not be as good as they are! As they say: one judges the tree by its fruit.

My spiritual journey also allows me to accept differences more easily: personality differences in my business are sometimes a source of difficulty. But acceptance of these differences in fact makes us much more creative. Moreover, our seasonal collections are more and more beautiful and this beauty is good for our clients. Beauty and harmony are good for the soul … and the decoration arm of my business is growing from strength to strength!