A few months ago, I spoke to an old friend named Ben who has been struggling with his business. He owns a computer consulting firm and has lost many of his big clients over the last year to bigger consulting firms. He must have told me at least ten times how the computer consulting business has changed. He then told me he is a dinosaur in his industry and is just waiting for the month that he can’t pay his rent. No matter what I asked or suggested to him about pursuing new opportunities or technologies, there was a reason he gave me that it would not work out. After speaking for thirty minutes, Ben said to me, “I wish I could have more faith that things will work out but I don’t.”
Ben has definitely encountered some bumps in the road the past year and is seeing his lack of success today as foretelling the worst for his future. All of his past experience has created a belief that things won’t change and will likely keep getting worse. How can Ben find hope and opportunity when he has no faith and his beliefs are filled with doom and gloom?
Often our beliefs offer us a path to certainty about our future. Our beliefs make assumptions about what tomorrow will look like, how it will feel and what it will mean for our lives. Faith, on the other hand, doesn’t create our reality according to our fears and desires. It doesn’t decide how we are going to see a particular situation, but instead gives us the ability to move forward in our lives without judging the future and offers us the opportunity to embrace the unknown. Often people tell us to just have faith that a situation will work out but we can’t find it in that moment because our past experiences are haunting us and the future is scaring us. We cling to our fear and worries of “what will be” instead of letting go and embracing uncertainty. As much as many of us would like to have faith, it is a road that can be difficult to travel.
But the good news is that when we lack faith the idea of Maybe can really help us. Maybe is a connector between belief and faith. Those who have faith may have no use for Maybe, but for those of us who get stuck when circumstances seem dire or we don’t know what to expect or do next, Maybe provides us comfort. Maybe enables us to question our beliefs (e.g., Maybe our beliefs are not true? Maybe something else will happen? Maybe this is good? Maybe things can get better? Maybe everything is okay?), and open our hearts to allow us to experience space and light in the midst of a crisis. In a way, Maybe creates a kind of “cognitive” faith that can help us get us through an unexpected situation. And if we work to continuously experience this open space of Maybe, we will start to embrace the unknown as the unfolding of all possibilities.
With this in mind, Ben and I have been playing around with the idea of Maybe to try to alleviate some of his stress and negativity. Ben has been trying to admit that Maybe things will work out, Maybe he will get some new business, Maybe he can branch out into new technologies, or Maybe everything is okay right now and he will figure the rest out in time. The idea of Maybe is so effective for Ben because it continuously offers him more than that one possibility that was keeping him up at night and filling his mind with the fear that his business would fail. As Ben realized through Maybe that there are infinite possibilities ahead even though he can’t see them yet, he was able to relax at times and stay open to whatever life has to offer in his future.
I spoke to Ben yesterday and he has landed a few new doctors’ offices as small clients over the past few months. He was so busy looking at getting large corporate clients he never considered that many smaller professional offices have many technology needs that he could service. It is more work for him because he has more small clients instead of a few big ones but he is content that money is coming in and there is hope on the horizon.
Who knows, Maybe this experience will lead Ben to have some faith after all? Just, Maybe!