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And the greatest of them all is... PEACE!

In the West the month of December witnesses the biggest celebration of the year – Christmas. This is a period when the birth of Christ is remembered, a time when people reflect - a peaceful time.
2011 was a challenging year across the world as we battled with fallouts from the failings of the banking system, terrorism, wars, rising oil prices and subsequent higher cost of living. How then can we be at peace in this mire of trouble, uncertainty and hardships? Consciously or not, everyone desires, and deserves to have peace. For when we have peace we have everything else that is important. It is difficult to be at peace if we don’t have enough food, or if we can’t clothe our children or if we have no place to sleep. Indeed being at peace assumes that at least our basic needs are being met and that we have enough love, joy and goodness in our lives. It assumes that we do not live in constant fear, desperation or despair. But how can we experience inner peace if we are constantly facing challenges, tribulations and trials; when we are consistently worried or anxious; when our very survival is threatened?
Peace of mind does not occur by accident; it takes no notice of the material things that we may have accumulated. There is an African Proverb that says: Peace is costly but it is worth the expense. How true! Inner peace is not bought or sold, negotiated or bartered. It exists because you consciously evoke it. You decide to be at peace by choosing what you focus on. I wouldn’t be so cynical to say that we can be at peace at all times, for it is natural for man to worry, for all sorts of reasons. But often we invite chaos into our lives via our very thoughts, robbing ourselves of our inner peace.
This year I lost 4 members of my family – an aunt, an uncle, a cousin and my sister-in-law. Was I at peace throughout 2011? Yes, most of the time. Was I happy when they died? No, but I was at peace. Too often we confuse peace with happiness. Peace is a fruit of the spirit, happiness is not.
As we reflect on the successes or failures of our business ventures in 2011, we should ask ourselves - are we at peace in our businesses? Do we treat our customers, partners and other stakeholders fairly and with respect? Do we deliver on our promises? Do we handle conflict to the best of our ability? Do we treat our staff well? Are we fair with our family? Do we spend time with our children? Are we harbouring resentment or failing to forgive?
As we move into 2012 let us let go a little. After all, the world won’t fall over if we run a bit late or if we have to cancel an appointment because one of our children needs us. Choose what you focus on! Too often we anticipate a bad outcome. Look at the bright side, chances are, it will never happen. See the glass as half full. One of the observations I made in 2011 was that the people who are busiest are the ones who have the least disposable funds. I have a few friends who are always busy in meetings or scurrying around but they are never able to afford anything extra. They can find no time in their busy schedules to visit a loved one or to listen to a friend or to further a worthy cause. They spend most of their time running their business or rather, their business running them. We all go through hard times in business but if you are always tired, or have no time for a social life or are unable to meet your basic needs then perhaps you need to alter your focus, for you could be beating a dead horse. People like those deny themselves of inner peace.
I am not a fan of New Year resolutions but one of the commitments I made at the beginning of 2011 was that I was going to widen my bank of friends by being in the presence of more positive and progressive people. I am pleased to say that I accomplished that feat for I met many wonderful, ambitious and progressive people in 2011 and I made a few friends. It is important to make time for people and to ‘hang’ with positive people from whom you can learn and be inspired. It doesn’t mean that they will bring you peace, for it is you who must choose the subject of your focus. But it will help you to widen your repertoire and worry less about the struggles of life. They will encourage you to find solutions instead of focusing on problems. You, in turn must help others and thus complete the cycle to achieve inner peace; perhaps the peace that surpasses all understanding, the peace that remains with you despite the chaos that may exist around you.
I take the opportunity to wish you a wonderful, prosperous and peaceful 2012.

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