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Examine yourself
By DR Teodoro

I always examine myself, and I do it by pondering. For me, pondering deepens one’s insight, clears one’s vision and illumines one’s soul. In my situation, I do it for the following reasons:
it enables me to come up with alternative courses of action in solving business problems
it crystallizes my approach in executive decision-making and it refines the implementation of the decision that was reached, especially those baffling and inter-related issues with multiple implications and cost consequences that ultimately affect organizational goals and corporate profitability.

My unconscious mind automatically shifts to this paradigm for I know very well that I am not supposed to commit mistakes in business decision-making. The axiom that “business mistakes are very costly and deplorable” is a harsh reality for business practitioners. Moreover, the veracity of this statement becomes more so when the money involved is not O.P.M. (other peoples’ money) but your own money. However, when you begin to factor out the “men” variable in the overall equation, synthesizing inputs, objectives and realities out there, it becomes, not only sensitively intricate but dauntingly complex. For while errors in business decision-making are costly and deplorable, errors involving lives are dangerous to life itself.

Through reflection--weighing, considering and evaluating to avoid errors in decision- making, I realized my own humanity, vulnerability and limit. I discovered how scary it is for me to place my own self face-to-face with me. If I’m going to be true and consistent with my own autobiography, my belief in life should match my behavior in life. Could it be then, that people do not “practice what they preach, nor preach what they practice” because the lives they live expose them to what and who they really are?

For example, that well-known philosophical precept of Socrates that “an unexamined life is not worth living,” and St. Paul’s theological articulation that we must “examine ourselves, whether ye be in the faith and prove your own selves” are philosophies that not only influence our beliefs, values and ethics but also determine our perceptions, aspirations and motivations in life (2Cor. 13:5). In other words, our emotional, political and social make-up also influences our view points. Since both Socrates and St. Paul belong to the “religious Weltanschauung” (Sigmund Freud’s The Question of Weltanschauung), and both believe in the existence of God, their viewpoints are still mutually exclusive. While the nitty-gritty of self-examination through probing and pondering may deepen our insight, expose errors and lead us to ascertaining truth in all its shining beauty, the most frightening part is that the same examination may bring us to the stark reality of our own emptiness, drudgeries, anxieties and broken dreams glaring at us with eyes wide-open. The truth, that a lot of people disdain self-examination for fear that they may be confronted with their own meaningless and purposeless existence, is not far-fetched. Furthermore, some people can’t handle this truth, so they escape to avoid the pain. I guess Socrates was ahead of his time if his “examined life” led to critical thinking and capacity to change.

St. Paul, on the other hand, theorized that life can become a mere existence when we are no longer “in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5 – Authorized King James Version). For if we are in the faith so to speak, no matter what happens, we are absolutely certain that we can engage life as is, without fear of anything, not even the unknown, for faith surpasses knowledge and understanding, and faith is anchored on the believers motto, “Thus saith the Lord.” The old but beautiful gospel hymn says it all, and I quote, “I’ve an anchor safe and sure, that forever more endure.” Dr. Luke, the apostle, puts it this way in his letter to the Hebrews, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” (Hebrews 11:1 -NIV). For if we are not in the faith anymore, then life is not worth living indeed. Prudence dictates that faith is the best antidote for fear. Fear, relegated to the pigment of our imagination which merely exists in our minds outside our real being, is countered with faith which metamorphoses into courage, and so we are not frightened anymore of who we are or who we are not, nor anxious of what we are or what we are not. In the end, that moral courage to live his belief brought about by faith in the Almighty, sustained Socrates in choosing death rather than recant his principle. At the onset, there was no sublimity in the primary stages of his intention while in the process of examining his life, nonetheless, he found courage and it became the sustainer of all other virtues.

As we think and attempt to give meaning to our lives through self-examination, may the Lord God Almighty grant us the wisdom and courage to live meaningfully the implications of our own thinking and the repercussions of our own attempts.

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