‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where –‘ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘–so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Do you know where you are going? If you are like me, sucked into the whirlwind of daily routines, occasionally you may stop and ask this question. Where am I going? Why am I running? What is my plan?
During my MBA studies, we placed a lot of emphasis on organizations’ strategies (the combination of competitive actions and business approaches to reach goals and objectives). An important concept I learned was that strategy must always match the situation. There is no winning strategy that can be generally and unconditionally applied across the board to all the organizations.
In order to assess the situation and determine the best strategy for any given company, we learned to use several evaluation techniques (SWOT analysis, value chain analysis, strategic cost analysis, competitive strength assessment, and many more.) Among them, the SWOT analysis was my favorite. In a simple chart it assesses the company’s internal resource Strengths and Weaknesses, and its external Opportunities and Threats.
One day, while playing with charts and numbers, I decided to apply the SWOT analysis to myself. Like an organization, I too have internal strengths and weaknesses; like any company in the word, I too am influenced by opportunities and threats of the environment.
Once I assessed my situation, I was able to make a plan and strategize the right course of action. Still now, when I wonder where I am going, I repeat this simple exercise.
Lent is great opportunity given to us to assess our situation and to refine our plans and strategies in light of our faith. It is a perfect time of reflection and analysis that will lead to renewal and conversion which can change the direction of our lives.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” Maybe rather than accepting any direction in continuing the course of our lives, during Lent we will have the courage to go “against the current, when that current is a superficial, incoherent, and illusory way of life that often drags us down, making us slaves of evil or prisoners of moral mediocrity.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
In that light, is it any wonder that so many of our Lenten promises have to do with luxuries and expenses we can–and maybe should– avoid?
We can instead spend the time, money and energy on devoting ourselves with fresh energy to our spiritual journey. I told you of my sacrifice. How nice that some of you chose to share your own stories with me?
C.C. in Iowa is giving up an indulgence, sweets and deserts, to give the gift of food to a Northeast African family. E.B. in Wisconsin is giving up a vanity, new clothes, to send a gift wherever the need is greatest. And N.C. in Arkansas is joining me as we give up coffee to give to those who could never dream of such a daily luxury.
The Lenten journey is one of mindful, prayerful reflection. A time to assess, restrategize and a find a more successful path to a close relationship with God. Where are you going?
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