The Power of Serenity

Joan F. Marques - MBA, Doctoral Student
Burbank, California
September, 2002

Serenity is knowing that your worst shot is still pretty good - Johnny Miller

We all have that special place within us: a source that could be regarded the creator or stimulator of all our achievements. Unfortunately, not all of us learn to master the ability to identify that source and start maintaining it. And for the ones of us that do, the recognition of serenity only starts around mid-life. That may be one of the reasons why they say, "life begins at forty." Who knows! If perceived that way, the person who first came up with this statement may have meant that this is the age when you’re mature and wise enough to realize that continuous chasing honor and material gains may result in financial prosperity, but not in emotional wellness. It may have something to do with acceptance of the status quo: The more content we are with our current situation, the more serene we feel. Serenity, according to Meier (2000), can be described as, "achieving order, internal calm to delight."

Now, accepting the status quo doesn't necessarily have to mean that you don't ever change it. But you need a balance point first, a position from which you can oversee your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, before you can decide upon a useful strategy. In business they call this point, where you make an evaluation in order to choose a future direction, a SWOT analysis. And you can only make this analysis if you know where you currently stand. The misperception of many of us is that SWOT analyses only pertain to work-related matters: to organizations. But, like organizations, human beings also have a mission, a vision, and - sometimes unconscious -, a strategy. Besides, it's not hard to understand Tom Peters and the other renowned management gurus when they explain that we should start perceiving ourselves as organizations, and our employers as clients.

Serenity is, thus, the point where we can oversee our position and determine whether we prefer to leave it this way, or gradually want to work toward a different goal. Gradually, because we know that most overnight decisions turn into catastrophes. "Patience is the greatest of all shock absorbers. The only thing you can get in a hurry is trouble." — Lord Thomas R. Dewar.

It’s also the serenity within us that will enable us to change focus when something seems unachievable, yet keep faith in ourselves, and – consequentially - our dignity. "The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes." — Albert Schweitzer

Ask the CEO's who have not only made a deep impression in their organization, but globally as well, what kept them sane in the most difficult moments of their career. Nine times out of ten you will find something in their list of capacities and traits that could be translated as serenity. It's the ability to remain serene under the most critical circumstances that enables people to see opportunities where others see threats, and to dismantle the disguise in which the most lucrative chances sometimes present themselves. It may sound contradictive, but being at peace with your current position will allow you to reach greater heights than you ever considered possible, while restless fighting against your situation will only lead to painful encounters with people who perceive you as a threat and a power-hungerer. "The Great Way is available to the one who holds no preferences." — Chuang Tzu

The serenity prayer teaches us to accept things we cannot change, change things we can, and know the difference. And that's exactly what it's all about. Serenity is a crucial state of being under all circumstances, whether life is flowing like a calm river, or whether it runs wild like a waterfall.

One last note: serenity cannot be kept at its highest level all the time. There will be moments that it seems as if it simply isn't there. For instance, when your normal routine is disturbed by temporary unpleasantries that you cannot change. All you can do in those moments is to put yourself on autopilot, do the most necessary things on your schedule, and wait until the disruption fades. Oftentimes it leaves as sudden as it came. And if it doesn't, you should determine when it's time to start looking for a solution and a possible change in your life-circumstances in order to reach a new point of contentment. The serenity source, being the deep breath you take, the moments of thoughts you lapse into, and the evaluation you consequentially make, will lead you toward the new situation in which you will feel satisfied. Just remember, "The outward freedom that we shall attain will only be in exact to the inward freedom to which we may have grown at a given moment. And this is a correct view of freedom, our chief energy must be concentrated on achieving reform from within." — Mohandas K. Gandhi

* Meier, R. L. (2000). Late-blooming societies can be stimulated by information technology. Futures, 32(2), 163-181.
* Miller, J. (Unknown). TPCN - Great Quotations. 2000 Cyber Nation International, Inc. Available: [2002, July 20].
* Various. Serenity. Roger Ebsen. Available: [2002, August 25].