“This will all end in disaster.”
The words were spoken to no one in particular. But they reflected the turmoil raging within the speaker’s heart and soul. Uncertainty. Anguish. Self-doubt.
Josh looked round his plush oak-lined office and wondered for the umpteenth time that day how long it would be before someone asked him to resign. Assuming of course that he wasn’t summarily dismissed. True, the outgoing CEO had personally recommended Josh for the job. And the Chairman of the Board had publicly expressed his unqualified support.
It was just that the task at hand was so daunting. Josh’s predecessor had plucked the firm out of obscurity and turned it into a going concern, the envy of every major corporation on the stock exchange. Josh had considered it a privilege to serve the previous CEO and had risen to become his right-hand man, showing outstanding loyalty and commitment to the cause where so many other aspirants had fallen by the wayside.
But with the old man stepping aside, the firm needed to expand or die. The Chairman had made this abundantly clear. They must invade new territory, consolidate their gains, and press on until they had laid hold of their God-given birthright.
That sure was fighting talk. But what if they failed? What if the competition proved too strong for them? They could lose their present market share. Josh’s reputation would lie in tatters and the firm itself would be consigned to a mere footnote in the annals of history.
Of course the failure wouldn’t be his alone. Hundreds of thousands of employees were looking to him to pull this off. Counting wives and children, that number rose to nearly two million. That was an incomprehensible number. Surely there was someone else better suited for the task, some confident young executive brimming with self-confidence. Why, oh why, had he been the one appointed?
Josh snatched the phone off its cradle and clutched it to his ear.
“Mr Binnun, sir, I have the Chairman on the line for you. May I put him through?”
Josh gave his assent and waited to hear the now familiar voice of the firm’s founding father.
“Joshua,” he said, “I hope I haven’t caught you at a bad moment. I have been thinking a great deal about our expansion programme and I appreciate that you may be feeling daunted by the prospect. I well remember your predecessor when he was your age – on several occasions he was all but ready to throw in the towel. But look at what he achieved! I have every confidence that you will be just as successful.”
“I’m not sure that I’m the man for the job.” There, it was said. Now the Chairman knew exactly what a lily-livered, snivelling coward he really was. It would make it that much easier to fire him.
“Nonsense,” boomed the voice on the other end of the line. “You’re my man and that’s all that counts. Listen, I have some advice for you. You might want to write this down.”
Joshua reached for the Post-It pad and began to scribble rapidly:
“Be strong! Take hold of your courage! The fight is won in the head and the heart. You’ve already shown everyone that you’re a man of faith and integrity. Now get out there and show them your guts!”
“Yes sir,” replied Josh. “I’ll try to remember that.”
“Not so fast, sonny. There’s more. Write this down as well. Do not allow any circumstance or any adversary to terrify you! And no matter what happens, never give way to despair! Fear and discouragement will kill your hopes and dreams faster than anything else.”
“Yes sir,” agreed Josh, feeling strangely cheered. “Is that it?”
“Just this: remember that you are never really alone. No matter where you go, no matter what giants you encounter, I will never be far away. If you need me, just call. Got that?”
“Yes sir, I’ll do that. Thank you.”
Josh waited for the click at the end of the line before standing to his feet. He picked up the manila folder that had languished neglected in the centre of his desk. Striding confidently to the door, he raised his voice and addressed his senior executives.
“Let’s get this show on the road,” he roared. “Project Exodus is now officially concluded.” Glancing down at the title on the front of the folder, he continued in the same confident timbre: “And Operation Canaan is hereby under way ...”
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