As an entrepreneur and executive, I lead a busy life. I work long days and I travel often. I consider myself lucky because the work that I do has given me the opportunity to visit places that not many people have the opportunity to, as well as to meet many interesting and powerful people. I find my job and work to be interesting and rewarding in themselves. Negotiation, networking, and investment generation are just a few of the wide variety of functions that I perform every day. But even with the exciting and challenging nature of my work, I have at times found myself feeling as though I lacked a sense of purpose or fulfillment.
The Need to Connect with Others
Aristotle said that man is a social animal. Our need to connect with others is part of our nature. In a time when we are constantly connected or “on the grid,” it might sound odd to talk about the need to connect with others. One of my most important jobs as an executive is forming connections, or networking, and although some of the business relationships I have formed have turned into friendships, I am talking about something different. I’m actually not talking about making friends based on similar interests either, like playing golf, enjoying the outdoors, or reading the same books. For me, I needed to connect with the people who were affected by the work that I do. I needed to see that my idea of the importance of my work was not divorced from reality—that is, that the work I do in the boardroom makes a difference in people’s lives.
My company does a lot of work in developing countries such as Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Somaliland, to name a few. When I had seen some of the same problems persist in those places—things like poverty, insufficient healthcare, inadequate infrastructure—I had at times doubted the efficacy of my own work. Doubt is certainly insidious. In the same way that people can ignore problems by keeping their distance and making things abstract, I allowed distance and lack of connection to stop me from seeing the purpose in my work. But I have found that the best way to combat doubt is to go and see for myself. That is why I determined years ago to always make time to step outside of the boardroom, to get away from the business meetings, and to go out into the communities and talk to the people.
The Need to Connect with Yourself
Pascal wrote, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” I have found myself at various times in my life seeking distractions seemingly for no reason and usually unaware of it at first. To be clear, distractions are not always destructive, or unhealthy even. In fact, the ways that I chose to distract myself were often by working harder or, sometimes, taking up a new hobby. Working harder is generally considered virtuous, learning a new hobby self-enriching. When I reflected on why I was working so many more hours or why I had suddenly decided to study geology, I found that I was avoiding my own thoughts.
It is ironic that it was only through sitting quietly alone that I was able to come to the realization that I had been avoiding sitting alone with my thoughts. But I am glad that I did. I was sitting outside waiting for the rest of my family and friends to arrive at a gathering, and my phone ran out of power. I couldn’t check my email. I couldn’t text. I couldn’t play a crossword puzzle. I just had to sit there, outside, and think. It is amazing the time and space you can travel in your own mind, or the depths of thoughts and feelings you can explore, in a matter of seconds or minutes. I realized that sitting alone with my thoughts, allowing myself to connect with my own feelings, was just as necessary as working hard and just as meaningful as connecting with others. Indeed, for me to be of use to others, I had to make time for myself.
Sheikh Mohamed Bayorh is a wealthy businessman, investment banker, and philanthropist. Throughout his many years of work as an entrepreneur, Mr. Bayorh has been involved in and invested in a wide variety of successful business endeavors. Whether it is through his work as a deal maker or as a project financier, Mr. Bayorh is always trusted by his colleagues and partners to serve in a leadership role and to lead by example, demonstrating the highest level of professionalism and inspiring others by his humble attitude and unparalleled work ethic. Sheikh Mohamed Bayorh currently resides in the United Arab Emirates, where he has served as Chairman of the Board for the Alpha Group of Companies since 2011.