Many people view business as a dog-eat-dog, destroy-before-you're-destroyed enterprise. But to me, business has always been about relationships, and relationships--whether personal or business-related--tend to collapse when you stab people in the back, play head games, take but don't give, lie, cheat or exploit the other person. As a result, my mantra as an entrepreneur has always been to treat those with whom I'm engaged in a professional relationship pretty much the same way I would treat them if we had a personal relationship. It's a long life, and I've lived enough of it to know there are consequences to the choices we make and eventually those consequences catch up with us.
I'm also a big believer in karma. I don't mean that in a Pollyanna sense. I simply mean that when I have shown empathy to others and treated them with honesty and respect, they've tended to return the favour. And since people constitute the core capital of my business--of any business--the benefits of having people I can trust on my side are incalculable.
Having said that, l want to stress that I don't treat people with compassion and respect because my eye is on the bottom line. I treat them that way because that is how I was raised, and it's who I am. Also, I don't think honesty is something you can fake.
I've seen some individuals who cultivate the performance of sincerity. I think of their behaviour as a faux friendliness developed and practiced over time to ingratiate themselves with others. Often, I have the feeling that these people have been performing sincerity for so long that they've come to believe they actually are sincere. The Philip Seymour Hoffman character in The Master is a larger-than-life version of the sort of person I mean. On the outside, he seems affable and charming, but something about him sets off alarm bells. At some level, you know he's a fake.
I believe that people are pretty smart. And so, in business and in life, I always start from that premise. People know when someone has an ulterior motive. They know when they're being played.
But since I'm advocating honesty here…in truth, there's another reason I play by the book. I'm a terrible actress! And it's not in my nature to trick people into doing things I know they'll regret later, not least because I deeply dislike conflict. I can't handle the stress of wondering when people will figure out they've been had, when the axe is going to fall. And they will find out. That I know.
Maybe you began reading this post thinking I was going to give you a few insights into my business philosophy. Instead, I wound up talking to you about the bedrock principles I rely on to navigate life. That's because to me, they're one and the same.
How about you? Do you think my business philosophy is the best way to go in the long run, or do you think it's hopelessly naïve? Let us know…