The economic climate isn’t great for business at the moment but in one very important sense business is getting easier for me and it’s down to my ability to make decisions. Decision-making is getting easier because more and more of the choices I make are the ones I believe in. In the past I spent too much time and energy arguing with myself about the best way of doing something.
Part of me wanted to act in line with the perceived business wisdom. I guess because it required very little thought, to others it looked like it was the right thing to do and maybe if it went wrong I felt I was less to blame. But all too often I thought the perceived wisdom (particularly the bits that involved people) was a load of old bull, it just didn’t feel right and the resulting argument with myself caused me to get rather stressed.
These days I’m much more likely to make decisions I believe in. Sometimes they’re in line with the perceived wisdom and sometimes they’re not. When they’re not in line, I make the decision consciously and if later on, things go ‘pear-shaped’, I really want to know why. In other words, I learn.
The alternative would be to go with the perceived business wisdom but there’s a real danger that unconsciously I’ll try and prove myself right by sabotaging the whole process so I can say to myself ‘I told you so’. Even if things don’t go wrong I’d probably convince myself that ‘my way would have been better’.
Whilst the case for listening to one’s self may be strong, putting it into practice isn’t always so easy. To do it well, I believe there are two essential ingredients.
The first is Purpose, a really strong reason for doing what you do as effectively as you can. The second is Values, a set of principles that cannot be broken even if breaking them helps achieve the Purpose.
In the relatively recent past many of us have mistakenly believed that our ‘Purpose’ was to make money. Many of us failed because it was obvious to others that, this, and not ‘fabulous customer service’ or ‘great quality’ was what we were looking to achieve. Another group of us managed to make some money but found out pretty soon after, that it wasn’t our ‘Purpose’ after all.
But I also know people who seem to go out of their way to avoid making money. It’s almost as if their ‘Purpose’ is to go without the nicer things in life.
My advice is to avoid including money as part of one’s ‘Purpose’ and trust that the more progress you make towards your real ‘Purpose’, the less money-related worries you’ll have.
A really strong ‘Purpose’ is something that motivates you, something that gets you out of bed in the morning and something that you’d happily have on your gravestone.
Values are personal, they are a set of principles by which you live your life. They are not a set of principles by which you would like to live your life. Your ‘Values’ are your ‘Behaviours’. The way you behave is the way you are. It doesn’t mean you can’t change your behaviours but it does mean if you cheat, then you value cheating. It means that if you shout at someone you attach value to that shouting. If you help an old lady across the road, you value the help you give.You give someone feedback, you value feedback and so on.
The perfect Conscious Business is the point at which all stakeholders have the right ‘Purpose’ and the right ‘Values’ for them personally and they are aligned. Investors, Customers, Employees, Directors, Suppliers etc all share a common ‘Purpose’ and a common set of ‘Values’
Conflict is the beginning of consciousness. M Esther Harding