We're shackled to the work that we do -- seven days a week and 24 hours a day. Many struggle with this sense of constant connectivity combined with our smartphone devices, while others have turned this social habit into a business unto itself (check out Tim Ferriss' bestselling opus, The 4-Hour Workweekor The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau). The notion of work-life balance is constantly being debated in a world where the work that we do has become a more integral component of how we see ourselves, how we define our own happiness, and as we think more about the legacy that we will leave behind (instead of our next performance review). With this new found awakening, where work isn't the life of Dilbert, but rather the life that we were meant to lead, we're all still faced with some realities: a struggling economy, major metropolitan cities filing for bankruptcy, more social and medical issues amongst our global cities than we can comprehend, unemployment and a world where big business just keeps getting bigger (look at the recent merger of advertising network giants Publicis and Omnicom).
We live in a world where you'll pay it forward by buying a cup of coffee for the car behind you in line at the donut shop drive-through on your morning commute, but ten minutes later you are conducting in business what would be socially comparable to mass murder in terms of trying to cripple the competition or win new business. From a kind gesture of offering a stranger a coffee to primal animalistic acts of self-preservation, where there is no physical imminent threat. Perhaps with all of this moral awakening, sharing on social media, connecting to others and events like Occupy Wall Street or the Arab Spring, we should be paying closer attention to the human bottom line rather than the financial one?Some random acts of business kindness:
- Kindness. What if we compensated people for not only getting the job done, but by the level of which their kindness in the conduct fostered the outcome? What if kindness was not just part of a mission statement, but core DNA to how business must be conducted? The unspoken number one rule.
- Win-win. By my estimation, the best business deals tend to be the ones where the party that is paying feels like it derived full value from the exchange, and the party receiving the funds feels like it was fairly compensated for the work delivered. It's unfortunate that most deals need involve one party feeling like they either got screwed over or were taken advantage of. If you think there aren't millions of instances where the gap is far and deep between two parties on this notion of "win-win" you haven't spent any time in the office of a law firm that specializes in corporate litigation.
- Acceptance. Sometimes it doesn't work out. It could be a big business deal or the engagement of an employee. It's easy to point the swords in or to point the fingers at someone else, it would be far better for both parties to simply accept the fact that it's not working (maybe even agree to disagree) and make it much easier on one another. In fact, having been fired in the past, I could have easily pointed my finger or lay blame elsewhere. I was younger... and it took many years... but looking back, I should have accepted that I deserved to be let go. Was it all my fault? It rarely is. Still, acceptance is a big part of personal development.
- Candid conversations. Imagine having kindness as the baseline, striving for a win-win and accepting that something simply didn't work out. Sadly, we live in a litigious society that encourages laying blame. Wouldn't it be more practical (and mutually beneficial) to have a candid conversation. Not one that points fingers or attempts to lay blame as if we're all trying to tip a scale in a preferable direction, but in one that simply enables both parties to find the time and space to have both a period of mourning and then recovery? Candid conversations are all-too-often discouraged because of the fear of litigation. It's too bad.
- Help. Whether it's putting the dishes away from a colleague who left their mug in the communal kitchen sink to staying late and helping out somebody on a project that has no bearing on your performance. We see many glimpses of this in our day to day lives, but not enough. What if helping (one another, ourselves, our industry) was as common as holding the door open for somebody or saying, "bless you" when they sneeze?