I grew up steeped in the idealism of the 60s. Along with many of my generation I envisioned a world that was good, where people were treated humanely, where war was rejected as inhumane and inherently bad, where human and personal rights were regarded as sacred and "inalienable." Implied in so many of the movements of that era, and still today, was the notion that doing good in the world was needed for our survival, and that doing good was its own reward.
How far have we come? "Goodness" is certainly found in many products today. Just think of the common advertising slogans that go like this: "the natural 'goodness' of whole grains" when in fact the product being advertised is filled with GMO ingredients or high sugar additives masquerading as wholesome nutrition. (Pardon my cynicism. I'm actually still an optimist in spite of plenty of evidence that could have knocked the wind out of my progressive sails.)
To wax philosophical for a moment, I view goodness as the radiant human virtue that binds relationships together, that brings hope in the midst of despair, that is at the core of the human spirit. You could look at goodness as one of the ways love is made manifest in the world. We admire people who we describe with words like, "She's a really good person." We may even aspire to be like them, while secretly doubting that we want to.
"Work is love made visible." -- Khalil Gibran
There's Really a Corporate Conference called "Love Summit"?
I was recently a keynote speaker at the first ever corporate conference called the "Love Summit" in Portland, Oregon. Several hundred entrepreneurs, business leaders, consultants, MBA students and intrigued individuals met to discuss the role of compassion and love in today's business world. Speaker after speaker shared stories of how putting love as a business priority is creating stronger companies, more engaged employees, happier customers, and more creative ideas. The buzz in the room was strong, with many sensing a humanitarian feel-good trend was about to hit the mainstream.
Many entrepreneurs start with a genuine a vision to do good in the world, to make people's lives easier, or to solve a problem that previously was unsolvable. Business -- work -- is an expression of our love and care for humanity, or at least for our neighbors. For millennia goodness has been one of the noblest of human qualities. So how has it become a second class citizen in today's frenetic, ADD world? Most companies today value masculine qualities such as strength, ambition, competitiveness, power, domination, and charisma, but I would suggest that goodness is the very nourishment desperately needed in our organizations today so these other qualities don't become the cause of our self-destruction.
Certainly in the past few decades the trend toward businesses founded on socially-responsible principles has gained momentum. Triple-bottom line and quadruple bottom line organizations have become stars in their industries for valuing human values above or at least alongside profit. In my own experience as one of the founding members and later CEO of HeartMath for eleven years, I saw that the goodness we tried to express through every interaction with customers, partners, vendors, and researchers, helped us build an extremely strong and loyal following that has helped sustain the organization for more than 25 years.
But for most business owners and corporations, the heart is the missing factor in our mindset and in our culture that could allow us to create the life of our dreams. Goodness is the crystal pure gift from our heart to ourselves, to our customers, to our organizations, and to the world. What customers wouldn't be loyal to an organization they felt was truly doing good in the world, and backing it up by treating its people and its customers in ways that felt good.
As the HeartMath Institute has proven in numerous clinical and organizational studies, positive emotions such as compassion, care, love, and "goodness" create profound biochemical and neurological changes in our bodies that are inherently good for us physiologically when we are experiencing these feelings. Lower blood pressure, increased immunity, enhanced cognitive function, and improved communication skills are all examples of the types of benefits that values like goodness bring to the individuals and organizations practicing them. We all know how customers feel when a product or service or salesperson is genuinely caring and solves a problem with grace and care. Doesn't the range of feelings and qualities I'm uniting under the umbrella of "goodness" make remarkably good business sense?
How does goodness relate to your professional life? Could a mantra of, "let's do good today", produce a good ROI? Businesses are complex organisms in which competing interests and priorities must be weighed out before proper decisions can be made. Asking ourselves, "is this a good decision?" may not be the only question to ask; not at all. But are we asking this often enough? Are we investing in goodness? Probably not.
Be good my friends. Be good to yourself, as well as to others. Do good today... and tomorrow. The world needs more goodness.
Bruce Cryer is a renaissance man, whose passions include being a business mentor, writer, speaker, keynote performer, photographer and co-founder of the project "What Makes Your Heart Sing?" to awaken inspiration in people and organizations. A former actor/singer/dancer on Broadway, he is the co-author of From Chaos to Coherence: The Power to Change Performance, and the Harvard Business Review article, "Pull the Plug on Stress". He is also a cancer and staph infection survivor, happily singing and dancing again on two titanium hips. http://BruceCryer.com