Kindness: A Business Contradiction or Useful Convention?
Doing hard work, providing highly skilled services, innovating a product, or opening a business while expecting nothing in return is typically viewed as a contradiction to profitable operations. This is why when Mark went without compensation for the hours of expertise he patiently lent me without asking for anything in return, I was humbled. He provided an example I knew I wanted to follow and it made me think. I wanted people to feel about me the way I felt about Mark, whom I considered admirable, trustworthy, loyal, grounded, and well rounded (basically somebody you want to invite into your life and stay there). Mark’s graciousness planted the seeds that blossomed into what helped me make great gains in my business, gains I call the Profit of Kindness—the no- strings-attached business transactions based in, and centered on, kindness, which ultimately leads to the payment of dividends in the form of increased:
How do I know? Because, Mark’s largesse cemented our relationship and my loyalty to him, and to this day that loyalty compels me to continue to employ him as my business coach and advisor. I credit him every chance I get, and recommend his services and sell copies of his book wherever I go. I like to think that the kindness currency that Mark paid me during my most challenging time has paid off for him tenfold in the areas noted in the bullet list, through my referrals and book sales. What I do know for sure is that the inspiration I personally received from Mark, which ultimately led me to implement kindness as currency in my own business, has led me to grow and flourish professionally and personally in ways I never dreamed possible. It is now a business convention that I strictly adhere to and teach.
Consider the Profit of Kindness a new kind of payment plan, one to which you commit yourself and your business in order to build equity in yourself, others, your goods and/or services, and your future. It is a plan based on seven pathways that generates returns on building trusting, long-lasting relationships through open, non-adversarial interfaces and ex- changes that result in mutually beneficial outcomes. It’s acting amiably, considerately, and treating others, even competitors, with dignity and respect—exactly as you would like them to treat you. It’s about giving and expecting nothing in return, and gaining substantially because of it.
In business, kindness would be considered one of those “soft skills,” probably one that we think we don’t have time for, whether we are a busy corporate executive or an under- staffed entrepreneur. We are running through our days, multitasking, distracted by technology and busy work, or reeling through the demands and stressors of work-life balance that we can’t seem to get a grip on. As we stay focused on the business elements that we think matter, like tasks and productivity and time management, we are unknowingly detracting from our efforts because we are not prioritizing the necessary component of success.
Dr. Stephen Covey famously wrote an article called “The Big Rocks of Life.” In it, he tells the story of a professor who pulled out a one-gallon glass mason jar and filled it with fist- sized rocks. Once he reached the tip top of the jar, he asked his class whether the jar was full. “Yes,” they answered in unison. Then, the professor grabbed a hidden stash of gravel and began to pour it in the Mason jar. As the sand and pebbles began to sliver through the cracks and crevices of the large rocks, the class began to murmur. They knew the answer to his next question, “Is the jar full now?” would be no, and this time the class was right. So, the professor took a pitcher of water and began to pour it into the Mason jar until it reached the brim. When he was finished, he proclaimed the jar finally full.
“What’s the moral of this illustration?” asked the professor.
“The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!” answered one zealous student.
“No,” the professor replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”1
What are the big rocks in your business? It is my contention that when building our brands and businesses, and in order to target and increase the big five results—profit, revenues, customers, connectivity, and prospects—our big rocks should not be built upon the typical business modalities, as they too often are. Instead, this book teaches that our big rocks are the solid masses only kindness can accumulate. Rock upon rock becomes the bedrock of business that holds us accountable to paying out and receiving kindness currency. In business, we must always start with kindness, and only after kindness is written into the institution of the business, can it be filled to the brim with all the other good stuff.
What I set out to do throughout this book is help business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives notice if the impor- tant rocks of kindness have been missing from their business model. And if they have, my seven pathways to generating kindness currency will help to turn everything around. Before I lay the foundation for the seven pathways, let’s get one thing straight about kindness: It is simple, but not easy.