Bad for Business

“The bottom line for business is that integrity is not always good for the bottom line.”

When writing about the virtues of integrity, a huge dilemma is that its definition, quite often, is distinctly unique to each individual. Two different and principled people can possess completely contradictory opinions on a subject yet both provide compelling arguments for each ones’ point of view. However, what has been very disturbing is seeing the lack of integrity which so-called “smart” businesspeople are demonstrating. It’s as though they realize owning integrity has damaging effects to their profit margins.

I have nothing against ingenuity, inventiveness, or entrepreneurship; nor is there is anything wrong in wanting to earn lots of money. Where the problem lies is when a business venture leads one to overlook the value of integrity for the sake of earning an extra buck. Most often, that kind of opportunism leads to unwarranted damage and harm to many unsuspecting and undeserving people.

It seems to be a growing trend in business to give customers less while charging them more. This isn’t simply a result of inflation but rather an intrinsic part of the corporate mindset to appease the shareholders in the name of profit and not for the purpose of good business practices and principles.

Affordable housing isn’t just an issue in the larger metropolitan cities on this planet; it has reached the level of a global crisis in the developed world. Likewise, healthcare for many, at least in the US, consumes a greater percentage of the family’s income than actual food does.

Why is this happening at this point in time? Is it some unforeseen phenomenon or unexplainable event?

I believe the reason for this is precisely because providing goods or services at a fair and decent price is no longer the business plan. Instead, the trend in commerce is now turning every possible occasion into outlandish opportunities for profit while deeming integrity more of a liability than an asset.

Why can’t commerce be more centered around integrity? Why can’t products be produced and sold at a fair but profitable margin? There have been a barrage of posts alluding to increasing customer service, creating a more productive work environment, and treating employees with courtesy and higher regard. But the corporate mentality seems to be leaning toward the welfare of the shareholders rather than those actually producing what the company sells. Business models are more focused on destroying competition through nefarious means – stifling competition, immorally fixing prices, and having absolutely no concern for the destruction left in their wake.

It’s time we value business leaders for their integrity and not for their ruthless potential for opportunism. Leaders in all sectors of business need to stand out with sincerity, honesty, and integrity; outstanding behavior is what ought to be commended and extolled. Conduct which ascribes values of trustworthiness and fairness should be the ones which get the acclaim and actions clearly displaying that revenue generation is the end which justifies the means, ought to be shunned and discredited.

It’s also no less important for those among the ranks to pursue these same ideals. It will take a concerted effort and although mistakes will happen, we learn from those opportunities and inspire others to do the same.

It’s nearly impossible to live in a world without business and it’s also vital to make a profit. But it’s not impossible to intertwine integrity in a company’s business plan. If not being an opportunist and not taking advantage of others for the purpose of generating maximum profits makes one a bad businessperson, then by all means, I want to be known as “Bad for Business”.

My thanks to Chris Charles of Unsplash for the beautiful picture. I look forward to your comments.

Thoughts of value

Photo by SK Yeong on Unsplash

“Integrity can involve choices which alter our entire lives.”

A discussion about integrity frequently includes a few words regarding being right or wrong. Last week’s article triggered comments from some who lost lifelong friendships over having their personal integrity questioned. When these situations occur, it can be a difficult time for either person, wondering if someone whom you’ve cherished for years may now only exist in your memories.

Rarely is it something we plan for or even expect. Nonetheless, maintaining one’s integrity may compel us to make these kinds of difficult choices.

There are countless reasons why friendships end in this way but the question we should ask ourselves is: “What were my intentions”? Was I flaunting my moral proclivity while criticizing my friend’s (or the other way around)? Did I ridicule the other person and listen only to find the absurdity in his or her argument? Often one or both sides feel their opinion only is right and any consideration of opposing ideas is a complete waste of time. This is a recipe for disaster and nothing can be done to remedy the situation or the relationship.

It’s ironic that the consideration of right versus wrong is the divisive factor in terminating any friendship. But determining what is right and what is wrong is not as black and white as we think it ought to be. The world would definitely be a much less complicated place if there were a list we could refer to when confronted with difficult choices. Yes, it would be less complicated but also a lot more restrictive as well.

Our diversity and differences enhance the unexpected episodes in life and while some are frustrating, many can be seen as opportunities for growth and development. Growth is constantly happening around us and we can do our best to influence that growth to our advancement or let life happen and thus dictate it for us.

Continually scrutinizing our own integrity is the best way to preserve and magnify it. Pointing out where it lacks in others may indicate a weakness or be a sign of doubt about our own. While it may compel us to do what we believe is right, it does not demand that we compel everyone else to do the same.

Integrity is not an easy subject to corral since so many of us have different values. While there are some basic principles upon which we can all agree, certain topics, and especially those of a political or religious nature, have totally opposite opinions; even though both sides use the exact same texts to rationalize and state arguments with entirely contrary outcomes.

But one thing which is hard to argue, is how much does our integrity negatively impact the lives of others. It is never an excuse to dupe someone for your benefit nor to usurp control over them. More importantly, it’s something that needs more proof than someone simply declaring you possess it.

Integrity complements other principles like honesty, sincerity, and compassion. I believe that these values all help raise a person’s awareness which ultimately motivates one to become mindful of the world around us. It compels us to encourage these traits in others and inspire them to do the same. For this reason alone, it behooves us all to continually examine our own ideals and principles to make the world a better place now and for the future.

My thanks to S.K Yeong for the beautiful photograph and I look forward to your comments.

Grammatically Thinking

Photo by Rahul Gupta on Unsplash

“Helping others should never center around how they perceive you.”

There are many factors which can shape, broaden, or significantly influence
our own personal development. Looking at a few of my past articles, however,
may give the distinct impression that individual growth is often predicated on
uncovering errors, mistakes, or other issues which may appear to impair our own self-confidence. That is never my intention. Perhaps I’ve been focusing on these kinds of events because they have provided the greatest impact in my own life.

Self-confidence is an important factor for increasing personal growth. However,
understanding the difference between self-assuredness and arrogance sometimes
lies in a murky place. The inclination to be correct and factual is important
and not exclusively in the area of self-growth. But is it possible to be both
right and wrong in the very same moment?

I’ve had a longstanding fascination with words and their usage. It began with writing simple poems in elementary school. While in junior high, diagraming sentences was a favorite class exercise. In high school, I took 3 years of Latin – simply because I enjoyed the challenge. One of my fondest memories with my father was when we spent an hour looking up words in the dictionary and discovering their origins. Although I never grew to the level of a copyeditor, I periodically would refer to myself as a “grammar snob”.

There was an important lesson which someone very dear to me pointed out. At times I would also deem myself the “grammar police” and actually corrected people who used improper grammar. It was not a constant activity and I truthfully can’t tell you what prompted that reaction; however, when it was suggested to me this was an arrogant response, I had no choice but to sincerely deliberate her words.

My first reaction was to justify why it was correct. “Don’t people want to know when they are speaking incorrectly?” I reasoned poorly. It did not take long to realize that the underlying reason for this action was more accurately needing to be seen as intelligent. Being “right” was not for their benefit and how would something so smug be perceived as smart? Perhaps were I able to read their minds, I would have seen the word smart being replaced with the word “smarmy.”

I could argue ad nauseum that a double negative is incorrect. When a person says, “I don’t know nothing” what the are really saying is “There’s nothing I don’t know.” However, being right in this instance doesn’t – and didn’t – matter. The intention was not centered around helping others and there was no doubt in my mind that I knew precisely what they meant.

Communication is important. Understanding what others are conveying is the key. There are times when proper grammar and usage are vital but those are mainly in legal and technical realms. Everyday conversations don’t require such scrutiny. This one weakness, which was a once-perceived strength, has made a huge difference in my communication with others. It transformed the listening experience and genuinely provided a more engaging as well as caring exchange. After all, it’s next to impossible to help others when the concern is centered on yourself.

My thanks to Rahul Gupta on Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments. I’d also like to again thank Anuj Agarwal and Feedspot for listing me on his top 50 inspirational posts https://blog.feedspo .com/inspirational_blogs/. I’m listed there under my WordPress site:: https://globalcreativeempowermentgroup.wordpress.com/

Beyond thinking

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash

“Real change is made when the direction includes more than just yourself.”

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects or personal growth is a realization that you’ve been wrong in some aspect of your thinking. Many find great satisfaction in being recognized for their intellectual attributes. When some flaw or error is discovered, it may feel like a blow to one’s self-confidence. However, any moment of self-growth should never be construed in this way.

Last week’s article challenged people to constantly reexamine thought patterns and process as well as be open to the possibility that change may be needed. But it’s not always clear when or if a change should be made. It’s easy for me to suggest a change is needed but what are the signs and how do we know when it’s necessary?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a local expert who could divvy our stellar advice so we could immediately commence on our journey of unfettered self-development leading to a bright and thriving future?

So how do we know it is time for a change? As just about any other of life’s quandaries, there is no one answer for all of us. Many times, we won’t know until after the fact whether or not the decision was correct. We do our best to gather the information, weigh everything carefully, seek advice, but ultimately, the decision is ours on what action needs to be taken. We must make that determination and ultimately reap or suffer with the consequences of our choices.

It has always been my aim never to tell any of my readers what they ought to do. Even if I were 100% correct it wouldn’t matter because each one of us must embrace and take complete responsibility for that choice. I do recall in years past there were many times I sought the advice of others specifically to feel less blame and responsibility for what the coming result would be.

There are, however, a few indicators which should set off warning signals and I believe should not be a part of your thinking. The first is perhaps my biggest concern. If a person believes the way he or she believes, thinks, or feels about a particular issue is the only correct way, and anyone else who feels differently is wrong, I recommend standing in front of a mirror to see who is really wrong. This is a recipe for disaster. Not only does it instill narrowmindedness and foster arrogance, it initiates and promotes division and strife.

Secondly, if your ideas encourage taking full advantage of others for your benefit, you should definitely reevaluate your intent. I often error on the side of kindness and while many see this as an act of weakness, it actually takes more strength. Imagine for a moment if everyone took this approach, what a better world this would be. Unfortunately, nefarious actions – especially those which tend to generate huge income – are frequently lauded. It’s time that honor, good intention, and kindness usurp the spotlight. Those who’ve been in power learn to manipulate the system specifically to benefit themselves and subjugate those out of their group or trying to annul their power.

Personal development will no doubt require certain modifications in our thinking. But if those changes include exclusion, division, and manipulation, the change is in the wrong direction. Growth ought to shift towards honesty, integrity and compassion. Not because of some reward we’ll get by doing them but because it’s the decent thing to do and also what we hope to see in others

My thanks to v2osk on Unsplash for the beautiful photo and I look forward to your comments. I am also thrilled to mention that “Feedspot” has listed me as one of their 50 inspirational blogs. You can see more inspirational posts here: https://blog.feedspot.com/inspirational_blogs/ Thank you Anuj Agarwal for such an honor.

Transformative Thinking

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“A thorough look into our thought processes may reveal some hidden surprises”

The ability to quickly and correctly remember information we’ve learned is a different skill from that which uses reason and logic to make rational conclusions. However, what they both have in common is the capacity to think. From the first day of school, many encourage us to sharpen and maximize our brain power, knowing it will serve us well as we continue throughout life. Whether it’s recalling facts on a history test or calculating a string of algebraic equations, most people work hard to be perceived as smart. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be intelligent. The perception alone often adds to one’s credibility and is advantageous in many circumstances.

My five previous posts have all been centered around the thinking process and more specifically, continually questioning the substance, intent, and viability of those procedures and methods developed during our lifetime. Uncovering the errors and misconceptions of those processes can ultimately become gigantic moments of learning and self-development.

There are countless examples of how centuries-old scientific facts were proven incorrect. Some of these ancient and prehistoric truths are still debated today. Similarly, there have been many people whom history has highly praised yet further research has discovered some horrible attitudes and convictions about human rights and dignity. This is not a declaration nor admonition of anyone being wrong, it is simply pointing out that ideas, beliefs, and even facts, can and have changed.

One of the most frequent phrases repeated to my clients is: “Always ask questions. Answers may change but if the question is never asked, there’s no need to seek the answers.” Personally, I feel better when I’ve had a “transformative thinking” moment than when I spout some highly-regarded philosophical thought I’ve treasured for years.

Conviction and certainty in our own beliefs is something we all seek. It provides a sense of comfort and consistency in what has made us who we’ve truly become. However, it may also create a propensity to seek out others with likeminded ideals; leading to groupthink, exclusion and the feeling that everyone else disagreeing is completely wrong. Conversely, there are those who claim to be openminded yet may frequently dismiss points of view from those they perceive as narrowminded; which in and of itself, seems narrowminded.

The key is to constantly reexamine our thought processes. Be open to the possibility that change may be needed. There isn’t anyone alive who hasn’t had his or her mind changed about something. And merely asking a question does not demand the answer must change. Sometimes reevaluating our truths enhances our resolve and offers additional insights into why we believe the way we do.

In today’s world rife with division, blame, and animosity, now more than ever it’s important to repeatedly and relentlessly analyze our thinking processes. Are there any selfish motives behind our exclusionary wants? Do our efforts promoting goodwill mask self-aggrandizing intentions? They may or may not; but without asking the question, we may be refusing or denying the truth. Sometimes when we take an honest and sincere look at our own thinking processes, we may be surprised at what’s been hiding.

My thanks to Ben White of Unsplash for the wonderfully fitting picture. I look forward to your comments.

The thinking gap

Red Rock Canyon, outside Las Vegas, Nevada USA

“Forcing others to do things your way will often constrain them to make your same mistakes.”

The one inevitability about personal growth and development is that it typically points out something within ourselves which needs to be changed. Often, it indicates a part of our thinking, perceptions, or awareness which we believed were correct, but now realize contained flaws. It is a daily goal of mine to find at least one growth moment no matter how small or major it may be.

A rather compelling moment happened last June. I play second trumpet in the Henderson Symphony and the upcoming concert featured some popular jazz standards. We recruited the assistance of a trumpet player from the local university named Kurt. This was his first time performing with the orchestra and after hearing him warm up, he had on him what brass players refer to as quite a “set of chops.” One of the pieces on the program was, “In The Mood” which featured a solo for my part. I hadn’t practiced enough before the first rehearsal and wanting to spare myself some embarrassment, I asked him to trade parts. He shook his head no and immediately my thoughts went to, “whatever happened to respect your elders”?

Needless to say, I was a bit agitated but shortly after the first note, I realized he was playing the first part and had he agreed to switch, the music would have been more demanding than my current one. When the time came for my solo, I stumbled through it and after the first run-through, I thanked him for not obliging. This young man’s refusal to accept what was essentially a demand, spared me additional awkwardness and also forced me to go home and “woodshed” the part; compelling me to do a better job.

Not only was this a lesson I’ll never forget, it also sheds light on another important subject. Many in my generation often dismiss or scorn the attitudes of those in younger ones; but I have a different outlook from most Baby Boomers. Gen Xers and Millennials are frequently criticized for many faults; however, I also recall being a teen and having adults criticize me and my friends for not doing things the way they did as children. It’s nearly engrained in the human species to do so and complaining or forcing our own will on them won’t make any change except perhaps for the worse.

Last week’s article highlighted a view that if I believed in something passionately, it doesn’t require everyone else to believe the same in order to be “right.” Today’s young adults are not shy about dealing with issues differently from my peers. At times, I wish they were more open to heeding my experience and learning from those mistakes. Albeit, there’s no doubt in my mind those adults who critiqued me had a similar thought.

There is one fact which cannot be denied nor overlooked about the younger generations and that is they ARE the future. If there is anything grim about it then it ought to be our responsibility to help build it and not complain or in some cases, even sabotage it.

Rather than only looking for reasons to gripe about their actions and behaviors, focus also on seeing positive ones in today’s young adults as well. Recognize constructive behaviors and freely compliment them. This nurtures and inspires productive conduct and is the best way to leave a greater footprint on the future of this planet.

Granted, certain behaviors should never be ignored but that’s true regardless of your peer group. There is no reason why all of us – both young and old – can’t work together to mold the brightest future ever. My generation can offer words of wisdom while at the same time, learn from the energy and enthusiasm of younger ones. The worst thing we can do is force them into doing things the way we did. Otherwise, they’ll be prone to make our very same mistakes.

This week, see how much kindness you can compliment and inspire; especially from those younger than yourself. Thanks as always and I look forward to your comments.

Universal Thought

“The beliefs of the Honorable do not always align.”

Children often dream of what they want to be when they grow up. Adults, however, mainly want to have jobs they enjoy; one in which they feel valued, respected, and with opportunities for growth. There are plenty of studies showing how employment impacts our health and mental wellbeing which is far more valuable than what wages alone offers.

Choosing a profession such as a counselor, therapist, or life coach, is frequently initiated by a difficult or challenging event which radically changed that person’s life and now inspires them to help others. That was certainly the case for me. After my marriage fell apart, I was fortunate to find a great therapist. But it wasn’t until three years later, upon completion of my book, when that feeling truly ignited.

I’ll always remember the freedom I felt when my problem was finally pinpointed. The moment I realized it was my own thinking and the negative beliefs I had about myself that was the biggest stumbling block in my life.

Others have described these awakening moments as a weight lifted off their shoulders. Mine was more of an incredible feeling of liberation while ironically giving me a better sense of direction. Although there was still plenty of healing and spiritual growth to be had, there was a confidence before that I’d never fully realized.

My book chronicles part of that journey but mainly focuses on shame and low self-esteem I did not want to admit. The title of the book is: Shame On Me – Healing a Life of Shame-Based Thinking. It details how pervasive shame is, yet continues to go unnoticed by most people. It creates feelings from total unworthiness to complete arrogance. I believed this one concept was the most important one and what the world needed to hear to answer many of its problems.

To this day, I continue to be passionate about this message and wish that everyone could undergo a similar awareness to mine. But there is also something else of equal importance I learned and that is no matter how committed I am to that message, if others don’t share that same passion, it does not make them wrong.

This is perhaps one of the greatest obstacles for many. When we experience something so transformative and lifechanging, we want everyone else to experience that same excitement. No matter how altruistic, unselfish, or noble our concerns appear, we cannot demand or expect everyone to be on board with our entire train of thought. No one philosophy holds the solutions to the entire world’s downfalls.

This realization does not put a damper on my enthusiasm. I continue to become more passionate about helping people understand the devastating effects of shame and guide them through their emotional healing process. But I also understand there are others with a message as passionate and healing as mine. The ultimate goal is helping others, not for everyone else to validate and honor my beliefs.

My thanks to Photo by Alfred Schrock on Unsplash for the beautiful photo and I look forward to your comments.