“We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life.” ~Edwin Markham
Back in the day, I was this whiz kid computer genius. There were no smart phones or tablets or even PCs then. Individuals couldn’t afford computers, only companies could. So this was before the time that a teenager could sharpen his computing chops from a sequestered back bedroom on a home-built computer with an overclocked motherboard.
In short, to get such skills meant I had to forgo getting other skills: skills like human interaction and, well, social maturity.
Needless to say, I was finding that people didn’t get along with me very well. I thought it was the dominance of my blazing intellect intimidating them. After all, people twice my age were paying me big money to do things they could never hope to do for themselves.
Still, living in a world where people merely tolerate you because they have no choice isn’t so great. It hadn’t crossed my mind yet that it wasn’t so great for everyone else, mind you. I had certainly noticed that it wasn’t so delightful for me however.
Where There’s Golden There’s Gold?
So I decided to test out the Golden Rule. You know the one: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
If you think this is going to be a story of good triumphing over evil, I have some bad news to report. I tried the Golden Rule and guess what? It didn’t work at all.
I wanted to be treated with consideration so I was considerate. But people still didn’t do what I wanted. I wanted to be included so I told people what I was up to. They didn’t care and they still left me out of their plans. I wanted to move up the ladder so I helped others be upwardly mobile. But they didn’t take me with them.
All That Glitters Is Not Gold
Was the Golden Rule broken? I thought so. But one thing still bugged me. I couldn’t deny that it seemed to work for other people and that they swore by it.
It didn’t become clear to me until years later that I never really implemented the Golden Rule back then, I merely imitated it. I focused on the “do” part. What I didn’t get was that there was an implied principle that I was circumventing entirely. My intent was all wrong. I was entirely selfish about it. So guess what? I got that back from others. I demonstrated “selfish” to the world and so that is what the world gave me.
What I am about to state is not an improvement on the Golden Rule. It is merely a illumination of its profound perfection. Check this out: Intend for others what you would have them intend for you.
You can “do” without good intent. But that runs counter to what Jesus was implying and it gets you poor results. Fully embrace the principle and the sun shines and the birds sing.
Applying the Golden Rule to Gold
There is nowhere where the Golden Rule, properly applied, works better than in business. If you would only stop to look at your business practices from the receiving end, you might have an eye-opening experience.
Making your brain go to such a place can be a lot harder than it looks. It’s a lot more fun to calculate the profit potential of your sales funnel than it is to really play out the experience of it from your prospect’s perspective. It is tough to let go of the satisfaction of lowering your variable costs long enough to feel how your customer will experience the cuts.
There is a cold, analytical approach to this whereby you calculate how many sales you will lose by engaging certain cost cutting practices and then factoring the impact on profits. It might actually come out good on paper and even in practice — if your only measure is immediate dollars.
But have you ever calculated the cost of kindness? Have you built it into your sales process? Have you factored in gratitude? Is it a part of your customer service regime? I am not just talking about getting emotional or elevating “feeling” at your company. I am talking about actually tracking and evaluating and monetizing. Yes, there is a bottom line impact to considering human beings as human beings.
There is no way to give lip service to this (or rather no effective way). Faking it is not only impractical, it is actually costly. You expend resources faking it (time, effort, even that most hallowed thing: money) but you won’t get efficient results. No, the only way this works is to actually engage on an emotional level, on a human level.
That engagement has to spread out from you too, out to your employees and contractors and partners and affiliates. Yes, even non-employees have to be good representatives of what you are really about. If you can’t see it working that way, you can’t afford such weak relationships. You need to have the impact necessary on everyone who represents what you do.
“Monetize your kindness.” click to tweet
At this point you may be realizing you have a lot of thinking to do. To see everything from your customer’s viewpoint will take some time and introspection. Oh, and then you ought to look at it from your employee’s perspective and your family’s perspective and your community’s perspective and your competitor’s perspective.
Here’s why you will make that effort: they are all having an impact on you and your business. We don’t live or work or do business in a vacuum. Others are “doing unto you” already. So take the responsibility necessary to guide them by example. Because kindness and gratitude and humility and generosity pay in real dollars. It’s just good business.
What are you “doing unto others”? Tell us about it by commenting below.
Photo credit: photosteve101