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Monday, November 8, 2010

Goodwill to All: Reflections on a kinder, gentler Entrepreneur

"... in times when we may be having trouble making our own dreams come true, the best way to transform our energy is to help another. An act of creation with the universe is the same whether we intend it for ourselves or someone else..."

This little snippet came across my Facebook news feed the other day and I've been really thinking about how this attitude is becoming the "new normal." It could in fact, even be a happy byproduct of social media marketing and networking, transparency and real-time interactions however virtual they may be. It takes the The Law of Attraction out of the abstract and Golden Rule out of religion and into the small business marketplace. And that might just be a very good thing, and not just for Entrepreneurs.

I’ve noticed a sea change in the mindset of many of the people I work and interact with every day. No longer are they grasping for success in an opportunistic, parasitic, greed-is-good sort of way. Rather, they’re seeking the good life in a kinder, gentler, more holistic way, working to become better human beings and help others do likewise. It’s interesting. As the economy worsened, the floods ravaged, and Mother Earth shook, and blew, and stormed, more of us reflected on what really matters in life. As many were forced to put away the expensive toys and distractions, they began noticing their inner lives.

...and that it’s just not cool to be a jerk anymore, anywhere.

As a society we’re realizing that we really are all in this together—and we need to be kind to one another. For both individuals, and organizations and societies, the journey to goodness will surely take time—but the process itself is energizing and joyful. When you make the decision to become a better person, two things happen. First, you get an immediate surge of happiness and validation. Second, others will respond to the change in your behavior by changing their own. Goodness begets goodness, so to speak.

The holidays are almost here with them comes our yearly dose of “goodwill toward men.” At Thanksgiving we celebrate gratitude. At Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa we honor the Higher Power and draw our families and friends close. All this positive energy culminates in a collective fever of self-improvement as we make New Year’s Resolutions. But as 2010 gives way to 2011, many of us won’t return to our self-centered, apathetic, ego-centric, materialistic ways. Instead, we’ll seek to keep the goodwill going.

Why? Like I said, it’s just not cool to be a jerk anymore.

The cultural momentum which labeled everything, including people, as a means to one’s own happiness, had become almost overwhelming. One engaged in relationships, and participated in groups, aiming only to find happiness for oneself (instead of intending the good of the other). But relationships based on either utility or pleasure are not very satisfying. These are inherently fragile relationships, since the time can come when the other person is no longer useful to us, or no longer serves as a source of pleasure.

So, think about this: Take a close look at your own motives. In all relationships ask yourself, Am I intending the good of the other, or seeking to serve myself? Awareness is the first step toward change. People are starting to realize that life can and should be rich and full and that this state of being doesn’t have much to do with money. It has to do with goodness. Yes, prosperity often flows from goodness, but it’s a byproduct, not a goal in and of itself. More and more of us are asking, What kind of person do I really want to be? And how can I BE that person?

Love. Practice it. Our culture has perpetuated tragically immature views on what love is. We believe it’s a “feeling”; that it’s conditional; or that it’s synonymous with good sex. Of course, all of these misunderstandings result in misery instead of fulfillment. Whether it’s practiced in the context of marriage, friendship, or even work relationships, love actually means “intending the good of the other.” Unfortunately, our culture of individualism tends to work against practicing love in its true form. At home and in the workplace, always, always, always treat others with dignity. Protecting human dignity is at the very heart of being a good person (and not a jerk).

Hope. Cultivate it. To squelch hope doesn’t just cause momentary unhappiness, it influences people not to do the things they need to do. The cancer patient who doesn’t have hope won’t work toward his own recovery. The child who’s told he’ll never go to college won’t do his homework. The budding entrepreneur won’t chase her dream. So you see, taking away hope from others harms them in a very real way. And it harms you as well.

Gratitude. Awaken it. Are you grateful for all that you have? I'm committed to paying attention to all that I have: friends and family who love me, clients, customer-friends, and business associates who help me earn my income, the beautiful world in which I live. I am grateful. I am mindful to say “thank you” to others, the simplest form of courtesy. We have all felt annoyance when people fail to verbalize gratitude for something significant we have done for them. This is not only ingratitude, but also rudeness. It is being a jerk.

Goodness, gratitude, enhances the good reputation of those who do good deeds. When you speak a kind word about them to others there is a magnetism, expressions of gratitude bring further rewards. It's more than a social networking business strategy.

Its about really connecting to become better human beings. Two way conversations in which I take time to listen, and you do. Its about gratitude, dignity, hope and love. It's about Goodwill to All! It's about time!

May you be blessed!

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