I grew up steeped in the idealism of the 60s. I and many of my generation 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. 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 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.)
Goodness is 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. 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.
“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” — Henry David Thoreau
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. 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 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. 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.
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.
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. BruceCryer.com