Let’s try to move away from the stereotypical image of the shrewd and cunning businessman who would not blink at selling this wife and kids for the right price or who would lie, cheat, and steal just to get ahead. For fellow Star Trek fans, this stereotype would call to mind the Ferengis who have as their revered codex the Rules of Acquisition as a reflection of their ultra-capitalist society. We are at the age of intense capitalism, yet we must not forget that we are humans before we are capitalists.
As members of the human race, we must not neglect to espouse the qualities which humanity should be proud of and these would be generosity, faith, honesty, resilience, resourcefulness, kindness, compassion and goodness. These qualities which we would appreciate in a friend, a family member, and/or a spouse, should also be the same qualities which we hold dear in the realm of business. There seems to be a double standard in business at times where when someone is “too earnest” or “too honest” it becomes a criticism. It reflects that the values which are seen as pertinent or relevant to the business world are not the same qualities which we might want to find someone whom we would idolize as the epitome of human goodness such as Mother Theresa.
This dichotomy in commendable traits creates a schism in our psychological development as we reach the age of maturity where one must earn a living whether through providing services or products. While growing up, we are taught through parables and fairy tales about the importance of being good and honest, and yet when we enter the real world, we find that the qualities admired in a business person is aggressiveness and ruthlessness and we find that we might have been mislead and therefore all the cautionary fairy tales warning us of cunning and deceitful character ill-prepare us for entering a capitalist society where opportunism and shrewdness are admired, valued, or at least, become seemingly favourable traits to getting ahead.
There is a disconnect between the values and ethics which are espoused by our religious institutions and spiritual education with the worldly concerns and requirements of thriving and surviving in a complex society. We then become schizophrenic in trying to both be a good person to our friends and family on a personal level and yet be calculating and cold on the business or career aspect and only very few people, if any, can sustain these unrealistic and incompatible expectations.
We must be aware that it is unfair to preach goodness, kindness, and compassion to our young ones while at the same time expecting them to thrive in a cynical and savvy world without considerable confusion, trauma, and upset. There needs to be a paradigm shift in what is considered valuable in our society. It need not be said that the qualities of goodness, kindness, and compassion are immensely preferable in every facet of life–even in business–though they should be balanced by awareness and applied with discretion and caution. There must be a way of thriving business and society without losing our soul in the process.
(c) Niconica 2013