Today’s post is the featured article from the August 2011 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.
Of all the nine years of articles I have written for The Front Porch, this one may seem to take the cake for being the softest, most touchy-feely, and syrupy
business articles I have ever written. I can already hear my loyal readers saying … then it must be really touchy-feely! But don’t be fooled. It may hold the greatest potential for the transformation of how you see your work, how you show-up in relationships, how you work on teams and how you serve your clients, customers or patients.
The most powerful tool you have is a gift that all of us have. I am convinced some of us have forgotten how to engage it or have lost sight we even have it. Like a skill, this gift can go dormant. To use it is a conscious choice … even when it is not easy to choose it. In the short-term, it might feel better to not choose it. But it will always work to your advantage toward winning … not only for you, but for all … because it knows no other result but for all to win.
It is called love.
That’s right. Love. I am not talking about an acronym for something like: Leadership, Ownership, Vitality and Excellence. I am talking about the emotion of love. Not romantic love (although there are many parallels) … but rather the love of business.
We develop many technical skills along the way. We are taught the ropes of time management, the management of people and the ways of leadership. There are matrix frameworks, and metrics to measure. There are gimmicks and gadgets … and role plays to model the way.
But there is little on love. So why is it surprising that so few ever become effective at the love of business? Beyond an emotion, love is a choice. It comes alive when we choose to use it.
But, bottom-line, it just doesn’t feel like business.
I get that. That is because, in the justifiable attempt to create efficiency and profitability, we have often made business simply a transaction. Transactions lack emotion and they certainly lack any element of love. I propose where there is lack of emotion there is lack of genuine engagement, long-term loyalty or the potential for anything really meaningful.
In my book, Silent Alarm, Jack Turner (the main character) is recovering from a terrible accident of his own doing. His recovery in his hospital bed gives him more than ample time to think … deeply! Jack is given numerous doses of insight and wisdom along his path of recovery. One of his insights is that “Genuine relationships are God’s greatest gift … love is what matters.” While Jack learns how to reflect more deeply, he still is a very successful professional. He can’t help but to find a way to relate his deep level of thinking back to the practical aspects of his business life. This lesson was no exception.
Jack thought of all the workshops he had attended in his career: negotiating, customer service, team-building, handling tough clients, effective communications, and more. Jack thought it was strange that these workshops represented so many ideas and strategies for developing skills, but that no instructor had ever mentioned love.
He thought the best workshops could be presented in no more than fifteen minutes. He laughed as he imagined this scenario: “You want to give incredible customer service? Love them. You want to retain your employees? Love them. You want to build better relationships with tough people? Love them. You want to have effective teams? Love your teammates.”
I am convinced it sounds so absurd, so un-business like, maybe even unprofessional … and, of course, so touchy-feely and soft because we have never learned or have lost our capacity to do it. We often tend to blow-off and belittle that which we cannot do.
What if our capacity to achieve was limited only to the extent of our capacity to love?
One of my favorite leadership authors, Tim Sanders, captures the practical professional application of the love of business in his book, LOVE: The Killer App. He aptly suggests that love is not an option if you want to make the most of your professional journey … it is a requirement.
Love won’t always solve the short-term business challenges we face, but the challenges we face will evolve our capacity to love if we consciously choose to let them.
The most important skill we can possibly develop, at the core of a business and in the culture in which it operates, is our individual and collective capacity to love. It has the ability to change everything … including your life.