Most folk assumed it was because they ran a successful business.
In fact it was the other way around...
A tradition in the business was that the owner always wore a big lapel badge, saying Business Is Great!
The business was indeed generally great, although it went through tough times like any other. What never changed however was the owner's attitude, and the badge saying Business Is Great!
Everyone who saw the badge for the first time invariably asked, "What's so great about business?" Sometimes people would also comment that their own business was miserable, or even that they personally were miserable or stressed.
Anyhow, the Business Is Great! badge always tended to start a conversation, which typically involved the owner talking about lots of positive aspects of business and work, for example:
- the pleasure of meeting and talking with different people every day
- the reward that comes from helping staff take on new challenges and experiences
- the fun and laughter in a relaxed and healthy work environment
- the fascination in the work itself, and in the other people's work and businesses
- the great feeling when you finish a job and do it to the best of your capabilities
- the new things you learn every day - even without looking to do so
- and the thought that everyone in business is blessed - because there are many millions of people who would swap their own situation to have the same opportunities of doing a productive meaningful job, in a civilized well-fed country, where we have no real worries.
And so the list went on. And no matter how miserable a person was, they'd usually end up feeling a lot happier after just a couple of minutes listening to all this infectious enthusiasm and positivity. It is impossible to quantify or measure attitude like this, but to one extent or another it's probably a self-fulfilling prophecy, on which point, if asked about the badge in a quiet moment, the business owner would confide:
"The badge came first. The great business followed."
I cannot emphasize the importance of being positive. It is contagious and puts our mind on the 'right path'. Reasonable skepticism is good to discover faults and find room for improvement, but the over riding attitude must be positivity - it hints at what is possible and probable; it allows us to assume risk from a position of strength; it builds camaraderie and team spirit moving in one direction.
Once there was a very rich and greedy man. He loved and hoarded jewels. One day a visitor asked to see them. So the jewels were brought out, amid much expensive security, and the two men gazed at the wonderful stones.
As the visitor was leaving he said, "Thank you for sharing your jewels with me."
"I didn't give them to you," exclaimed the rich man, "They belong to me."
"Yes of course," replied the visitor, "And while we enjoyed the jewels just the same, the real difference between us is your trouble and expense of buying and protecting them."
Greed, ownership, accumulation of wealth, proper perspective of wealth, hoarding or enjoying life.
"God, I've been thinking.." says Eve one day.
"What's on your mind Eve?" says God.
"Well, I know that you created me and this beautiful garden and all of these wonderful creatures, but lately I've been feeling that maybe there's more to life."
"Go on..." says God.
"Sometimes I get a bit bored - I fancy a bit of fun. And I get a bit fed up with all the heaving lifting and carrying, and warding off the mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers, not to mention that bloody snake. This garden can be dangerous place."
"I see," says God, pausing for thought.
"Eve, I have a cunning plan," says God, "I shall create Man for you."
"Man?" asks Eve, "What is Man?"
"Man..." says God, "Is a flawed creature. He will have many weaknesses and disgusting habits. Man will lie, cheat and behave like an idiot - in fact mostly he'll be a complete pain in the backside. But on the plus side he'll be big and strong, and will be able to protect you, and hunt and kill things, which might be handy sometimes. He will tend to lose control of mind and body when aroused, but with a bit training can reach an acceptable standard in the bedroom department, if you know what I mean."
"Hmm," says Eve, "Seems like this Man idea might be worth a try, but tell me God, is there anything else I need to know?"
"Just this," says God, "Man comes with one condition... In keeping with his arrogant, deluded, self-important character, Man will naturally believe that he was made first, and frankly we all have better things to do than argue, so you must keep all this a secret between us, if that's okay with you. You know, woman to woman.."
Business is still a male dominated arena. One must know how man behaves and what makes them tick. Too often, the ones with the ego will lose to the one who understands there are infinitely more important things in life than ego to succeed in business strategy.
This is a true story. Some years ago the following exchange was broadcast on an Open University sociology TV programme.
An interviewer was talking to a female production-line worker in a biscuit factory. The dialogue went like this:
Interviewer: How long have you worked here?
Production Lady: Since I left school (probably about 15 years).
Interviewer: What do you do?
Production Lady: I take packets of biscuits off the conveyor belt and put them into cardboard boxes.
Interviewer: Have you always done the same job?
Production Lady: Yes.
Interviewer: Do you enjoy it?
Production Lady: Oooh Yes, it's great, everyone is so nice and friendly, we have a good laugh.
Interviewer (with a hint of disbelief): Really? Don't you find it a bit boring?
Production Lady: Oh no, sometimes they change the biscuits...
- Do not impose your own needs and ambitions on to other people who may not share them.
- Don't assume that things that motivate you will motivate someone else.
- Recognise that sources of happiness may vary widely between people.