March 31, 2006

Authenticity Is the Killer App

As a hands-on type rather than a theorist, I don't study many books by business gurus. There is, however, one title on my business bookshelf that deeply speaks to me. It's called LOVE IS THE KILLER APP: How to Win Business and Influence Friends (Crown Business, 2002). The author, Tim Sanders, defines "biz love" as the sharing of your knowledge, your networks and -- this is not a typo -- your compassion, in order to promote growth in others.

How is love good for business? In his book, Sanders talks about the importance of social contracts in a business setting (we none of us work in a vacuum, after all) and how these contracts -- empathetic relationships -- create value. When you create this value, you become one of those people (Sanders calls them "lovecats") to whom others turn as someone with great insights, generosity and as a source of good information.

Sanders says that we have a choice; to see others in terms of fear-based boundaries, or as partners. And for this partnership to flourish, personal authenticity is essential.

We have seen in recent years how the barracuda mentality has been the downfall of many a business. Greed, pyramid schemes, arrogant disregard for the law: clearly the old eat-or-be-eaten business paradigms are no longer working...especially since, in our information age, you can't hide the truth for long.

However, most of us are experts at hiding our own truth from ourselves, because we haven't known how not to. We experience stressful relationships with clients, coworkers, authority figures, subordinates, the competition and most especially our own fearful thoughts about work because we have not questioned the contents of our minds. We believe what we think.

What is at the core of your business's operational decisions? "Making money" would be the answer for most of us. That's the easy answer. What's behind that? "Must beat the competition." "Profits over people." "If we don't ________, we won't survive."

How does this translate to social contracts? "He'll get business we should have gotten." "She's not pulling her weight." "He doesn't know how to set priorities." "They're taking advantage of me." No love here; lots of stress though. And there's stress because these are stories: horror stories. Stories with no proof. Stories about a nonexistent future based on theories about "proof" from the past.

What's the "I" thought under these business decisions? "I need more money." "I need this job." "If this doesn't work out, I won't have _____, I'll lose ______, I'll have to _______." Can you really know that these thoughts are true? How do you live your life -- and run your business -- when you act our of fear rather than out of love?

Sanders does not address self-love in his book, and that's something a lot of us don't address. We innocently act out of the need for self-preservation, and this precludes the authenticity necessary for those good social contracts at work to flourish. For me, the most loving act I can do is to question my stressful thoughts, in life and in work. I notice I'm more "there" for people -- and saner about my business -- when I do. Authenticity begins at home. So does love. And then that love is free to express itself everywhere.

© 2006 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.

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Authenticity and "Biz Love"

Here are some common fears about being authentic in business...about being open, empathetic, boundariless...about embracing "biz love" in the workplace:

We'll be ridiculed.
We'll be taken advantage of.
We won't be respected.
We won't be "winners."
We'll "give away the store."
You can't run a business on trust.
Our kindness won't be reciprocated and that means...

What are your beliefs about "biz love?" What is the worst that could happen if you shared what you know...if you shared your contacts...if you allowed yourself to love your competitors? (Jealousy, it is said, is the conjoined twin of love.)

"There is war in the business world." Turned around: "There is war in my world." Where are you a barracuda in business? How has it served? What do you have now that you believe you would not have if you became a "lovecat?"

©2006 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.

For more about Carol and working with the process of The Work of Byron Katie, visit Clear Life Solutions.

1 comment:

suze said...

Thanks for writing this. I have just stumbled onto your site, as you do and I really like your comments about this book. This is a business model, if you like, that I firmly believe in and have practised with all my heart and soul for the last 15 years, without realising it was a school of thought. And now some amazing business alliances/partnerships are coming my way. And actually always have. I have always found it strange that people manage to divorce their beliefs, indeed personalities, from their work. That to do so is perceived as a strength. I run two very successful companies by being who I really am, to my staff, my clients (many blue chip companies) and my co-directors and I couldn't do it any other way. How could I spend 80-100 hours a week not being my authentic self?? i couldn't keep it up, that's for sure, which would translate as dishonest or dodgy, I feel. Instead I am casual, funny, irreverant, highly professional and all of those things can coincide effortlessly. Anyway, thanks for your post.