We’re Not All Self-Absorbed, Misogynist Jerks!
I was an alien life form, an enigma. I was watched, questioned and viewed with a slight distrust. It wasn’t the difference in religious upbringing, or personality quirks that caused their worry. No, it was far worse. I was raised by businesspeople and had decided that I too, would become one. When they first met me as a young undergrad student, there was still hope. I was studying Human Communication, and it appeared I might become another member of the family working of the service others. My mother in-law was a nurse, father in-law a psychologist, sister in-law a social worker, brother in-law a physician and my wife an educator. How could they allow me to become a businessman, they are all such self-absorbed, driven, misogynist jerks. When I first started working in sales, I think they believed it would only be a waypoint, kind of like a summer job delivering pizza. Now, I stood before them all telling them that I had decided to go back to school to earn my M.B.A. So much for it being a phase. Nope, they would have to face the fact, they had a businessman in the family, oh the horror!
No, it was far worse. I was raised by businesspeople and had decided that I too, would become one.
However, I was adamant that I was not going to go over to the dark side. There had to be some way I could be both a good person in business and a successful businessperson. Even more so, I wanted to prove that I too, could work in the service of others. At that moment, I am unsure if I was aware that I was about to set off on a lifelong quest, but, looking back over these past 25 years, it is obvious that what I have been doing.
There had to be some way I could be both a good person in business and a successful businessperson.
Along the way, I have witnessed the actions of those whom I wanted to emulate and others whose actions I promised never to replicate. I found myself chasing the wrong definition of achievement and instead, finding the true meaning of success. I learned that you must work with a sense of purpose and possess a clear vision for the future. I understand that it is essential to have a set of core values that you do not bend and must not break. I see now that I am not a businessperson, but in truth a person in business, and as such, I have many other facets of my life that must be nurtured, fed and given room to grow.
I found myself chasing the wrong definition of achievement and instead, finding the true meaning of success.
Oddly, this quest has brought me back to the very start, Human Communication. Business is not about numbers, technology, innovation or even money. It is about people. Nothing is accomplished in the absence of others. Dig down past all the topsoil that we cover ourselves with disguised as needs and desires. You will find that we actually all want the same thing, to be heard, cared for, valued and respected. One of my core values is to make others feel just that way. I now know that doing so is not only good for my spirit, but it is also good for business and the two should always be aligned. Most importantly, I am being true to my earliest commitment, to work in the service of others.
Business is not about numbers, technology, innovation or even money. It is about people.
I know there are many others on this very same journey. I see and hear from you everyday. I have so much to share and even more to learn. How do you honor yourself and operate in this competitive world of business? Do you view yourself as a successful businessperson or a successful person in business? For me, it is that latter and happily, I think my in-laws feel the same.
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Elliot Begoun is the Principal of The Intertwine Group. His purpose is to grow businesses and business leaders. He helps organizations develop integrative leaders, inspire employee enlightenment, practice mindful marketing and build lasting relationships with their customers. Elliot works with businesses serving as a consultant, coach, speaker and facilitator.
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