“To do more for the world than the world does for you – that is success.” – Henry Ford
As leaders, it sometimes feels like we’re being constantly bombarded with problems. This customer needs this, or is unhappy about that, and an employee has this problem, and something isn’t right with that vendor, and on and on. It can be exhausting, and it’s easy to get discouraged or even cynical.
With all that negative stuff coming at you, sometimes it’s hard to feel like giving. Just in the past few weeks I’ve heard several leaders say something to the effect that if they’ve got to deal with all this stuff, then gosh darn it they’re going to get paid (edited for family consumption). And I understand the feeling. And I don’t necessarily disagree.
But while we all deserve to be treated fairly, and we all should be fairly compensated for what we do, it’s important for leaders to remind themselves that being paid is not really the goal. Yes, our businesses have to be profitable, and yes, we all have bills to pay. But if the sole reason you do what you do is to make money, you’ll never feel good about what you’re doing. No amount of money will ever be enough. No amount of recognition will ever be enough.
As leaders, our goal needs to be to provide massive amounts of value to everyone we come in contact with. Whether we’re dealing with customers, or employees, or vendors, or family members, or people working behind the counter at our favorite fast food restaurant, our goal needs to be to provide that person with more value than they had ever imagined.
Sometimes that’s really difficult, and sometimes it’s pretty easy. Either way, though, that has to be the goal. That’s the only way we’ll ever feel really good about and fulfilled by what we’re doing.
No, I’m not suggesting we should never give any thought whatsoever to money (see paragraph above). I’m simply saying that the more you focus on providing as much value as you can, to everyone you can, the less you need extra money to feel successful, and the less you worry about whether somebody’s treating you fairly or not. And the reality is, as a leader of a business, if you provide vast amounts of value to vast numbers of people, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to starve.
Sometime later today, after you’re done reading this, you’re going to have a conversation or meeting with somebody. As you walk into that meeting or start that conversation, ask yourself what you could do for this person that they’d find incredibly valuable. Then get to work.