True success has little to do with material increase. Very often, we mistake an improvement in our material worth for success. When we describe the success of a company or person, we do so in terms of an increase in their financial profile. An increase in financial profile is only an indication of growth or progress but not necessarily success. Genuine success has a heart. It has an origin that is divine. It is values-driven. And those values are rooted in a core belief system that is deeper than the superficial. My definition of success is the internalization and progressive realization of a God-inspired dream. This therefore means that it is not everything that glitters that is gold. Any increase obtained at the expense of ethical conduct or at the cost of human life, no matter how much it glitters or gets results, cannot, by the parameters of this definition, qualify as genuine success.
There have been several laws touted as responsible for success. Many of them I agree with and actually teach. However, there is one law that trounces all of them simply because it underpins them all. Without it, scruples are sacrificed on the altar of convenience. Those who despise it embrace the Machiavellian proposition that the end justifies the means, or as Wole Soyinka put it in his classic, “Madmen and Specialists”, “the end justifies the meanness”. Achievement without it is hollow and leaves the taste of gravel in the mouth. The absence of it is what fuels the tyrant’s ego and flexes the sadist’s muscle. Those who ride roughshod over others for advantage have not experienced this law. Where this law is not in operation, people are used as tools and mere statistical stepping stones for pecuniary advantage. Couples without it are at best, strange bedfellows. When it is missing in a collective, everyone in that collective functions like a desperate rodent intent on winning an interminable rat-race where anyone can be thrown under the bus as long as it fuels the attainment of a personal ambition.
Conversely, the operation of this law in an enterprise or in inter-relationships ensures that everyone is fulfilled and inspired to bring their best to the table for the advancement of the collective without caring who gets credit. Personal foibles are perfunctorily overlooked and subsumed in the collective strength of the corporate. Strict ethical rules guide conduct and everyone sees why they are an integral part of a cohesive whole.
It is the Law of Love. Much has been written about the subject but mostly from the erotic dimension of the ‘boy meets girl’ imbroglio. Very few if any, have made the connection between love and true success in business and in life. To make that connection successfully, it is important to see love outside the selfish emotions of two people’s adrenaline on overdrive and situate it within the context of its divine essence.
It was another long day in the life of Jesus, a day characterized by another of series of protracted engagement by the Pharisees and Sadducees, the symbols of the religious order in his days. One of them walked up to Him to test His knowledge of the law of Moses by posing the question, “Master, please tell us the most important commandment!” To which Jesus promptly replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.” But He didn’t stop there. He pushed the frontiers further, “The second is like it. Love your neighbor in the same way you would love yourself”. According to Him, these two injunctions anchor the entire law and the prophets. Let us relate this to real life.
To truly have affection for anything, you must see it from the eyes of its maker. In other words, until you esteem that thing to the same degree of worth that the creator or manufacturer intrinsically packaged and intended it for, you cannot appreciate its value, talk less of loving it. What this means is that you cannot even love yourself until you love your Maker and see yourself as a package of value with an intrinsic worth that is relevant to the advancement of the human enterprise as He intended. A grasshopper mindset and a debased self-esteem can never truly appreciate, talk less of loving God. The love of God comes with a holy reverence that acknowledges His primacy in the affairs of mankind. In spite of humanity’s frenzied attempt to edge God out of the marketplace so that it can institutionalize mindless conduct in the toga of personal and business success formulae, we are because He is!
Our core values and standards of behavior come from this reverence. Our own honour proceeds from honouring Him. A strong belief in God helps us to truly appreciate who we are and the essence of our existence. The love that God intends for us to have for ourselves and which forms the basis of our love for others is not self-centredness. It is about a healthy self-esteem that enables us see the potentials we carry for good. It means we are confident in our capacity for excellence by virtue of the God-connection. Where others are bogged down by competition, love-driven people are concerned with distinction. Instead of being preoccupied with consumption of value, they busy themselves with creating value for others. They can accommodate others in their pursuit because they realize that just as they carry value, so do others. While some business hawks conduct business with the head, love-motivated people conduct their affairs with the heart. Compassion rules their heart and they venture to walk in the shoes of anyone they have business with. Instead of merely using others to serve their selfish ends, they actually serve others to the degree where others are willing to reward them intentionally and love doing so!
Have you noticed that organizations that run sustainable enterprises are those who place value above monetary returns? They value humans above machines and place relationships above profits. It is for this simple reason that they continue to remain in the market long after their competitors who took advantage of people have fizzled out. Those who do business primarily or purely for profit will end up abusing the very people through whom they want to generate the profit, either staff or customers! When their ‘victims’ find out, it is only a matter of time before they vote with their feet and seek or set up competition for the ‘Shylock’! In no time, they find out that, in the words of the late Reggae music maestro Bob Marley, “you can fool some of the people sometimes, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
On the other hand, those who actually care for the interests of the customer and go the extra length to serve the people compassionately consistently outstrip competition and make mega profits because they understand one thing that many entrepreneurs ignore.
Profits are in people, not in products! To attain significant success, solve problems compassionately for a significant number of people!
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!