Monday, November 17, 2008

Ask not what your company can do for you...

I was talking with a friend of mine from school today about, what else, the economy. We have big dreams - things to do, people to see, places to go. We were movin' on up....until our economy tanked. Now we're happy to just be employed. We talked about the morale in our respective offices. The morale of my team is going okay - his is not quite so good. I asked him how he felt about his future at the company and he gave me a wholly unexpected response. 

"In times like this, it's better to think of what I can do for the company rather than think about what the company can do for me," he said. "Who would you want to have around?: someone who's always looking out for #1 or someone who's looking out for everyone around him." Good point.

In times like this when there is a lot of panic and anxiety, it's only natural to think of ourselves and our own survival. As it turns out, the best way to survive is to look out for others, to connect with others, to support others in their pursuits. Think about it from another viewpoint - in tough times it would be easy for companies to just focus on their own survival. The truly innovative companies are finding their salvation in premium customer service - if they take care of customers now, when times are tough, those customers will remember them when the good times start to roll again. And they will roll again, no matter how bad it is now. Taking the long-view is critical to success years down the road. You've got to be willing to hang in there for the long haul. It's no accident that the first for letters of "career" spell "care." And that's what businesses need right - people who honestly, deeply care about the present and the future. 

It's like friendship, it's like love. Tom Stoppard said, "It's easy to love someone at their best. Love is loving someone at their worst." When we're down and out, we find out who really cares about us because those are the ones that stick around and help us pick up the pieces. It's true in relationships and it's true for businesses, too. Both need tending and nurturing, now more than ever.      

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