The Truth

Will set you free

THIS expression has been a popular saying among business gurus like the late Jim Rohn, and has its origins in scripture.

“The truth will set you free” has a nice ring to it and makes people feel good, but what does it really mean?

Here are three practices that follow directly from the pursuit of truth, and which underpin sustainable business.

1. Accepting things for what they are. A core requirement of good strategic thinking is the ability to accept the world as it is. Business failures inevitably result when executives cling to the past, holding on to an existing business model which may remain profitable (for a time) but which no longer solves the problem it set out to solve in the most valuable or cost effective way.

A contemporary example is Eastman Kodak, which pioneered the core technology used in today’s digital cameras in 1975, but failed to accept the new reality and ultimately filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2012.

2. Acting with integrity. In a world where most Economists and corporate executives believe (or have managed to convince themselves) that the purpose of business is to maximize profits, where do you draw a line in the sand? When is it possible to say enough is enough?

Acting with integrity means saying “no” to initiatives that produce short term profits in a way that causes lasting harm to employees, customers or members of the community.

Standing up for the truth is a sound and sustainable business practice and a contemporary example of where this didn’t happen is Enron.

Prior to its collapse Enron was one of the world’s largest energy companies but the pursuit of short term profits led executives Kenneth Lay, Jeff Skilling and others to embrace mark to market accounting, a dubious practice whereby anticipated future profits were booked on the day the deals were signed rather than when profits were actually earned.

These deceptions eventually led the company into bankruptcy and many of its executives were sued on criminal charges or committed suicide.

3. Seeing something, and saying something. Companies that fail to improve will ultimately fail to survive, and the first step in the improvement process is when employees see areas for improvement and speak out. If people are unwilling or unable to do this, then the performance of a company will suffer.

A contemporary example of where lack of communication crippled business performance was the terrible safety record of Korea Air from the 1970s to the late 1990s.

A cultural issue made it difficult for Korean co-pilots to tell the pilot about their mistakes and the resulting break down in communication led to the write off of 16 airplanes and the loss of over 700 human lives.

The truth will set you free is not just a pithy aphorism. The truth is a liberating force which can clear the way for continued growth and prosperity. A solid foundation on which to build sustainable business.

Tolerance

Independence of thought, acceptance of difference

“Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”
~ John F. Kennedy

“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.”
~ Dalai Lama

“Religion is like a pair of shoes … Find one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear your shoes.”
~ George Carlin

“Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life, you will have been all of these.”
~ Buddha

“Laws alone cannot secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be a spirit of tolerance in the entire population.”
~ Albert Einstein

“The highest result of education is tolerance”
~ Helen Keller

“Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too.”
~ Voltaire

“In order to have faith in his own path, he does not need to prove that someone else’s path is wrong.”
~ Paulo Coelho

“Good-humor makes all things tolerable.”
~ Henry Ward Beecher

“Bear with things as the earth bears with us: by yielding, by accepting, by nourishing.”
~ The I Ching

Acceptance

Making the most of right now

ANGER and hatred result from clinging to past experiences.

By refusing to accept things you cannot change, you lose your peace of mind, waste mental energy, and remain trapped by events which didn’t kill you yet leave you permanently diminished.

Better to let the bad stuff go.

Ambition and anxiety result from restlessly anticipating the future.

By racing ahead of yourself you can become unbalanced, envying the success of others, and making decisions that provide you with immediate signs of progress but which are not aligned with what comes naturally to you or what you really care about. This can exact a heavy toll over time.

By making the most of your situation and the opportunities which present themselves, you can avoid reliving past battles and work in a more positive spirit to lay a foundation upon which future success can be built.

You are here now, and many things are possible.

3 Steps for Greater Focus

Accept what you have, visualise what you want, and orient yourself in the right direction

DO you ever feel like ‘success’ eludes you? Like you should be achieving more? Like you’re not making progress with your studies, career, or business?

There are 3 steps you can use to achieve greater focus:

  1. Acceptance: understand where you are now. What are your skills, talents, tools, and resources?
  2. Vision: be crystal clear about what you want. Visualise the future and create a plan for getting there. Find people who have already achieved your goal, or who are further along the path to success. Your journey will be much easier if you can find people who are willing and able to help you navigate the path.
  3. Orientation: ensure you are making progress and heading in the right direction. Consider your lifestyle, friends, habits, and personal priorities. Orient your life so that it is aligned with your goals for the future.