Being an entrepreneur in the business of consulting engineering has always been an incredible journey for me. The freedom to choose a particular path, the creative energy devoted to developing a great team, the excitement of watching exceptional people rise to the occasion. These are the aspects of the business that have always held the highest appeal for me. However, there is a side to the business that is a slippery slope for me and I find myself disenchanted each time I encounter it, I call it the “hobnob façade”. We’ve all seen it and to be honest I have participated in it in the past, and each time I experienced a very unsatisfactory feeling afterward. So what is the hobnob façade? It goes something like this:
“So how is business going?” Says Dean Goldberry, CEO of Initech Corp.
“Fantastic, we are blazing new trails, can’t seem to count the money fast enough it’s pouring in so quickly.” Says Earl Lee Riser, President of Dunder Mifflin, Corp.
“We are too, this level of success was really inconceivable to me,” Dean adds enthusiastically.
Earl responds, “we should get together and see how we can join forces and conquer the world of paper and data.”
“Absolutely, I will get in touch with you in the next couple of weeks and we will formulate a plan to seal our deal,” Dean says.
“Well….(as Earl awkwardly fumbles with his phone) I need to get going my wife just text me and our dog desperately needs a flea bath I am the only one who can do it. Let’s get together over a grande sugar-free vanilla latte soon, I’ll call you.” Earl declares as he hastily power walks to the door.
This is a dramatization of real events, the names were changed to malign the guilty, no lattes were actually harmed in the making of this dialog.
All silliness aside, this is a very real, albeit heavily embellished, side of the business that is not consistent with my way of being in this world. I feel the most powerful, the most in sync in this world when I am being honest, kind, patient and brave. I also like to have fun, so I will go along with Ralph Waldo Emerson and add silly to that list. I try to measure my words and actions by those benchmarks. It’s so interesting as I have become more successful in the realization of my intent, life simplifies and my relationships have transformed. I find myself attracting like-minded souls. The hobnob façade, which used to repulse me, has become a practice of observation and presence. The presence to know I am up to something else, and the compassion to recognize others are on their own journey which has nothing to do with what I am up to. In other words I’m OK and they are OK.
I notice, particularly on social media, this overwhelming need by many to engage in the repulsion of others, I get it, I have done the same in business. I invite us all to consider a new thought, a new way of looking at it, and recognize what bothers you, be present to it and make your choices from there. These moments of repulsion are not an invitation to lay down and roll in that same mud puddle, they are an invitation to be present, to recognize where you are being pulled or repelled from and make a choice from that place. Always, always, always go back to intent and harmonize your thoughts AND your actions, your intention AND your words. Peace out.
“Great intentions become tragic actions when delivered without careful thought” ~ Michael Dooley The author of, Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams.
I have been very blessed along my path in life to have been given great examples of integrity and I have also had examples of hypocrisy. My brother, the Eagle Scout, has great integrity, my dad had great integrity, my father-in-law had great integrity, and my grandfather had great integrity. My father-in-law Maurice Lincoln Murphey was a very successful businessman, he was as consistent and steady a man as I have ever witnessed. He was brutally honest and demanded high standards of professional conduct from his employees and colleagues. I often think about what he would do when I am in business situations where I feel I am on shaky moral ground. I feel I need to admit here (staying in integrity) that I would have been fired by Maurice if I worked for him, I tend to be late a lot and I tend to be easily distracted. He was well-known for locking the doors at board meetings so those that did not show up on time would not make the meeting. He was also not in business in the era of cell phones but I am quite certain if he was around now he would make people check them at the door.
I have tried to stay on the high road, so to speak, in my business dealings. Meaning I have tried to conduct business while staying in integrity with high moral and ethical standards. In my humanness I have failed along the way, sometimes miserably. Each time I have let myself down I have learned from it, and as I have matured I have come to realize that integrity is so much more important that short-term gains.
Occasionally, I can spot individuals who through past actions have demonstrated a pattern of hypocrisy or a poor moral compass. When I encounter such individuals I wish them well but make the choice not to do business with them. Sometimes it has been a very difficult decision because it has meant losing potential revenue. However, while it is difficult at the time I have never regretted the decision later. Those individuals are very easy to spot because they are flagrant with their lack of integrity. I am currently dealing with a situation where someone I felt had high integrity has engaged in a series of actions that are, well to be honest, down right dirty. Ok so I take a step back and when I heard of the first act of duplicity I was disappointed but also had to be honest that I have fallen too, we are all human. Then I found out about several more instances of chicanery, so now this is not an isolated incident, a pattern is emerging. Damn, I really like this person I thought they were my friend, crap, so now what do I do? Well my first response was to go into my favorite martyr role, for goodness sake doesn’t she know what a shitty year I have had and yet she is doing this to me and my company. As always that accomplished nothing but made me feel worst, I just felt pitiful and ridiculous. In all honesty, I have to admit I am sad and extremely disappointed. I have been grieving a lot lately and my reaction to this situation follows the grieving process strangely enough. First I was in disbelief or denial; no she didn’t do this or she had no knowledge of this someone else did it, no unfortunately she did it, ok so then I was pissed, then depressed, what does that mean to our friendship, then sadness that something has changed significantly, my trust is gone. In the end I do have compassion. What I have learned about myself is that no matter how upset or angry I am at anyone I always have room for compassion.
I truly believe you reap you sow, therefore, I am choosing to bless this person and send them on their way. It is the journey they are on and for some reason they need to go through this to learn a particular lesson. It has also served to remind me why I am making the choices I am and why I need to continue on the path I am on. I am on my own journey and I have my own work to do. So I will leave others to do their work and I will do mine.
This is what I know to be true; when I am staying in alignment with good moral and ethical standards, I feel pretty good. When I make decisions that are not in alignment with high ethical standards I feel regret and well, basically, I feel pretty crappy. It may not always be easy but it is simple.