Over the past few decades I’ve met thousands of business people, many who I’ve connected with and many I just didn’t. Many of the ones I didn’t connect with were not bad people, they weren’t mean or anything like that. So why didn’t we connect? Why did we seem like ships passing in the night? Some of it came down to their need to party. Back in my late 20’s I gave up alcohol and I stopped hanging out with people that enjoy getting really, really drunk. I found that I just didn’t feel good the next day when I got really drunk, as well as the fact that drinking was really expensive for me at that age 🙂 In the end, I’m really glad that I stopped drinking and I feel so much better for it. I do have some friends that really like to drink and get drunk, but there are not many.
On our 6 month global journey I spent significant time looking into what makes up a happy life. I learned so much about the difference between the pursuit of achievement and the pursuit of happiness. This ties directly into connecting with others. In the past few years I’ve started to analyze what it is about the people I connected with. I believe that it starts with values and it ends with values. In our businesses we tend to put our values aside in our pursuit of achievement. This pursuit of achievement is designed to produce greater financial return, not greater personal satisfaction and happiness.
I believe that our values and our beliefs are two different things. I admire people with shared values even when their beliefs are different than mine. This concept is perfectly exemplified by the relationship that I have with a good friend who’s deeply religious. His goal in life is to spread the gospel of Jesus and bring him into the lives of everyone he meets. He is dedicated to his religion and lives a life that integrates his religion into all aspects of his being. We’ve known each other for well over a decade, and a few years into our relationship I asked him what he was doing hanging out with a NY Jew? In the end, how could he be such good friends with someone who doesn’t believe in something so core to who he was? His simple answer was that our beliefs might be different, but our values, how we lived our lives, were totally aligned.
As we look at how this applies to our businesses, there are two main areas we need to pay attention to. The first is who we bring into our company as employees and team members. If their values don’t align with that of the organization there will be challenges, no matter how talented they are. Second, it shows up in our strategic alliances. Many of us will align our companies with other organizations that have a similar profile client but our values are different? We tend to take the easy path, the company that is right in front of us, rather than dig for another company that might be more closely aligned to our value system. This might sound like it’s a bit picky, which it is. In the end, waiting for that ideal strategic partner that shares our values could make such an amazing difference in the types of clients we work with and the quality of our partnership. We are typically not a very patient society, and waiting for the “right” fit is pushed to the side when we can fill the void with something or someone “good enough.” In the end, good enough is not how I want to build organizations. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Are you values aligned with your team members and strategic alliance partners? If so, has it made a tangible difference in your life?
To connecting the dots ….. one dot at a time!