In between what has seemed like nonstop client crises and dealing with some serious things in my personal life, I’ve been reminded frequently over the past several weeks that simply doing the right thing is highly underrated.
It sounds simple, right? Just do the right thing. But in the business world and even in our personal lives, it’s very easy to let selfishness, profits or that next big promotion, drive our actions rather than focusing on what is right. Some might argue that “right” and “wrong” have different meanings to different people, but I would say that’s just a way of complicating a very simple concept.
Does the “right thing” mean waiting for regulators in your industry to implement new standards, and then complying fully with the new regulations? Or is it taking a look at your business, proactively, and setting your own standards despite what your competitors are doing or how it might affect your bottom line?
If one of your employees is going through a tough stretch personally, is it enough to provide personal days, as outlined in your employee handbook, so he/she can sort things out? Or do you pull the employee aside and really ask him/her “what can I do for you and how can we help you get through this?”
Real life examples of this concept are outlined extremely well in a book that I started re-reading this week. Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman is the business biography of Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia. It’s a compelling story of how the outdoor clothing/gear business was built, almost by accident, and how the closest thing he had to a business plan for decades was this: Patagonia and its employees have the means and the will to prove to the rest of the business world that doing the right thing makes for good and profitable business. It’s a great read for business owners, managers or anyone who might need a little perspective on how doing the right thing doesn’t have to be difficult.
Call it karma, the Golden Rule or simply doing good… whatever it is, we could all benefit from taking a step back a little more frequently and asking ourselves “what is the right thing to do?”