Do business with others as you would have them do business with you.

As it is said — this is the whole of the Law; the rest is commentary.

‘Do unto others’ is the sum total of every inspiring word every written or spoken about sustainable business, social investing, local living economies, green jobs, social enterprise, and the rest of it (not to mention that it lies at the center of every faith).  The Golden Rule Across Cultures

Like most truths, it is simple to understand, but difficult to manifest.  Sustainability – like God and the Devil — are all in the details.  Business, like life, is an applied science.  Dov Seidman, the Bill Clinton-and Thomas Friedman-quoted CEO from LRN companies, says it’s all about How.  Indeed.

I was reminded of this truth while skimming through the cover article in the Atlantic on Happiness.  A 72 year longitudinal Harvard study exploring what makes for ‘a good life’ offered no more surprising or compelling conclusion that the most important thing in life is the quality of our relationships.  Nothing else – not money, not achievement, not recognition – came close to determining the quality of our lives.

This seems worth noting.  The ‘good business’ seems to be no different than the ‘good life’.  It’s goodness is nothing more or less than the sum total of the quality of its relationships.

We don’t often think about relationships in business.  We too often think about transactions.  About deals.  About tasks and to do lists.  Relationships are nurtured over time.  Transactions happen in a moment.

Good business thinks first about relationships.  The relationship between the business and the community in which it exists.  The relationship between owners, management, and staff.  The relationship with customers and suppliers.  The relationship between its actions and its impact on the environment.  Relationships are nurtured over time.  Transactions happen in a moment.

A business that thinks deeply about relationship is a business that is likely to do business with others as they would have other so with them.

As it is said – this is the whole of the Law; the rest is commentary.