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Heart-Hunting

“The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution that has to start with each one of us.” — Dorothy Day, civil-rights activist There I was, daydreaming at another business meeting. The company chairman had enjoyed my book and invited me to observe the discussion from a “making a life, making a living” perspective. The meeting gathered ten middle-aged men who planned to launch a new consulting company.

“The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution that has to start with each one of us.” — Dorothy Day, civil-rights activist

There I was, daydreaming at another business meeting. The company chairman had enjoyed my book and invited me to observe the discussion from a “making a life, making a living” perspective. The meeting gathered ten middle-aged men who planned to launch a new consulting company. Each man had started a dotcom company and was worth millions on paper, but after the NASDAQ fell from grace, they all needed to make a living again.

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The chairman asked the men to talk for a few minutes about their perspectives and hopes. Instead, each man delivered his résumé in bite-sized doses. After the first few downloads, I took a brief mental sabbatical. And my mind wandered to a speech given by Becky Jewett, president of Norm Thompson Outfitters, at a conference last November for Business for Social Responsibility.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” — Confucius

Jewett opened by describing a recent trip to China, where she checked on working conditions at her subcontracted factories. She arrived unannounced and saw many preteen girls buzzing away in high-quality work conditions. Jewett and her hosts smiled in mutual satisfaction.

At the end of the day, she asked to see the girls’ living quarters. Her hosts took her to a bare rooming house that measured 20 feet by 20 feet. It housed 12 girls. Jewett remained silent for some time, pondering what to say to her hosts. Finally, she excused herself for a few moments to collect her thoughts. She knew that her contracts covered only work conditions, but she could not ignore the personal feelings roused by the girls’ living conditions.

Jewett’s voice cracked as she described her revelation to us conference-goers. Nine years ago, she and her husband adopted a two-year-old girl from that town. If they had not adopted that girl, she would most likely be working in that factory and living in that rooming house.

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“One learns through the heart, not the eyes or the intellect.” — Mark Twain

Back in the consultants’ meeting, an hour had passed with little change, until the chairman’s wife was asked to speak.

The chairman’s wife said that she wasn’t sure why she was there. She had spent years in the world of dance, helping independent artists work together as a team. We nodded in understanding, so she continued with her résumé. She talked about her daughter who was born with cerebral palsy and her personal crusade to win rights for children with special needs in an era before legislation gave full educational rights to them. She worked to introduce legislation that ultimately helped her daughter. After all, what else could a mother do?

“Sorry that I went on for so long,” the wife said in closing. “I got carried away.” But her passion captivated us. I was ready to join her on her quest, her mission, her cause — that’s a business plan I’d buy into anytime, anywhere.

Martha’s Lesson #1: If you’re at your job for the money, you’re in the wrong place.

“Money doesn’t talk, it swears.” — Bob Dylan, musician

A few years ago, Jack Stack, president of Springfield Remanufacturing Co. and innovator of open-book management, said that he didn’t believe in giving new hires stock options or big salaries. That pronouncement was made during a time when top prospects often got both.

Stack’s argument was that big paychecks prohibit people from finding out whether they really love a company and its mission. Founders sweat it out for their convictions, so when times get tough later on, they know why they must fight through it. People who begin with the big money are more likely to leave in tough times.

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Martha’s Lesson #2: If the job doesn’t engage your heart, you’re in the wrong place.

“Success means living the life of the heart.” — Francis Ford Coppola, filmmaker

To many people, Vince Lombardi’s principle that “winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing” helped make Lombardi one of the United States’ most legendary athletic coaches. But few people have ever heard Lombardi’s quotation in its entirety. It is his testament to the power of the heart in business: “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. Mental toughness is humility, simplicity, Spartanism, and love. I don’t necessarily have to like my employees, but as a person, I must love them. Love is loyalty. Love is teamwork. Love respects the dignity of the individual. Heart power is the strength of your corporation.”

Martha’s Lesson #3: If your work doesn’t help you serve a greater cause, you’re in the wrong place.

“Many people have the wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” — Helen Keller

Leaders know that they must communicate a corporate vision and that they must inspire each employee’s contribution toward the vision in order to spur sustained success. Purpose earns commitment.

At times, even Mother Teresa was amazed by the commitment of her missionaries. Given the harsh conditions and hardships she worked in, she felt blessed that so many joined her charitable work. When asked whether people’s willingness to help was another of God’s miracles, she replied, “The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it. Unless your work is interwoven with love, it is useless. Our work is about our love for each and every one of us.”

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“To be successful, have your heart in your business and your business in your heart.” — Thomas Watson, former chair, IBM

To read more about building a strong foundation for your career, see Chapter One: “Make Happiness a Habit of Mark Albion’s New York Times best-selling book, Making a Life, Making a Living (2000), now also available in paperback, e-book, audio cassette, and audio download. Chapter excerpts and samples are available here.

Heart-Hunting® is a registered trademark of Mark Albion and You&Company®.

Copyright © 2001 Dr. Mark S. Albion. All rights reserved.

Read more columns by Mark Albion.

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