I arrived at the networking meeting and was greeted by the facilitator of the group to be told (well reminded) I “wasn’t having a good month”. The meeting commenced with the usual roundtable discussion on how fabulous our businesses were doing. But I had already decided to wear my heart on my sleeve and when it was my turn I said, without apologies, I didn’t have any greatness to declare, I had had a terrible month of personal issues and it was everything to keep my head above water and not disappoint my clients.
The group was split in two, those who welcomed my honesty and attendance, and those who didn’t utter a word, seemingly unable to grasp the concept that I had allowed emotions to affect my business’ success for the month.
I started my business 12 months ago with sincere altruistic motives: I wanted to make a difference and affect people’s lives positively. Oh, and also help with business’ marketing, but with honesty and integrity.
I am a very heart-on-sleeve kinda gal. Some people admire it and some people get annoyed. I guess, on reflection, I can ruffle feathers by not sticking with the status quo.
My experience of business throughout my career is that those with a heart seem to get lost in the system. Unrewarded. And it seems those who start with a heart start to put walls up to play the business-game with their peers and colleagues. Work is work is work, and you need to put your head down, not be affected by others’ behaviours – whether ethical or not – and get on with, well, work!
Now, I’m not saying ‘heart’ is always perfect for business. Would an employee like me annoy me at times – you bet! But it is also these annoyances that make that employee someone who is honest, you can trust, who will keep harmony more than ruffle feathers, will go the extra mile with customers and is likely to care about your business and its success.
And what many businesspeople miss is that an employee who cares for your business will ‘work-their-heart-off’ during designated business hours and beyond. They are likely to become so connected with you and your business that they will do more than just their role, they will want your business to succeed and run with kumbaya harmony.
Surely these are some good qualities to have in a business. So why do businesses and leaders not understand these qualities?
That I can’t answer, except that my experience is that it’s very confronting for many. And I find this in my everyday life too. But those who take the time to understand the whole me know that the qualities that can make me “emotional” are the same qualities that make me loyal, trustworthy and generous.
I left the network meeting quite disillusioned. But that’s also my life, sometimes. However, I was undeterred and will continue to run my business with heart. I’m sorry but, no, I don’t want my business to run on autopilot or to make a million dollars, I want to actually get up and enjoy my days and the people I interact with.
Will my values annoy some prospects? I completely understand that answer is a clear “yes”. But there are enough other marketing consultants they can employ who will prescribe to “work is work is work”. The prospects that resonate with me will be those who want something a little bit different than just a consultant, the “care factor”, and I already love the changes in my working days as a consequence of these new networks and customers who respect the person I am, heart and all.
Article first appeared in Kirsty Dunphey‘s “Advance to Go” Newsletter, 28 September 2012