Hullo again! It’s Monday – the Eve of Christmas Eve and the happiest time of year for many. Today’s blog is a follow-up to Friday’s piece on Integrity in Business. I feel I need to write this based on a mental review of some of the stories I would have come to know over the years. I feel it’s needed at this time since the world’s economy is shifting and more emphasis is being placed on family life and a more fulfilling and economically practical balance of work and play.
The truth is, a newbie to entrepreneurship may not be able to spot all the warning signs right away in order to adapt and assimilate into this way of life. I think the main reason is the euphoria living your dream (at long last) brings and the response you get from your work without the backing of a bigger (well-known) brand.
The personal adjustments to your day-to-day life and your mental conditioning can be grossly underestimated going in – depending on what type of business you choose, how much practical work experience and training your have in all related areas, your people skills, humility (and ability to adjust your personality & perspective), the type of ‘support’ you may have at your disposal when it’s needed the most and your expectations as it pertains to the money you need or want to exist or function in your day-to-day life.
I’ll use this example. Let’s say someone writes a book – whether it is a book of poetry, prose, (a how-to) non-fiction, fiction or a collection of art (or articles) or recipes – initially as a hobby or a side passion to their mainstay bread and butter income. Basically they did it because they wanted to find a platform or outlet to share their passion for self-expression that was pouring out of their mind and heart.
Many writers write almost effortlessly on auto-pilot (if you may), because it is a natural gift they were born with (or into) and developed over the years. Much like many others who possess a natural flair for other totally unrelated pastimes like decorating, gardening, woodworking or the more technical mechanics of repairing and maintenance – what is now very vital to living a comfortable life in today’s modern world.
Let’s just say this writer writes a book (or song) in 1987 [hereafter referred to as the artist] just as an outlet to get it out of their head. They perform it at home or a local pub for their close circle – who then shares it with their close circles and before you know it, this book or song is a hit!
Without expectation or indication of how big this book (or song) would become one day, voila! Just like that this person is a hit because of their PASSION, courage or encouragement from their inner circle who they felt comfortable enough to share their gift with. The well-received feedback was an added bonus because they were already familiar with who the author was, their backstory and the journey to get to that point.
All the attention this performance is receiving, word is spreading fast and this is the first time something like this is happening to the artist who did this just as an experimental hobby. Depending on their circumstances in life, the artist may have held a full-time job or perhaps could have afforded to do their passion full-time and still live a decent enough life prior to stardom.
The publicity now puts this person in a totally different realm. Calls are coming in (more than usual) – maybe even fan-mail – in those days it would have been snail mail or hand written notes. Huge huge deal – especially for someone from a small town.
Guess what happens next? If the person had a full-time job and considerable work experience they can now most likely quit and focus on this to make it even greater with a wider reach. If not, they can now live off their passion without family assistance etc, but because of the lack of extensive work experience and interaction with diverse groups of people, it would be a tad more difficult adapting to this newfound fame and attention this ONE performance has spurred on.
The lack of diverse work experiences would inevitably make it way more difficult filtering the people who genuinely love the performance from those who are just out to get whatever they can (what is referred to as starstruck groupies) because this person is suddenly now so popular, affluent, opulent, beautiful or a sex symbol in the world’s eyes. Depending on the age, gender and background of the person, it would be very easy to get caught up in the fame, excitement and glamour of it all – especially if they really love what they do and they never had this kind of attention come their way prior to this.
If the artist does not have a genuine team of people that share a similar (professional and personal) history and ethos who can do an impartial job of protecting the interests of the rising star, this can compound the situation further.
It is doubtful that the first taste of fame would afford somebody a trained team of publicists and even so, jealousy and self-interest is a natural flaw to the human condition. Especially to people in a similar field or with similar interests who haven’t been that successful or possess the courage, determination, experience and emotional grit to make their passion come to fruition in quite that way with those results.
I’m sure most people can now finish this story with this hypothetical example. Even if the original intentions of the person were once of goodness and purity to spread a positive message, we can never know what is really inside someone’s heart of hearts. It simply isn’t possible to know what factors and influences they would have been subjected to from birth to present day to affect their behaviour in day-to-day life and overcome challenges encountered in their career, industry, family life, neighbourhood or country.
All I would say based on my interactions and exposure to different subject matters in the workplace, at school and multi-media; unexpected attention and fame can knock even the most humble person to their feet. Especially when you realize half of it wasn’t truly genuine. Or it wasn’t consistently received from a diverse enough objective and diplomatic audience who weren’t biased or obligated to appease.
It’s a kind practice for familiar people who care about you and have known you a long time to want to choose their words wisely and not discourage you from your dream – given there’s potential and room for growth. In the beginning however, regardless of their personal feelings they’ll want to make you feel good, especially if you suddenly make this huge public step where professions like these are not common in a small pond.
One way to spot if your inner circle will like to see you succeed in a huge way is if they continuously purchase books/tickets, refer others or point you to paying or learning opportunities. Also if you get a bigger break to expand and they are genuinely encouraging, supportive and resist the inclination to out-compete you, leak your plans before it builds momentum, or thwart your efforts in subtle and not so subtle ways.
When you are doing a job for no other reason but for the sheer love and peace it brings to your heart and soul it’s indescribable. Time actually stands still in your world when you are not under the clock or any other material obligation. Again in the real world; it’s good to have a mainstay income if you have obligations, debts, a spouse, kids or a lavish lifestyle you feel the need to maintain while you work on your passion.
If you have a full-time job – which I had for several years, I still stayed up till 2 am to blog on many days knowing I had to be up and addy in a few hours to be out the door before the traffic began. For me, it wasn’t because I had insomnia or a lack of friends in those days because I still found time to go to the gym, movies, church, parties and networking events. I stayed glued to my computer because my first love was writing.
I wanted to get better at my craft so I looked at videos and read the blogs and work of people who I considered uber creative and funny and were doing this type of work with great financial success. Not withstanding the many painful personal and professional challenges, heartbreaks and losses even operating in a way larger pond with all the odds seemingly in their favour. Call it research, admiration or just love for my craft, I am still recovering from the shock of it blossoming drastically from those early days when I had a private blog with a password and was reluctant to share with even those close to me.
All this to say integrity in business can be influenced or tainted by a number of factors that are sometimes out of our control, but your inner compass and background will guide you to do what comes naturally. For example, you can get into a cooking business even if cooking is not your forte, but your main business goal is to be lucrative and you are in the position to outsource who and what is needed to make it a reality with your passion and charisma (leadership and people skills) keeping you afloat and current.
Your impetus for being in business could be as a result of someone in your family, a teacher or an acquaintance having inspired you in a powerful way. And so your mission is to influence, heal or help others. You in turn, can now influence your staff to grow and become a role model to others and eventually make the kind of money to purchase the right machinery, tools and training to reap the best results.
I think it’s an obligation to the people you work with or the spaces you occupy to not make others feel like underlings or as though you are doing them a favour in exchange for their good work and loyalty.
Integrity in business is having respect for all stakeholders – staff, management, customers and investors to allow everyone enough leeway and comfort to do their job that will bring the best results.
In this life everybody wasn’t meant to understand you or be your chum or worker for life. That’s a fact of life everybody eventually learns in different ways. If you don’t, you’ll continue to suffer in various ways – financially, emotionally, exhaustion from overworking or expecting things to be a particular way all the time.
Hope this blog helps in whatever way as I wished someone had said this to me when I just begun. Writing, books and art are a totally different ball game from business consulting or selling consumable products that most people are familiar with and have the propensity to make oodles of cash once you have made this a lifestyle of choice.
Cheers until Christmas!