Is it possible to maintain one’s integrity and make money?
You could argue that the highest form of your integrity is staying true to yourself: your values, your beliefs, etc. In this day and age of ‘distractive attention-based marketing’, can one really stay true to yourself and your values, whilst making business occur?
The answer I say is not only a ‘yes’, but a resounding ‘Yes!’ with some qualifications.
Not only must you do stay true to yourself from a moralistic point of view, but also from economic necessity:
1. Staying True to Yourself: All gears going in the same direction.
Someone asked Warren Buffett once how he became so successful.
Without blinking, he answered back and I paraphrase here: “Unlike most people, I have all my gears going in the same direction”.
He has principles and rules that he follows in his business (refer to his biography The Snowball – Warren Buffett and the Business of Life).
If you are troubled by conflicts between your values and how you think you should run your business, then it is the conflict that needs to be resolved – not your values or your business that needs to change.
Is this resolution tricky? Yes, it can be.
No app or crowdsourced solution is necessarily going to help you – consistent dialogue over time with smart experiments in marketing is where the answer typically lies.
This consistent dialogue takes a little discipline – it is not for everyone except the most ambitious.
This level of ambition and willingness to go through the short-term struggle and suffering for the solution is the investment you may need to make.
2. Staying True to Yourself: embracing complexity and creating your best future
Most people who struggle in this conflict between their values and making money have not created their ‘destination’ i.e. the end result desired. Another way of putting it, they have not defined their success goal or vision.
- What will it look like if you resolved this conflict?
- What would you like it to look like?
- Is it worth the time and energy to get it resolved so you can create the ambition required to move past the conflict?
Like I share with all my clients, the start choice in front of you is always:
- Long Term Suffering with Short Spurts of Joy/Relief versus
- Short Term Suffering with Long Term Joy.
This process is not straight forward as most of life’s most important decisions are.
But ignoring this choice is the worst risk long term. In the long term, your internal conflicts are worth resolving.
3. Staying True to Yourself: ot having to work so hard
The highest form of marketing is where you tap into people’s moral authority.
If you understand what other people feel and believe to be true, then you have simultaneously three factors to consider
- The responsibility of choosing between manipulating people for your own ends vs. what serves them.
- Exercising this power and influence in a way that makes money and serves you as well as them.
- Building the skill to do what is called in brain science “Theory of Mind” – the ability to feel, think and know what other people are feeling, thinking and knowing.
- Sure people respond to pain points, building trust, building rapport, etc.
But the right people will tap into and work with you if you indicate an understanding and appreciation of what their higher levels of integrity and morality dictate.
This is when your business becomes fun and you do not have to sell yourself and your values in order to sell what you provide.
As I grew wiser in business, one of the things I still learn to embrace is complexity.
To be willing to embrace it and not run from it – to enjoy, yes enjoy the process as I go along.
I do not pretend to be a perfect Business Buddha but I must say the process has paid off huge dividends in freedom, peace of mind, and passion for people, profits, and making a difference.
Since 1991, I’ve been reflecting on, designing, and implementing methodologies and systems for bringing a transcendent, creative and innovative approach to critical aspects of entrepreneurship.