Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Making more than money

Some think capitalism is a cold-hearted realm where business leaders ruthlessly use up and dispose of workers in pursuit of the almighty dollar. NBC’s show The Apprentice certainly fosters that image. But I don’t believe that is a fair image for most business leaders.

John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie are known not only for the incredible wealth they earned during the late 1800s but also for sharing their good fortune with countless others. Rockefeller turned his attention to promoting health, and his foundation funded the discovery of a cure for yellow fever. Mr. Carnegie became a proponent of education, and his influence is felt today in libraries and universities across America.
Philanthropy has also become the mantra of this generation. For instance, the Bill Gates family and Warren Buffett have joined forces to ask other billionaires to give half their money to charity. The effect they could have on issues such as children’s health is mindboggling!
But, what if you’re not the owner of a big company and don’t have a million bucks lying around? Is there a way to demonstrate compassion in the corporate world? Yes!
Start with civility. A common temptation is to listen to gossip, especially if it is about your competitor. Business guru Tom Peters encourages his employees and colleagues to be thoughtful and respectful toward “enemies” as well as friends.
Some companies allow employees to contribute the cash value of unused timeoff to charities or to coworkers who are suffering severe set-backs.
On a more typical scale, calling a friend who has experienced a life challenge or illness can be an uplifting experience. In fact, one of the most significant stories I have heard involved employees checking on a colleague who failed to show up for work. Their compassionate actions helped a woman and her child escape from a domestic abuse situation.
Wise individuals have learned over the years that the true standard of success involves more than making money. It requires personal sacrifice to serve the needs of others.
As the British author Lewis Carroll astutely observed, “One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others.”
Article by Shannon Warren
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