Compassion makes businesses money
Updated: May 7, 2018
Michael was my mentor when it comes to compassion.
Michael's heart always went out to helping anyone who was in a tough spot.
As a roommate of Michael's, I observed how he would reach out to those in the community who were down on their luck and in pain. He would help to mend hearts even after his had been severely broken as a young man.
When I worked beside him and our friend Walter on the sandwich lines to serve the poor he would tell me,"Dave don't just serve sandwiches, go out and sit with the people, they need friendship. They need to be seen as people, much more than they need the food."
I remembered Michael's wisdom as I ran my businesses. My customers would often come in looking for a product but more often, they were searching for friendship and meaning.
Luckily for me, I hired great people who were always better than I was at being able to mend hearts while finding products to help heal bodies. This enabled our businesses to grow and thrive and give meaning to our employees.
But is there room for having compassion in business? Some people might even say that when I talk about Profiting Yourself Healthy, that I am focused on only the bottom line. It's true that I do often speak about profits because many business owners are struggling to build profitable businesses.
Without making money in the business (profits) we are unable to hire people, save for retirement, donate to the community and share with others. But the fact is that compassionate businesses are actually more profitable than those that are simply obsessed with the bottom line.
In the book Compassionate Capitalism written by Blaine Bartlett and David Metzer, the argument is made that businesses must have a purpose greater than just making money.
Business leaders who are not just focused on making profits, but are very concerned with adding value for their customers and who have a vision of making the world a better place are generally more successful than their counterparts.
In fact, in his book Firms of Endearment Raj Sisodia found that companies that are organized around values such as love, generosity and endearment, had significantly greater financial stock market returns than ordinary companies. From 1998 to 2013 when the S&P 500 index increased by 118 per cent and the Good to Great companies identified by Jim Collins increased in value by 283 per cent , Firms of Endearment who placed more worth in making a difference in the world increased in value by 1,681 per cent.
So, if compassion is good for business, how do we create a company that tries to make the world a better place? The truth of the matter is that it starts with you. Whether you are the owner of a business or just an employee, making a difference starts with simple acts.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta said it well when she said "Not all of us can do great things but we can all do small things with great love."
Creating a culture in our organizations where "we care" doesn't happen over night.
It happens when we start doing small things that show we want to make the world a better place "one person at a time."
In order to have a fantastic business that is compassionate, we need to start by identifying our core values. Once we are grounded in these values and have communicated what our business stands for, we need to ensure that everything we do, is rooted in these values.
This means that every person we hire, every supplier we deal with, and each customer we reach out to has similar values. Impossible you say? Well, think of it this way, when we try to do business, or have employees or suppliers that have values that are not aligned with ours, life becomes difficult. If, for example, some of our core values are compassion and honesty but our supplier or even our customers don't believe in this, how hard it is going to be for us and our team to work with them.
Developing a business that is compassionate might be good for the bottom line, but Michael never cared much about money, he cared about people.
When you start caring about people, your business will take care of itself.