Wow! Are we messed up!!!
Each new day dramatically reminds us that we’re spinning out of control in our personal lives, our business ventures and our politics. Now, don’t misunderstand. This is not necessarily something new. I am not yet certain that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. There could be a light at the end of this tunnel, but, at the moment ,it looks like we’re moving further and further away from it.
Part of the problem we’re dealing with today is too much information — of the wrong kind. The problem is, so much of that information is unbalanced and unfocused. It’s information that focuses on the negative. it’s information that continues to deny the value of human life. It’s information that tells us individuals are nothing unless they’re celebrities — and in the case of celebrities anything goes!
How many companies, for example, truly function on the premise that they exist to serve their clients? If you pay close attention, you soon discover that too many actually believe that their clients and customers exist solely for the purpose of keeping the business financially profitable. How many bother to find out what their customers really want – and then do whatever it takes to make sure they deliver that to the best of their ability?
It would take several books to fully explore business and political practices in today’s world adequately. But let’s look at online marketing, just for starters. For fun, go to any six company websites and see how easy it is to find a contact name, email and phone number that work. Can you easily reach someone in the company who has authority beyond just a help desk order taker? If you did find this information, how much searching did you have to do to get it? OK? Now, look at just a half dozen of those emails that are force-fed to you every day. You get lots of offers to buy, don’t you? Do any of those emails offer a phone number and an email that actually will connect to the sender? Have you tried to reach the person who sent those offers to you lately? If you respond to the email, how many times, does your effort return a "not deliverable" error? If you’re lucky, and it doesn’t get lost in cyberspace, how many of your emails get answered by a real person?
Visibility and accountability are critical to conducting business at all levels of society.
It’s just as true in politics. We’re given so much information on the political front that it would take three lives to assimilate it. But it doesn’t take anywhere near that long to find countless examples of mixed messages, inaccuracies and outright lies, if you’re looking to verify facts. And, again, how the heck do you get the attention of the people who are behind all that information – if you ask questions, how many times do you get straight answers vs directing you elsewhere in the food chain?
OK, so these are out of our control, right? True. But what about our personal dealings? How many times do we treat each other as we wish to be treated? How many times do we blow off someone that we’ve made an appointment with just because "I didn’t feel like following through" or "Something more interesting came up"? How many times do we make promises that we never plan to deliver on? How many times do we take the time to talk WITH rather than AT other people? Heck, here’s a challenge….when you’ve met people, can you even recall after they’re gone, what color their eyes were? Can you recall their names? How many questions did you ask them about their interests or concerns….Or, were you too involved with your own agenda? Were you so concerned with impressing them with your own importance that you didn’t even bother to find out what was on their mind?
In all we do, people are really where it’s at. People have feelings and needs. All else serves the people. People are what keep corporations, governments and groups in existence….not the other way around. Power comes and goes. But people are constant. Money flows in and out…people live and die but they are constant. And, people are ultimately the ones who control the resources that money represents. Statistics / numbers can be controlled and manipulated. In the short term, individuals can be manipulated to react to their environment a certain way. But in the long run, those same individuals have the power to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. There may be a short-term benefit to using marketing and psychological hot buttons to control individuals but in the end, the people will be there after the effect of those tactics are long gone. When those same individuals are emotionally, financially and physically tapped out…there is nothing left to feed the corporations and governments. Individuals will, predictably, seek – and find – honesty and fair dealings.
If the market is down today, there are many factors that caused the downturn. But, any analysis needs to look closely at the people. When they’re tired of deceit, manipulation, wars, threats of terrorism, and phony talk of how much the powers that be (corporate and political alike) care about their well-being…when they finally reach their limits, they will react in like kind. That’s the nature of human beings.
The best way to counter the ills in our lives, our business and our politics is to – finally – get down to honest two-way communication…the kind of transparent communication that shares truthful information, talks honestly, listens carefully and leads to meaningful follow-through actions that address the interests of ALL participants.
That being said, there are stunning examples of business people and politicians who understand these concepts. And there are people who genuinely respect the dignity of every human being they encounter. These, are the heroes of the 21st Century.