Your Business, Heart and Soul

Not too long ago people didn’t talk about heart and soul in connection with business. It seems that when manufacturing shifted out of the home and into factories, compassion stayed home. I think, for example, of the culture of Massachusetts, USA. Business men kissed their wives and kids good-bye in the morning and went out to join the fray that was American business. They believed they could not be entirely ethical and succeed. They believed competition was a basic truth. Actually they were making it up, creating a competitive world with their belief in it. They believed in scarcity and fought scarcity and drew scarcity for the many and even for themselves.

The idea of keeping women and children at home did not apply to the lower classes. Businessmen believed others deserved the lot of laborers. This was an age before pensions. The common laborer worked until he died. Keeping in mind that Social Security and Public Assistance did not exist until 1935 (these came about because of the threat of revolt during The Great Depression), we get a picture of the grim world of the 1800s. I used to live near Lowell, Massachusetts. Sometimes I drove by the deserted brick buildings that had once been cotton mills. I thought of the women and children who had worked eighteen hour days and died of white lung disease from the cotton fibers that accumulated in their lungs, something that did not happen to weavers at home or in cooperatives.

So, if you are a mill owner, you know you are killing people and just to get through each day you have to believe these people don’t matter. Not an ethical place to be. They made compromises-and split the (upper class) family into two parts, the kind world of home and the unkind world of business. It was as if these men thought they could leave their souls at home in the care of the women and return at night to reclaim them.

This mind set lingered through the 1900s. In the 1980s M. Scott Peck offered workshops to businesses to help with communication and mutual respect among workers and bosses. As reported in his book A World Waiting to Be Born, Peck would only do the workshop if the bosses agreed to participate fully. Sometimes a president or vice president refused. Peck concluded that such a person “needed” power based on something other than mutual respect.

The world Peck envisioned is being born today with internet business models that keep the heart and soul. I listen to the Business Whisperer, Kendall Summerhawk, and Jeff Herring the article guy, to name just two out of many, and I know I’m listening to people whose heart and soul are fully integrated with their business. It’s about service and success, and we can all do it.