Lesson 2: Reorder your priorities (Contd.)
Your business is not about you. Your business does not exist to perpetuate its own existence – it exists to improve the welfare of someone else. You are in business to serve. To care for your customers in the same way you would like to be cared for – to seek their wellbeing and welfare. Your customers do not exist to make you great; you exist to make them great. Your priority should be the customer (if we can call them that at this stage).
Re-ordering your priorities in this light means that you have to move away from a profit-centered business model. The aim of your business is not profit – profit is ultimately a consequence of your business.Many people tend to struggle with this concept because we have generally accepted that profit is the true primary aim of a business (whatever else we may say to deflect this).
This then leads to a paradox – the way to make good and sustainable profit is NOT to have profit-making as your aim! We must be honest with ourselves here – retaining profit as a motivation but prioritizing customer service as the means to your profit is not the same thing as reorienting your mindset. Remember that our true motivations and reasoning will be tested and eventually leak out into everything we do. The better approach is this –genuinely seek to bring true delight to others and then watch the rewards come in.
When profit is the motivation, we may very well make some profit but then we limit ourselves in other ways, especially in creativity and innovation – which eventually limits our ability to make a profit. Invention and innovation involve exploration and discovery. Innovation requires fluidity of mind – the more fluid your thinking can be, the more innovative you can be. But a profit-centered mindset inhibits your fluidity.Ideas percolate up in your mind through a series of “gates”. The true state of your mind determines the parameters of these gates – allowing only ideas that fit into your defined parameters. Remember the parameters are determined by the true state of your mind, not what you say it is or what you want it to be! When you have a profit-centered mindset, you essentially block out a lot of ideas that are not obviously profit-making. And that is the problem – that part of your mental map that seems unattractive profit-wise, is exactly where your next breakthrough idea is hiding. This entire process typically happens long before the idea has crystallized in your consciousness. But even if one of these potentially great ideas makes its way to your conscious mind, you are unlikely to recognise its worth because your mindset is profit-oriented. This may be difficult for you to believe, but this is true.
As a thought experiment, consider the difference between a goat and a man. They are both living organisms- the human is a relatively higher order organism compared with the goat. They both require energy (profit) to survive and thrive but go about it in very different ways. The goat moves from place to place in search of food using precious energy that must at least be replaced, or it risks death. It therefore focuses on its own survival.Even though the goat is thinking and planning its movement, its thinking is limited because it focuses on energy (profit).
The human uses his brain differently. The main difference is that the human uses his brain primarily to explore and discover the truth about his environment and not to find food. The paradoxical result of this is that the human gets to acquire more food than he needs while developing the ability to shape his environment.
As we can see, the higher the order of the organism, the less it focuses onfood.In a similar way, the higher the order of the business, the less the focus on profit.
What kind of business are you running – a lower-order business or a higher-order business?
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Dr. Osinowo is a thinker and teacher: coaching high-potential leaders, advising organizations and originating breakthrough ideas. He is the founder of CANTAB Associates and the pioneer of SAPIENCE which is both a philosophy and methodology of thinking. He previously worked in the London office of the leading global strategy consulting firm Bain & Company. He studied Medicine at the University of Cambridge where he was a Cambridge Commonwealth Scholar. He can be reached for your questions and comments.