- Ayn Rand -
One of the key business decisions every one of us is facing with, is the decision to define, set and enforce our business values. Of course we need to set our business values, Liz, we know that already, it’s such a simple decision.
I was surprised to realize that not many business owners had clearly defined their business values, not many business owners think it’s even necessary to have business values, and to find out that many more believe business values have no impact on their business success or failure.
Even when I find businesses which have written business values, usually these values are buried in some HR manual or maybe on the kitchen board, they are not being practiced and lived by day to day. They are not part of the business yard sticks of success. How many of your employees can explain your business values? How many believe in them?
Writing business values is only the first step (more about it in a later post). The harder step is to live by these values day in and day out. It’s hard to make the tough business decisions by these values, it’s hard to hire employees that can embrace these values and be empowered by them and it’s hard to stay true to your business values.
Every time I am thinking about values, I remember a nightmare I had when I was a little girl. I used to love the Transformers, and of course I loved Optimus Prime the great leader of the Autobots and hated Megatron the evil leader of the Decepticons.
For those who do not remember the series, it is about giant robots who can transform into vehicles, planes and other objects. It tells the story of the fight on earth between the good robots, the Autobots, and their evil enemy, the Decepticons, after both fled from their planet.
In my dream I used to be an Autobot, I was a strong and tall Autobot. I walked proudly next to Optimus Prime with all my Autobot friends, waiting to hear his command “time to transform and roll out!”.
All of a sudden many Decepticons planes appeared in the sky. In my dream, all the Decepticons looked like this girl (whom I will not name in case she reads this post…) from my school which always wanted me to play together with her, and pretend I was someone else. She and her friends always wanted me to do things I hated, and act in a way which is wrong. She wanted to turn me to something which I didn’t want to be.
As the Decepticons got closer, all my Autobot friends were transforming to their vehicle form so they could outmaneuver the Decepticons. All of the Autobots transform except for one, me! I tried to transform, but I couldn’t.
I screamed “Transform, Liz, Transform!” but nothing happened. The Decepticons were getting closer, they were shouting “Liz pretend you are a Decepticon, it will be fun, you will be able to fly”. I kept on screaming in my sleep, “Transform, Liz, Transform! Please transform” my Autobot friends were driving away, the Decepticons were now very close, they wanted to change me to an evil Decepticon.
This was usually the part at which I woke up, crying, tears dropping on my cheeks. When my mom came I told her, “mommy I can’t transform, why can’t I transform?”. My mom, who is a very logical lady, tried to convince me to stop watching the show. When that approach failed, she told me one day I will be able to transform. She never really understood.
In a business life, you will have many “opportunities” to temporarily ignore your business values. You will have times when you really need money, and for that you will need to sell a product or service which conflicts with your business values. At these times, it will make financial sense to ignore your business’ guiding light, it will be easy to ignore what your business represents and what you represent to your clients. It will make sense to take the money, and to deliver the product or service just this time. I know, I have done it several times. I remember telling myself “it’s just this time Liz, after that I will go back to live by my business values”.
It’s easy to transform your business to something else. And yes sometimes there are no other alternatives, but most of the time you have a choice. It’s not an easy one. It’s up to you to decide not to transform. Every time you make this decision not to transform, it will make your business and its values stronger.
In the TV series the robots had two forms. Both of these forms were really the same robot and represented the same values. Transforming revealed another side of the robots, but an Autobot stayed good even when they transformed to vehicles, a Decepticon would remain evil even if they transformed to a plane. It’s different with your business values.
In business, your values define your business. If you ignore your business values, you transform your business to something else. You will take on a different form and follow different values. This transformation cannot be “erased”. It’s like an Autobot transforming just temporarily to be a Decepticon. Good cannot become evil just for a little bit and then transform to be good again, evil sticks.
As a little girl, I wanted to transform in order to outmaneuver my enemies, today, it’s different, every time I remain true to my values and decide not to ignore them when people try to convince me otherwise, it’s me who outmaneuver my competitors. By not transforming, it’s me and my business which become stronger! It is good not to transform, my vision and values grow, and sweetness wins!
And…to the unnamed girl from school, I hope you overcame your obsession to transform people, as Jacob Braude said once (and Charlie said many times) “Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others “.
This blog post is dedicated to my good friend Shachaf who inspires me to be a better Autobot every time we meet