Integrity, Kindness, and Your Business

Can a business based on integrity and kindness be successful? Yes. Yes, it can. You don't have to bend your values to make your customers happy and ends meet. Those ends will meet much faster if you stay true to your values and do business with people who feel the same way. And kindness? There is truly an unlimited supply available, you can tap into it anytime.


The combination of staying true to your values and being kind? That's a bonafide superpower - and you can become a business superhero by choosing better over bitter, following your values regardless of the situation, and practising onedownmanship {totally a thing}. Let's talk about that.


better over bitter - it starts with you


"By the time you hit your 40s, you have to make a choice whether you want to be better or bitter." Those words come from my friend M., who has unequivocally chosen better. The woman is a certified badass. I was 43 when I first heard her say this, and it really hit home for me. Not that you can't choose better anytime you want, but it is a universal truth that women in their 40s are less willing to take crap and more willing to wholeheartedly embrace who they are; more importantly: they quit apologizing for it.


I had my moment of truth in 2013, when I quit my job and took my side hustle full time. I wanted better, and not just financially. I wanted to be able to do business in a better way, live my life in a better way, raise my kids in a better way, and I wanted a better relationship with my husband. 


Choosing better over bitter seems like a no-brainer, but once you raise your hand and say "yes, I want better", you need to decide what better looks like. And while you can certainly set goals to improve every aspect of your life and business, "better" goes below the surface. It has everything to do with your values, and following them. It has everything to do with consciously choosing positivity, and finding a way to spread it. It has everything to do with making that choice every single day, regardless of whether a client is difficult or the kids are arguing. {Plus, I am creating tools for better, not tools for bitter!}


keep the momentum going and follow your values


"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,..." ~ Charles Dickens.


"A Tale of Two Cities" was published in 1859, but those words might as well have been written last week - because some things don't change. At any given time it's the best and worst of times, the age of wisdom and of foolishness, the season of light and of darkness. Aren't we forever alternating between our best and worst selves? I know I am. And choosing better over bitter does not mean that won't happen anymore.


I used to think that choosing better means I would figure out what brings out the worst in me, and avoid those situations. I would also figure out what brings out the best in me and then search out those situations all the time. That would take care of it, right? Well, no. Always "best" is just as exhausting as always "worst". By avoiding certain situations, you deprive yourself of the full spectrum of emotions {and learning to deal with the full spectrum of emotions}. By seeking out certain situations, you put a lot of pressure on yourself and set yourself up for "I'm not good enough". Choosing better means dealing with each situation in a way that looks for the positive aspect and follows your values. 


Consider this: what if you don't concentrate on the quality of a situation - any given situation - but on the quality of your reaction to it? What if you react the same way to a bad or good situation, based on your core and business values? Because, really, your values don't change - so why not use them as a guide to deal with good and bad situations?


Here's an example: one of my core values is to communicate as clearly as possible. Why would I not do that in a good or bad situation? Well, I guess a reason not to communicate clearly in a bad situation would be that it could get very uncomfortable, or even have serious consequences. But. But, here's the thing: following my core and business values means I don't really have a choice, because those values are non-negotiable and always apply. And that makes it incredibly easy and hard at the same time. I might not like the consequences ~ but instinctively, I know what I have to do.


add an extra layer of kindness


In 2015, Oatmeal Crisp started an advertising campaign, asking men to "One Up Your Bowl". I literally rolled my eyes when I heard that for the first time {and every time since then}. According to an article I found about the campaign, "Oatmeal Crisp ... is targeting men by tapping into the age-old ritual of one-upmanship, described by the brand as “the lifeblood of being a man.” 


Apart from the fact that I don't think one-upmanship is gender-specific, I mainly rolled my eyes at the whole concept of it. Never mind that it fuels the fear of missing out and the need to constantly compete, I also think it’s just plain bad for business. {I don’t know how it worked out for Oatmeal Crisp, I think the concept is bad for your business, and for mine - because it has no room for kindness.}


So, instead of one-upping each other, let's try onedownmanship for a change! To be honest, I had to google it to make sure that onedownmanship is even a thing - and as it turns out, it is. This is what Urban Dictionary has to say about it:


(wun-doun'-man-ship') noun. The practice of outdoing an opponent in a negative way; performing less well than an inferior player or team.

“When the Pacers got blown out by the lowly Knicks -- at home no less -- it was a classic case of onedownmanship.”

#underachiever #nonperformer #failure #disappointment #ne'er-do-well


Ouch. Pretty negative. Nothing you would want to be associated with, eh? Disappointment. Failure. Nonperformer. Let’s do it anyway. Let’s embrace onedownmanship and practice that instead of one-upmanship for a change. Why? Because onedownmanship is a great kindness and mindfulness practise. Yup, really. Constantly competing for the sake of competition does not focus on what’s actually best for you and your business. You don’t call the shots anymore, you’re just trying to keep up. 


This works for your business and for your personal life. Make it a point to do something for the love of it, instead of trying to outperform everyone. Honour someone’s story, instead of pushing your own. Say "awesome, good for you!", instead of "I did it better than you". 


Of course there still has to be competition in the world; I'm a firm believer that it helps us innovate, excel, and get sh*t done. But I'm also a firm believer that there is a time and place for it. We don't have to be "on" and ready to one-up someone else at all times. Nothing wrong with setting a goal and wanting to excel - but how about basing it on what your business needs, instead of measuring it against someone else's achievements? 


The next time you feel that itch to one-up someone, do this instead:

  • Pause for a moment and acknowledge your feelings
  • Ask yourself why you feel that way
  • Find a way to take the situation down a notch
  • Figure out for yourself what you learned from it
  • Pause for a moment and acknowledge your feelings

The point is not to teach someone else a lesson and guilt them into onedownmanship. It’s about you learning how you react to situations that make you itch to one-up someone, and how you can stay focused on what is essential for you and your business and move forward from there. 


Choose better over bitter, follow your values, and add an extra layer of kindness with onedownmanship - that's how business can work with integrity and kindness.