What’s it about?
Outside of the strategy analyses, the marketing plans, and the spreadsheets, there are pieces of a business that just aren’t taught in today’s business schools. Further, they aren’t fostered in many businesses, which most likely accounts for the lack of teaching them. Morris dives into four ancient Greek virtues – truth, beauty, unity, and goodness – that can provide real results in productivity and morale. He gives numerous examples of companies that have used these virtues. The book has some spiritual underpinnings, but if you look at the lessons from a broader worldview, or non-religious aspect, you will find they are valid regardless of your faith, or lack thereof. I don’t consider myself a religious or spiritual person by any definition of those words, and I found great value in the book.
He breaks down each of the verities into what they mean to us as humans, and then how that relates to what we do in business. Truth represents the intellectual dimension, and deals with the manipulation of the natural order of things in order to achieve a personal gain, as well as how truth affects partnership. Beauty represents the aesthetic dimension, and deals with creativity and how we view and experience life. Goodness represents the moral dimension, and deals with doing the right thing because it is right rather than because it avoids trouble, along with consequences of each path. Unity represents the spiritual dimension, and deals with our connectedness to each other, everyone’s unique contribution to the whole, and their need to be useful and understood.
Why should anyone read it?
Ignoring these attributes won’t necessarily get you in hot water with your business, but it’s likely you aren’t going to make it to the top spot, perhaps not even the above-average realm, without them. Whether you have a BBA, MBA, vast experience in business, or none of the above, these virtues don’t come around on their own. So long as an organization is made up of more than one person, you will come face-to-face with decisions (probably daily) that deal with these four areas. Examining them more in depth, whether through this book or otherwise, you give yourself a mental measuring stick to hold yourself to and live by.
I firmly believe that if you show me how you do one thing, I can show you how you do everything. What this book does is ask you to put a mirror to what you do in your personal life to show you how you run your business life. It shows you that they are, in fact, not separate, as you might’ve previously thought, but rather connected like chains that hold your life together. And you know how the saying goes about the weakest link in a chain.
“If you’ve drained the tank of human goodwill and motivation, you can continue to coast downhill for a while, even at a pretty rapid clip, but heaven help you if you encounter any big bumps in the road or the competition forces you into an uphill struggle.”
“Trust is like a lubricant for human relations. Without it, the mechanisms of interaction are damaged and grind to a stop.”
“You don’t have to shoot off fireworks. You don’t have to hire a famous artist to repaint your manufacturing facility. A few baskets of fruit might do the trick. Or some beautiful plants, occasional flowers, or colorful balloons. Even fake palm trees have been known to help.”
“I once heard a man sum [ethics and morality] up like this: ‘Hey, I wear one hat at the office and another hat at home.’ My response was ‘Yes, but you wear them both on the same head.'”
“But money, rank, and external accomplishment are not enough to satisfy. It is the internal orientation of the heart that makes all the difference in the world. What are we doing? And how do we do it?”
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