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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Family Values vs. Business Values

Family Values vs. Business Values

Since most arguments result from a lack of definition of terms, let me define for you what I mean by "family values versus business values": Unconditional acceptance and equality are family values. Performance-based acceptance and chain-of-command are business values.

Build a business on family values and you'll have extremely happy employees right up until the day you go broke, (then you can all give each other a big hug in the parking lot as your creditors carry off your furniture.) Tomorrow, you'll go to work for some heartless bastard whose acceptance of you will be based purely on your performance. (And be sure to let me know how that "we're all equal here" speech goes over with your new boss.)

Conversely, introduce business values (performance-based acceptance) into a family and you're guaranteed to have hugely dysfunctional relationships. Just ask anyone whose mother or father 'loved them more' when they made A's on their report cards.

Another important values question is this: Do your commitments spring from your relationships, or do your relationships spring from your commitments? This may seem to be only a transposing of words, but it's actually a very important question. In the US, we build relationships first and then allow our commitments to spring from them. Depending on how much we like someone, we may or may not commit to them. While there's nothing exactly wrong with this, it does create some rather flimsy commitments. As the relationship fades, the commitment generally fades with it.

Three or four generations ago, in the days of the American pioneer, marriages weren't built on romance but on necessity and commitment. And there was very little divorce. But then our novels and screenplays began showing us how to go from flirtation to relationship to courtship to true love in just ninety minutes. "And they lived happily ever after?"

Professor Bharat Sharma of Nehru University speaks of India's "arranged" marriages built purely on commitment: "In America, marriage is based on an emotional tie to your spouse. In India it's viewed as much more that you are committed to the marriage, as an institution, and to the family." But do marriages built on commitment have to be loveless? Indians explain it this way; "On the day of the wedding, you in America take a cup of boiling water off the stove and let it cool for a lifetime. In India, we put a cup of cold water on the stove and let it heat for a lifetime." Yes, believe it or not, arranged marriages built purely on commitment are often very happy. Just ask your great grandmother.

Please understand that I'm not criticizing the romance of Western culture or standing in judgment of friends who have endured the ripping pain of divorce. (Yes, I understand that sometimes there is no option.) I'm merely suggesting that relationships built on commitment are stronger than commitments built on relationship. But maybe I'm wrong.

Either way, it's an interesting thought to let tumble in your mind.

Have a great week.

Roy H. Williams

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