Throughout my career, predominantly made up of marketing agencies, corporate communications, and consulting, the primary driver of ethics was always front and center. But over the years I’ve learned that simple ethics aren’t enough. Not enough for business. Not enough for me personally. Not enough for the world. We can do better.
I heard this said the other day after an injustice “It’s just business, Kelly… It’s just business.” Bullshit. Businesses running with that mindset are dinosaurs. Those days are long gone and if they aren’t evolving (quickly), they will be left behind. We are entering the democratic age and business now is shifting to the heart. Loyalty, productivity, talent attraction and retention, creativity and innovation, customer preference, community, and the bottom line. It’s the right thing to do on every level.
Many years ago I had the privilege of working with Fred Keller, Founder, and CEO of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Cascade Engineering. An amazing entrepreneur who has built his business based on purpose and heart, Keller lives by a simple checklist that supports his values:
- Do all the good you can
- By all the means you can
- In all the ways you can
- In all the places you can
- At all the times you can
- To all the people you can
- As long as ever you can
Pretty cool, huh? This has stuck with me over the years and I now see it coming out in my work.
I had always referred to myself as a “marketing guy.” But looking back, putting that label on me was so limiting. I was much more than a “marketing guy.” I was a systematic thinker, a creative individual, a dreamer, a connector, an efficiency, and a process expert. As people, we don’t fit nice and neatly into boxes, so why should I? That was the beginning of my journey.
A Journey to the Core
Fast forward to just over a year ago. With the need to differentiate my consulting business – get me out of a box – I put myself through a personal branding exercise. It took several months and was the most extensive exercise I had ever put myself through. But in the end, it wasn’t my consulting business that I was outlining, but my own core values.
Through this exercise, I am now happy to say that I can articulate exactly what my core values are:
Service – A sense of doing more for humanity and human rights
Compassion – A true sense of giving and helping others
Organization – Forethought and planning, systematic, efficient
Accomplishment – Driven and motivated to accomplishment and providing value
This is who I am. With these values, through my work, I help individuals, departments, and organizations Evolve, Connect, and Inspire. That is my value, my Self, my heart-centered approach.
So what does this all mean? It means that every action that I spend my time on supports these core values. From a marketing and branding perspective, it’s consistency and brand strengthening, from a personal approach. It feeds and nurtures who I am and from a client perspective, it’s passionate value.
As part of my values, I also hold my clients to this higher standard. In addition to donating 10% of my fees to one of my favorite non-profit organizations or one of my client’s choice, I have developed a set of criteria for clients. Here is an excerpt from http://babacita.com/doing-good/:
The following criteria have been put in place, and need to be met, for Babacita service acceptance:
- Mission/value statement includes mention of community/regional/global positive impact
- Dedication to community/regional/global service through time, resources, products, or services in excess dollar value of $2,500 (adjusted based on size of organization)
If you do not meet the above criteria, Babacita service acceptance will be issued upon verification of:
- A donation of $100 (individual), $500 (under 50 employees) or $1,000 (over 50 employees) must be made to (choice of above organization)
Ok… so now my consulting business was on track and I was off and running on exactly what I was meant to do.
SURPRISE!!! This wasn’t even close to being accurate.
You see… as part of this process of identifying my values, my heart was now opening up wider than it had ever been before. An awakening to a higher consciousness! I was seeing colors more vibrantly, my senses were heightened, my work was better, my creativity was off the charts. I was feeling deeper than ever before. I was evolving.
Speaking of my creativity, I self-published a book, Train to the Moon. Now this book isn’t about marketing or organizational efficiencies, but a love story of two souls connected in spirit. I think this shocked a lot of people, but this is just an example of the new level of creativity flowing effortlessly from me. It had always been there but had just been hidden away until my heart finally knocked my mind out of the way and took control. I have never felt such freedom, such power, and it’s all because of my heart-centered approach to everything. Work… life… everything now honors my Self.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the planets were aligning and things were just falling into my lap. I was meeting some amazing individuals and developing new relationships, new connections… all of which supported me and my values. I also became a PeaceWalker Project Conflict Management Certified Coach and was chosen to be one of ten consultants representing WorldBlu and the mission of workplace democracy, two opportunities that directly fell in line with the direction I envisioned myself and my business heading.
The PeaceWalker Project is based on Dr. Robert Humphrey’s Universal Life Value that all life is precious and to be respected and protected. PeaceWalker’s are confident, open-minded individuals who inspire. They live courageous, empowered lives of awe, curiosity, and wonder. They continually learn, practice, grow, and contribute, as they become the change that they want to see in the world around them. A defining quote on the PeaceWalker is from Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning:
Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: The last of human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
WorldBlu’s purpose is to elevate the human spirit through organizational democracy and freedom-centered leadership. This is based on the WorldBlu 10 Principles of Organizational Democracy:
- Purpose & Vision
- Dialogue & Listening
- Individual & Collective
- Fairness & Dignity
- Reflection & Evaluation
Both of those things directly support me and Evolve, Connect, Inspire. Through the value-supporting training of both, the PeaceWalker Project and WorldBlu certifications, I am continuing my evolution.
So, I know this is a lot of talk about me, but use my journey as a guide. My journey is one of absolute transparency, a new perspective on work and life, and one that everyone is capable of. This new level of consciousness resides in us all, and I challenge you to evolve and shift to a heart-centered approach. You will not regret it and ultimately, neither will everyone around you.
The main point I want to make is to first, be true to your Self and identify your values. Then do anything and everything you can to support and nurture them. That is where evolution really takes off. You will see a difference personally and professionally. This is honoring your Self and moving into higher consciousness. This is a good thing for all of us.
With me and this heart-centered feeling approach, I’m making a difference and I feel that I am just scratching the surface. I am discovering new things every day about my Self and this beautiful world in which we live. There is so much more in me. I am making this world better, and I’m just beginning.
I challenge you to open your heart, to evolve, and to honor who you truly are. You will be amazed at the results.
About the Author
John Kowalski is a strategic marketing professional of 20 years embarking on a life-changing career direction guided by values, purpose, and skill-set. With a heart-centered approach to work and life, John utilizes experience, process, and change disciplines to empower individual and organizational evolution, connection, and inspiration to enable clients to reach their true potential. To learn more, visit Babacita.com