– Merriam-Webster Dictionary
I used to get annoyed by Valentine’s Day. I considered it a cash grab perpetrated by the greeting card, floral, lingerie and confectionary industries to get American consumers to pay $18.6 billion (according to the National Retail Federation) in order to materially express our love for our partners. I saw it as a ritualized example of commercial hucksterism.
When I reflected on Valentine’s Day and the profit derived from the notion of love, it occurred to me that if businesses really “occupied” the notion of love in their corporate cultures, profits would flourish, leaders would be more fulfilled, and the ripple effect would transform the social and environmental crises facing the planet today.
The Business of Love
Why is there no love in corporations? Why is love all but stricken from the corporate lexicon? Because as business people we are mired in the distorted paradigm that we need to “compete” for “our fair share” – win/lose thinking, which is based on the assumption that there aren’t enough resources for everyone to live in material abundance. Scarcity is based on fear – fear that there won’t be enough. And fear and love, as opposing polarities, cannot co-exist.
Furthermore, love is misperceived as “soft” in a hard corporate world, when in actuality, to lead with an open heart – the source of love, trust, connection and empowerment – requires real courage, and is the only true source of power. This is a much more skillful way to live and lead.
Finally, the model of capitalism was built on the limited notion turned self-fulfilling prophecy that self-interest drives human behavior. From there, it has grown into a pathological pursuit for “more”, perpetuated by an epidemic of fear.
Therefore, love in business is a misconceived anomaly of strange bedfellows that rarely exist in tandem. But that is changing. We’re at the precipice of a social transformation in capitalism, and leaders that ignore this do so at their peril.
A Call For Courage
Imagine a courageous CEO, a conscious leader, prepared to operate from his heart as well as his head. A CEO who has asked the questions – Why are we here? What is our purpose and what is the purpose of business? What is driving my life – my ego, or an intelligent force field based on love? And what if I try on love as a corporate mantra – compassion and caring for all my stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, community, even my competition? Imagine a company with a higher sense of purpose, that is totally endearing to all its stakeholders. What would that look like in terms of profit, market value, joy, peace, fulfillment?
Heartshare Equals Loyal Marketshare
Idealistic? Perhaps. Perhaps not. That will depend on the extent to which leaders are prepared to awaken to a new paradigm grounded in truth – that we are all interconnected. Science is now aligned with ancient spiritual wisdom, with quantum physicists confirming that we are 99.9% space, sub-atomic particles vibrating at different levels with form arising from how we direct our consciousness. And we’re all made of the same stuff. And as human beings, whether we admit it or not, our greatest need is connection and relationship, the source of which is love. That source is the most powerful creator of enterprise value.
Customers want to be in love. The brands of Starbucks, Google, Whole Foods, Harley Davidson and Apple could be considered “Lovemarks”, rather than “Trademarks”. And if customers can’t find love, they’ll settle for the cheapest price. Employees want love – caring and connection – to each other and to a higher purpose.
R evol ution is an inside job. But until we move past our own indoctrination, we won’t know what re evol ution is. We’ve come a long way, and clearly the beginning is near.