The violence, racial tensions, ugly political discord, and yes, even the pandemic of 2020 have all unceremoniously and relentlessly transitioned into 2021 totally unencumbered. In fact, with the horrific tragedy of January 6th, they appear to be picking up steam. The collective impact on businesses and our economy has been devastating. It’s been equally detrimental to our trust and confidence in our elected leaders. It has to stop!
There is a solution; it's called faith. No matter what your religion, your faith should be telling you to apply the principles of Grace, Giving, and Gratitude. Or, as I call it, the Law of G3. This little acronym may be the most important concept for running a business and restoring order and civility into our government and society.
If inculcated into our culture, if enough people practice it, G3 can have an exponential impact and be the most crucial concept for success in business, government, and life. Yes, they are faith-based principles, but in its simplest terms, isn’t faith a belief system you follow? It’s your belief in people and how you treat them, a belief in a higher power, a belief there are things greater than yourself or your business or your next election, or simply a belief in yourself, your abilities, and what you can do and to what standard. After all, no one starts a business without faith; likewise, no one runs for an elected office without faith; that would be akin to betting against success. And no one is truly successful in business or government without a greater understanding of faith. Let me explain how the concept can be applied.
Grace is the epitome of the golden rule. It’s the edict of reciprocity, a moral axiom. It's treating others the way we want to be treated, whether in the grocery store, office, board room, or legislative chamber. Grace allows us to be forgiving, to be kind, and to be respectful and courteous. Living and working with grace doesn't equate to only respecting those with whom you agree, or only being patient with the more valuable clients, or those on your side of the aisle. To live with grace as your moral compass, you must be respectful even as you face disrespect or hostility. Living and working with grace requires us to keep our word. It requires us to be honest, be on time, be humble, and do the harder right instead of, the easier wrong. Grace is not about justice or treating people the way you think they deserve to be treated; in many cases, it's about treating others better than they deserve. Grace is not effortless, but grace will pay dividends. It’s axiomatic! Think about how you felt the last time someone showed you unexpected and undeserved grace or kindness. Now extrapolate that to your business clients, customers, associates, and colleagues. Isn’t that how you want them to feel about you and your business or your political office? Isn’t a key to business success return customers and clients who will refer your business? Is a key to legislation the ability to negotiate a compromise with those of another position, but who respects and trusts you?
As we practice grace, we must also practice giving. There is a reason most successful companies have generous charitable giving programs. They know it's the right thing to do, but they also know that it is almost always given back in equal or greater proportions when they give. I know ostensibly, it seems counterintuitive. To say when one person (or company) is generous and yet grows more wealthy, but another withholds and becomes poorer is not initially logical or readily accepted in today's society. But in reality, it is another moral axiom that has been proven repeatedly in life and business. And the good news is adopting an attitude of giving is easy to cultivate in the business world and government. Start small by merely giving credit instead of taking it and refocusing your energy to meet others' needs, wants, and desires instead of your own. Develop a culture that better serves your clients, your employees, your company, and your constituents, not you. Give without expecting a return. Focus on giving, not receiving. Ultimate happiness and success come from service and giving. Selflessness, not selfishness, is the key to success. Of course, we should always strive to learn, grow, and become better (personally, professionally, and organizationally) but we must understand the importance of giving back to be successful. Businesses should have a social consciousness and understand there is a purpose beyond profit. Legislators should understand it is a distinct honor to serve and represent their constituents, but it is not about them. It’s about giving to those they represent. You will be amazed at the opportunities and successes that come back to you and your business or campaign if your attitude and culture are one of giving and service. Personally and professionally, we should all serve our community, our company or constituents, and our family, and be grateful for the opportunity to do so. After all, you cannot truly reap (achieve success) until you have sown.
Gratitude is the final "G" in G3. If you're reading this right now, you surely have a lot to be grateful for – you've had access to education that is a dream for many others around the world. Be grateful! Be grateful for all the gifts of your life, no matter where you are on your journey. Be thankful for your health, family, possessions, home, job, company, last election, community, and all the blessings we so easily take for granted. As we live in a culture that promotes "bigger, better, richer," spending some time to practice simple gratitude for our immense good fortune is something we could all stand to do more frequently. Besides, no one ever complains his or her way to the corner office.
It has been my personal and professional experience that business leaders and legislators who habitually practice the principles of G3 are more successful than those who don't. I have the privilege of meeting and talking with business and elected leaders all the time who prove this to be true. I love meeting them; they literally radiate confidence and humility at the same time. You can't help but like them and want to do business with them or vote for them.
There is a case for faith. Businesses are the largest conveners of human effort in our Nation, followed by our governmental institutions. Think of the possibilities! Living and working with faith as your moral compass, showing grace, giving, and gratitude in all areas of your life, will cause a chain reaction of success, healing, and reconciliation, in business and in government.
Bryan K. Stephens
President & CEO
Hampton Roads Chamber