In the business context it’s a word and indeed a concept that’s a little taboo.
Makes me think of these awful team-building exercises I went on in my corporate years, where we were encouraged to say nice things about one another, and to have team hugs at the end. Even if we couldn’t stand each other and there was no way we’d be talking, never mind hugging, when we got back to the office.
Sad. But I think that talks to how many of us think of love if we think about it at all. We imagine it’s a warm and fuzzy feeling that emerges in relation to people who affect us in a particular way. Something indefinable, and around which we’re out of control. Hence something that sits a little awkwardly with the often more rational side of business.
But is that really how it is? And is there really any way you could use it as a force for good in your own set-up?
What is love?
Before we go on, let’s step back and ask that question: what IS love?
I get that we can all talk about loving what we do, or saying glibly how we love this or that person we work with. That all has its place. But that’s not the context I want to set for this conversation.
What I want to offer you is the possibility that love is not after all a gooey thing that just happens. Instead it’s an energy; an attitude; a force that we can choose ourselves to use and to direct at any time. A decision we can make. A force that enables some of the most profound healing and change. You may think that love has no role in business. But I just want through this post to have you pause and consider whether or not that’s true.
What might it look like?
Well, let’s break it down.
Love for ourselves
The first person we can choose to love in business is ourselves. As entrepreneurs, self-employed folk, or business leaders, we can often be incredibly tough on ourselves. We can set ourselves big goals – bigger than other mortals would think to set – and then when we don’t achieve them 100%, or in a particular way, we can beat up on ourselves, worse than our worst critic. Sometimes our negative thinking acts like a whip that keeps us chasing the results we seek. But often it just gets in our own way.
Taking an attitude of love towards ourselves turns this around. It allows us to keep setting our sights high if that’s congruent with who we are. But it also allows us to be more curious; more able to be with what is; less judging about when things don’t go so well. Which in turn allows us more headroom, creativity, thinking space.
In fact, if we want to be forces for good in our worlds, we need to start here, and with ourselves. We need to fill ourselves up first. Without it, we can’t convey love to others. Not real love.
Love for others
Loving others in business is really all about extending ourselves to them in a way that serves them well. That enables them to be their very best. Because we trust that the more they can happily be who they are, the better everything works.
If we choose to come from love to clients, for example, it might mean that we embolden ourselves such that we offer them exceptional services, or value-adding products.
If we come from love with colleagues we may choose to share with them our gratitude for who they are are as people and how they touch our lives.
It might also mean that we choose at times to say something or to give feedback on something that feels awkward or uncomfortable.
Conversations that name the elephant in the room can in some instances cause profound upset. But for the most part it gives the experience, at least in the long term, of being seen and understood and offers the opportunity for profound personal growth.
Which is a core aspect of the whole love energy thing.
The kind of love I’m talking about has no strings attached. When you choose to love yourself, or another you don’t put conditions on it. You don’t *need* the woman to whom you deliver delightful service to tell you how wonderful you are. You don’t *need* the man with whom you share emotive feedback to think your his savior.
You put your love out and you let it go. Either way it will teach you something.
Is love the future?
So much of business is, in my experience, impersonal and devoid of feeling. We can sit in meetings and have bland conversations using management buzzwords and ideas that mean little at all.
Leverage. Logic. Learning. These “L” words trip off the tongue.
Not so much.
And yet it’s where our humanity is. It’s what life’s about.
I’m not suggesting any need to become in any way alternative. I’m not even inferring that you have to like everyone you work with. Or that you have to use the word out loud or to adopt any weird behaviors. But you can take an attitude of love, an attitude of service, into everything you do.
Try it out. Let me know how it goes!