Standing Up and Standing Alone

I had a long conversation with my 9 year old daughter last weekend about how doing the right thing is often really difficult. About what being empathetic really means, about understanding why a friend might be teasing or ignoring you. About what they really might be feeling that’s causing their behavior.

We talked about how making the choice to be kind doesn’t always mean that your friends will reciprocate. Kids can be mean, and aren’t always open to compassion.

But she held strong that day. I watched her ignore the obvious insults and childish jabs, and extend an olive branch again and again to a friend being particularly mean.

I was (and am) so proud of her.

Sometimes, sticking to your values means you’ll be standing alone, and that’s very difficult.

You’re going to see other companies, your competitors, taking the quick win. You’ll see them cheating to get ahead, with their customers none the wiser.  If you’re a, “That’s just business!” type of person, go right ahead and play that game.

That’s not who we are, and that’s not the clients with whom we choose to work.

One of our core values is “Think long term.”

The obvious interpretation of that is to always be thinking ahead; seeing what’s coming next. And we do that. We work really hard to do that.

But the more subtle and intended meaning of thinking long term is about playing the long game. It’s about perseverance and sustainability. It’s about making choices today that will grow your business well into the future; not just for the next 3 months.

We spend months cleaning up black-hat SEO tactics before we start building new funnels. We say no when a potential new client with deep pockets says he needs to sign new contracts within the first 12 weeks when we know his sales cycle can be six months or longer. We walk away from anyone with a myopic view of success, who wants the quick win over the long-term growth strategy.

Nike is doing a really good job standing alone right now.  They knew there would be backlash. They knew there would be opposition. But they stood up and made a very loud statement anyway, because they know that statement will endear them to their supporters in a way that silence never would.

I’m certainly not implying that your organization, or you as an individual, need to take a political stand to the extent that Nike did, but you do need to know what you stand for and where the lines should be drawn.

How far will you go to make a client or customer happy? To make a sale?

Sometimes, you’ve got to make some difficult, lonely choices to stick to what you know is right, or to align your organization authentically with the values you’ve chosen to adopt. Sometimes you have to speak up to support those values and those things you know to be right.

My nine year old gets it. Do you?