“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”
– Henry David Thoreau
Well, let’s look at a handful of opportunities (business speak for challenges) frequently experienced by business leaders of small and medium sized organizations:
- Feeling drained by interactions with certain employees or clients
- Attracting your desired clients
- Experiencing high employee turnover
- Finding that you no longer see eye-to-eye with your business partner or can’t reach closure on decisions
- Discovering that your business is no longer personally fulfilling
In most businesses, these opportunities would be perceived and addressed individually. However, if we view these situations in the context of alignment, we begin to see their similarities and thus the opportunity to apply consistent methods across the set. For example, in my Absolute Alignment Framework we participate in a practice called Living Authentic Values. By Living Authentic Values we formally establish our personal and business value systems and consistently communicate them to the world, via our words and actions. Further, they guide our behavior and become the litmus tests for everything we say or do. Let’s see how embracing this single alignment practice can benefit us in the various situations above.
By consistently embodying our value systems we send out overt and subtle messages that clearly communicate who we are and how we operate. This provides others with an opportunity to choose their level of engagement and alignment with us. At first, this may sound a little frightening. What if we fail to win a prospective client? What if we can’t keep a skilled employee? If we recognize that healthy and prosperous relationships are those that are of mutual interest and benefit, we see that if we lose clients or employees because they don’t resonate with our value system, then the only thing we’ve truly lost is friction. And, like mechanical friction, while the effects are not always immediately clear, it wears us down through a variety of costs and consumption of our life energies. In fact, the sooner we realize this, the better. All parties suffer less.
Let’s look at the situation above where there’s friction between ourselves and our business partner. Have we effectively communicated our personal values to one another? Did we create a set of values upon which to operate our business and are they consistent with our individual values? Have our values and those of our partner changed over time? Have those changes been communicated? A misalignment of this sort may not be the only source of troubles, but it certainly could be one aspect. By ensuring that we’re both on the same page, we maximize the chance of transforming this frictious situation into a more harmonious one.
Finally, what if our business is no longer feeding us personally? Have we recently evaluated our values? What about those of the business? Are both in alignment? Well established and internalized values, drive culture. If our personal values are in conflict with those of our business, our personal fulfillment will suffer. Recognizing such misalignment provides opportunities to realign, or in more extreme cases to align ourselves with a new business.
While Living Authentic Values is just one alignment practice, it demonstrates how a single element of the alignment framework can have far-reaching impacts on our businesses and our lives.