Three choices at work and in life – The Good, The Bad and The Neutral

Is it a great mission and vision statement that builds great companies?
Every company has a mission statement and a vision statement. It is the culture of a company that governs the implementation of mission and realization of vision of a company. 

Company culture
“Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions” – as defined by Investopedia.  

The corporate culture develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires. It is the culture which in turn helps to achieve the objectives of the company. 

Company’s core objective
Every company’s objective should be – to be good. It is not about being a good pharmaceutical company or being a good retailer or being a good luxury brand but it is about being good to the true meaning of the word “good”. 

Otherwise, in life we have two choices. It is to be good or to be bad. We always want to be good. The company’s objective should be such that when a client, supplier, or even an employee interacts with anyone in the company they should go back feeling good.

Good, Bad and Neutral
With good being the objective, we have come to realise that there are not just two but rather three choices in life. The third choice is to be neutral.  When we are thinking of being good we are actually being neutral and not good. Let us look at a few examples to understand that we have three choices in life and not two.

The interview
A candidate is going for an interview at a well known organisation. He has been asked to report at their office at 11 am.  But he makes it a point to reach there at 10:30 am as he does not want to run late. When he reaches the office, the receptionist asks him to wait and informs the manager who is just checking his internal emails, of his arrival. What could be the responses?

  1. The Manager makes him wait at the reception till 11:30 am as he gets engrossed in his
    own work and does not mind making the candidate wait for another half an hour past the
    scheduled time. The candidate gets done with his interview but walks away thinking of the company as a bad place to work.
  2. The Manager keeps the candidate waiting for half an hour but as scheduled meets him at sharp 11:00 am. The candidate gets done with his interview but walks away thinking of the company as a good place to work.
  3. The Manager, on being informed of the candidate’s arrival, immediately meets him without keeping him waiting. This is being good. The earlier option of meeting him on the
    scheduled time is just being neutral.

Missed meeting
Visualise another scenario in an organization. Jane had a meeting scheduled with a supplier from another country. She fixes up a time for the meeting but gets confused with the time zones and fails to attend the meeting at the scheduled time. The outcomes:

  1. Jane does not bother to even call back as the call was with the supplier and it was not on her priority list. This is definitely classified as being bad.
  2. Jane reschedules to another time. Is this being good? 
  3. Jane on realising the mistake on her part, calls up the supplier, states the reason and
    apologises for missing the meeting and takes the initiative to reschedule the meeting.
    This is definitely being good and the earlier option was just being neutral. 

This creates a great impression on the supplier’s mind about the company. The effect of the third outcome will result in the supplier being more interested in doing business with Jane. He might even agree to negotiate on certain aspects of the deal.

How to be good?
In our entire life we are conditioned to be neutral and not good. Being good is a relative term and asking someone to be good would be putting someone in a dilemma. They would not know how to act upon it as it is an effect and not a cause.

Looking deeper, we have zeroed down on two values which will always ensure any action to be good. These two core values are honesty and humility. 

Honesty and Humility
In every interaction we should be able to tick off these two qualities and ask ourselves:

  • Am I being honest? 
  • Am I being humble?

We must be honest to the point of being blunt and we must treat an office boy and a million dollar customer in the same manner. This is the crux of being good. If we practice these two values we will achieve the company’s objective of being good and it will help the company succeed with its mission and vision.

Taking good, bad and neutral to our everyday life
Let us look at a few examples in our personal life:

Movie Hall
Imagine a scenario when you are about to enter a movie theatre and you open the door and there is someone right behind you. 

  1. If you let the door shut, it will slam on the other person’s face, it would be considered as bad.
  2. If you keep the door open, you think you are being good which in reality is being neutral.
    Then what is good?  
  3. If the person is 10 feet behind and you wait and keep the door open for an additional few
    seconds then it is being good.

Bullying a boy
Let us take another example. A group of teenagers bullied a boy and beat him up. This incident came to the attention of a parent who asked her son, “Did you do anything?” His reply was “No mumma I only watched”. “Good boy” says the mother. Was the mother right and was the boy being good? The answer to both these questions is no.  The mother was confusing the term “good” with being “neutral”. 

This is the mindset that prevails in our society today. We are conditioned to think in only two folds. We consider that being neutral really means being good.

Good would have been if he had helped to stop the bullying or taken support from someone to help the boy.

When faced with any situation, we must ask ourselves these three questions:

  • Am I being good?
  • Am I being bad?
  • Or am I being neutral?

Apply this exercise to any given situation in your personal and corporate life and feel your life change for the good! 

It is not just having a great vision or mission statement that makes a great company. It is the objective of being good that makes all the difference. 

Think of any situation and divide it into the three aspects of good, bad and neutral. Do share your comments below. Would love to hear from you.

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