What We Tolerate is What We Deserve
If anyone has ever read an article in this space, you are familiar with the Kenway “Why” of To Help and Be Helped. We adopted the philosophy of defining our Why and beginning with our Why, in an attempt to create greater awareness for our clients, vendors, partners, recruits, employees, etc. A basic premise of establishing a Why, is to create alignment for parties with whom you come into contact. “The goal”, as Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why says, “is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have, the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”
As it relates to Kenway’s business, we seek out relationships with people at companies who share the belief that it is best to ALWAYS be helping OR be seeking help. In other words, we want to do business with people who want to improve or help others improve. People who are satisfied with the status quo aren’t great customers to Kenway. People who don’t want their department’s weaknesses exposed aren’t great customers to Kenway. People who WANT their weaknesses exposed, and WANT to address them are our best clients.
As it relates to my personal life, I try to seek out relationships with people who believe what I believe. I recently volunteered to be a mentor for CEOs of newly formed companies with a social mission. On the surface, this seemed ideal for my personal “Why.” I was introduced over email to my first mentee. And we scheduled a conference call to introduce ourselves, to gauge whether or not we would be a mutual fit. A few days in advance of our scheduled meeting, he asked to reschedule it to a different date. No big deal. A few days after that, and still well before our scheduled meeting, he asked to move it to later in the day. Again, no big deal. Then, about fifteen minutes before our scheduled meeting, he asked to push it by another fifteen minutes. Yet again, no big deal, but it’s starting to become one. At this new time, I called into the conference call. And waited. And waited. I emailed him to find out what was happening. Finally, I hung up, a full thirty minutes after our scheduled time.
Later that day, I received a quick apology, and a request to reschedule again. I politely declined, citing that I didn’t think that I would be a good fit to be his mentor. I felt as though it was important to point out to him that “a big priority for me is honoring commitments and respecting people’s time.” My thought was, if I didn’t explicitly state my reason for declining his fourth reschedule request, I would have been tolerating the lack of respect. Similarly, if I rescheduled, I would have tolerated it. And he might do that to someone else. He responded with a justification for his treating me that way, in saying that he was meeting with a client, that it was a million dollar deal, etc.
It got me thinking. If we prioritize revenue over our word, if we prioritize revenue over our commitments, what are we? Does integrity only matter when we aren’t pursuing revenue? And if we are pursuing revenue, then integrity can go out the window? A part of me wanted to bite my lip, but if you know me, you know that’s a challenge. I replied and said, rather repetitively, that I “prioritize my word and my commitments over revenue every day…regardless if my word was given to a customer, employee or total stranger.” Without others being able to have faith in my word, what would I think of myself?
Needless to say, I won’t be his mentor. Perhaps I missed out on an opportunity. Or perhaps I already succeeded as his mentor. I deserved better, so I wouldn’t tolerate anything less.
Bringing this back to Kenway, we take quite seriously the mantra of wanting to do business with people who believe what we believe, and avoid chasing business from people who don’t. Do you believe what we believe?