“Give us clear vision, that we may know where to stand and what to stand for – because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.” This is a 1947 quote from the Chaplain of the US Senate, Peter Marshall. This or close resemblances of the “know thyself” quote has been attributed to among others, Alexander Hamilton, Ronald Reagan and for goodness sakes, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Steve Bratkowski. A varied bunch to be sure. But now that I’ve covered myself on the origin of this particular species, what is the point you may ask?
The point is that every business has to know what their ideals are. Why are they in business, what is their real purpose for opening the doors every day?
When I was an executive with the Boeing Company, I attended Boeing’s annual leadership summit in the very chic Century City section of Los Angeles. After opening the session with a fabulous Hollywood production showing all of Boeing’s state of the art hardware flying all over the place, Jim Albaugh, then President of Boeing Integrated Defense business unit, said “aren’t you glad you don’t make mayonnaise for a living?”
His point was not to slam the food industry, his point was that Boeing had a higher purpose that everyone could get excited about.
So what are your company ideals? Have you laid out a vision that people can share? Are you constantly motivating everyone to make that vision a reality?
The best ideals pass the test of time. Giving meaning and purpose to your corporate purpose answers the question of – why do you open your doors every day, whether that door is online or on main street.
Ask yourself these questions when reviewing your ideals.
- What do you think about most often?
- Where do you spend most of your free time?
- Where do you spend your capital?
- What pleases you most about the direction of your business?
You should be able to pass just about every tough question you’ll ever face through your ideals filter. The answers may not be the easiest, or the most popular, but they will be true to your values and that is really all your stakeholders are looking for.