We ate out the other day and were given some fortune cookies afterward. I smashed mine and carefully pulled out the narrow strip of paper: “Your values are more important to you than any money or success.” Hm. I guess they are. But what does that mean exactly? Am I doomed to lose money because I do what I feel is the right thing even if it hurts me? Wait, it’s just a fortune cookie. But as you can see, it got me thinking.
I refuse to believe that values and making money or being successful are mutually exclusive. Companies like Green Mountain Coffee are both socially responsible and successful. And both of my grandfathers ran successful small businesses without compromising their values. (One was a home builder. He’d be called a developer today — and the other had a well-known local tax business for decades before he retired.)
But, maybe I do need to think about applying my values to how I treat myself as well as to how I treat others. Because the “even if it hurts me” part isn’t treating myself with the same respect I would give someone else. There’s a fine line between good customer service and allowing someone to take advantage of me unknowingly. They didn’t realize that I fixed something that they didn’t know was broken. But, maybe if I had mentioned to them that I had done the extra work instead of telling myself “oh well, I only spent an extra half hour”, they would have paid me for my time. Or at the very least, they would have realized that I had gone above and beyond. Then perhaps recommended me to someone else.
I’m grateful to the fortune cookie for helping me realize it’s ok to treat myself as well as I would others. It is ok for money and success to be on an equal footing with values. They do not have to be mutually exclusive. Getting them on an equal footing is not accomplished by compromising values!