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Life Lessons We All Know But Forget Sometimes

Aug 23, 2012

One of the most rewarding things in life is a feeling that you've made a contribution. We don't mean a monetary contribution or giving your opinion, but instead the kind of contribution that makes a positive impact to a person, business, pet, the environment, country, humanity, etc.

In our blogs, we usually tell you about tax deductions, discuss the tax and business arena, suggest ways to better run your business, inform you of upcoming tax changes, and we even indulge ourselves by writing kindly about ourselves—hey, if you're not your own #1 fan, how do you expect others to be, right?

In this blog, we'll leave the “shop talk” for next time and we'll give our two cents' worth on how we feel we can all be better people, and therefore, better business owners, managers, and employees.

Of course, everyone has different views about what constitutes being the best person you can be. You can be jumping out of helicopters and tanks, like the old army slogan, “Be, all that you can be, in the Aaaaaar-my!” or subscribe to the McFerrinism of, “Don't worry. Be happy.” Perhaps the Black-Eyed Peas song, “Imma Be” is better suited for this topic because it leaves the blank for you to fill (plus it has a catchy beat). Whatever you put in your “blank” (Imma Be..."patient", "punctual", "loving", "working harder", "going back to school"...etc), here are a few ideas to help you be at your max, all the time.

So simple to do, yet so many of us just won't do it. Here in our office, we've certainly experienced clients and coworkers in all kinds of moods. You can always tell which of our clients are salespeople, because most of them are very personable. We may be in a grumpy mood, but there's something disarming about someone who comes into your office with a smile, joke, or a kind word that surely reverses the mood dial back toward the “happy” side.

Obviously, as someone offering a service or product, you should always offer a friendly smile to any patron who comes into your business. Even to those clients who bring “nothing but problems” along with them. People will often pay extra to go to a place where they are treated nicely. Start the smiling trend yourself at work or home. The rest of your coworkers and family will eventually follow your lead.

Finally,share your smile with a fellow pedestrian, bus rider, or someone waiting in line with you. Don't you feel better when you make eye contact with someone and they share their smile with you? Come on, be that person. Smile.

Along the same lines as smiling, respect is about making others feel good about themselves by showing them that you feel they are worthy of your respect. There are times where respect is expected, whether due to experience, rank, or status, such as referring to your boss as “Mr” or “Mrs”, a judge as “Your Honor”, or an officer as "Sir" or "Ma'am". But what about your friends, your family, coworkers and clients?

Ever heard of “you gotta give respect to get respect”, “respect begets respect,” or “respect is not given, it is earned”? Society nowadays has turned us into a living sitcom. Many times, we think it's funny to put others down. We believe our quick wit makes us seem smart and charming, when in reality we may have hurt the other person. Depending on the severity of the disrespect, others may flat out distance themselves from us or they may just feel like,“I don't know why, but I just don't like that guy”--meaning you.

Whether we are in a position of providers or consumers, we are are subconsciously broadcasting a message of “if this is how I treat those around me, just imagine how I'll treat you!” If a prospective customer, employer, friend hears you calling a friend an “idiot for saying that,” or your child a “stinker”, or a customer “you're sloppy and a procrastinator”, or referring to anyone as “ that !@#$%” , that disrespect will be evident to them and you may lose an opportunity with that person. No one likes to be mistreated.

However, if they hear you interacting professionally with your coworkers, courteously with your clients, good-naturedly with your friends, and lovingly with your family, they'll imagine being treated the same way and will give you a chance to earn their business, friendship, and respect. That makes for happy customers, happy employees, and overall happy people.

“Com” is a prefix meaning “with, together” and passion means “a strong emotion”. Compassion can then be thought of as sharing the same emotions as someone else. Feeling or understanding what the other person is going through makes you a better manager, business owner, employee, customer, friend, and spouse/parent.

There was a guy in high school who slept through the entire class about 90% of the time. We couldn't help but wonder why the teacher didn't get on his case. It turns out that the poor guy and his siblings lived with his single mom and he had to work the night shifts to make money and help pay the bills—talk about a dose of real life for an 11th grader! My point is not to start a debate about the merits of hard work vs. complacency. The point is that the teacher knew the poor kid's situation and was compassionate enough to let him rest and to even make copies of the notes for him so that he could study them later, at home. That happened almost 30 yrs ago and I still remember it to this day.

A more recent example comes to mind. When Mr. Larry underwent chemotherapy for his bout with lung cancer a few years ago, an unlucky client got the brunt of a bad tirade brought on by the treatments (Mr. Larry should've really been at home resting, but being a workaholic, he was coming in, anyway—you know how he is!!). Instead of firing back, however, the client confided that she had also undergone the same trials. If I remember correctly, when it was all done, they even ended up saying a prayer together before she left the office. Compassion. That client understood exactly what Mr. Larry was going through and she responded with kindness and support. Be compassionate of others' feelings.

You probably remember the movie quote, “A man ain't got his a cockroach.” Few things carry more weight than a person's word and character. People's actions show their character. When they say they'll do something, they get it done. When they tell you that they appreciate your hard work, they mean it and don't go talking behind your back. When they tell you they're disappointed in your performance, they let you know how to improve. When they make an error, they admit it, offer a way to correct it, and learn from it. When they're in over their heads, they ask for help. When they are called to help, they accept and give it their all. We can all be like that.

One good thing about having good character is that it often motivates others to emulate you, so you may be influencing people without ever realizing it. We should always strive to treat everyone fairly and to “do the right thing”--to have character--whatever it entails. Whether it's charging a fair price to a customer, having the job completed by the agreed upon date, returning the extra $5 bill the clerk miscounted, investigating all sides to avoid an ill-conceived, hasty decision, actually listening to your kids plead their cases, helping someone in need without expecting anything in return...and a million more scenarios, someone will notice and hopefully want to do the same.

We all have a brain, heart, skin, etc. Most of us have a good moral compass built-in. We are all humans sharing this earth, and we are all trying to leave our mark—our contribution. Whether we directly affect one person, one thousand, or one million, it does not matter; what matters is that we “get the ball rolling,” make sure that “one good deed begets another”, and that we “pay it forward”.

Now, say a quick prayer and go out and change the've always known how to do it.

Category: Bookkeeping