The thought . . . what you think of me is none of my business . . . is a pretty popular thought and well-founded on many levels. Don Miguel Ruiz, author or the bestselling book The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom teaches that we should take nothing personal. A book by the title of What You Think of Me is None of My Business was written in 1979 by Terry Cole-Whittaker, a New Thought writer and Religious Science minister, and led the way for people to give up the addiction to being a people-pleaser. In one of my earliest blogs was entitled Celebrate Your Critics, I passionately espoused the virtues of this sentiment.
As with most truisms, there is a counterpoint. There are definitely times when what others think of us IS our business, especially when it is about our business. Word of mouth, or viva voce, can make or break an organization. Viva voce is a Latin phrase literally meaning ‘the living voice’. With today’s electronic media platforms such as Yelp, Facebook and Google+ reviews, what people think of a business is widely known to others, quickly and often without resource. Once a ‘bad review’ is registered it is nearly impossible to reverse a business rating.
As a business owner I have always strived to provide the highest quality service to those we serve, and have made it a priority to hire and promote those who are best at serving clients and students. At as many points as possible customer satisfaction surveys are taken, tallied and passed to me for my personal review. The class surveys and client feedback forms are how changes have been determined, strategized and implemented within my business.
One of the variables most difficult to control, however, is the human error involving miscommunication. While our overriding policy has always been based on one of Stephen Covey’s classic principles – Seek first to understand – as in all organizations, miscommunication does occasionally occur. When it does, I take it very seriously and try my best to intervene, offering whatever possible solutions are available to rectify the situation. What really breaks my heart is when someone blows up social media about something they feel was not done incorrectly, yet once the situation is corrected, makes no efforts to retract the negative reviews cast far and wide electronically.
As a true believer that owning a business is the fast-track to spiritual growth, I must continually ask myself what the lesson of judgment, seemingly fair or not, is about on a greater level.
The closest thing I can come to is referring back to The Four Agreements: No matter what, we must always strive to do our best. If I were to edify don Miguel Ruiz’s teachings into two compounded ‘standards-of-conduct’ statements for the purpose of customer service training, they would be something like:
I may be overthinking this, forgive me! My point is, to have a successful, service-oriented business we must care about what those we serve think!
Another huge area where what people think of you is vitally important is when you step into the position of leadership as a supervisor or manager. Long gone are the days when one in a position of authority could say: Do as I say, not as I do. No siree! The only leadership axiom that works is: Follow my lead; Do what I do.
Coming from a generation of entrepreneurs, the Lutheran protestantic work ethic was law in our household. Though grace was mentioned on Sundays, the emphasis was on hard work, frugality, and maybe even a little martyrdom. My dad always said: “It doesn’t matter what people think of you at the bar at night. What matters is that you are setting the bar during the day!” To this day, if I get real honest with myself, a deep-down-desire is to be described as one of the hardest workers in the company. This is not to be martyristic, rather to live the leadership values I want to embody. I do want to do and be my best! For many years I had a little plaque under my desk that read: Lead . . . or get out of the way!
Most importantly, when someone is awarded the title of ‘Teacher’ what people think of them is important on every level: Socially, morally, ethically, as well as spiritually. Buddha, Christ, and Lao Tzu were referred to as Teachers. None of them ever claimed, demanded or even sought a title of any kind; their goals were not to be famous, admired, yet alone rich. What set them apart is the way they lived their lives impeccably. Did they take anything personally? Probably not, yet they personally impacted the history of mankind. It was their embodiment of the agreements don Miguel Ruiz, the Toltec teacher of wisdom, was able to document and describes as ‘doing one’s best.’
In my search for a practical way to integrate my desire to embody the Tao, or ‘way’ of the Master teachers, I submit these as my aspirants:
Bottom-line: What you think of me IS my business when I choose to be in the world as a business owner, a leader and as a teacher. I must be committed to striving to be and do my best, as impeccably as possible as an expression of my Divine-self. The life lesson is to do all this unattached to what you think of me as my ‘human-little-self’. There is allot yet to learn in the business of life!
KC Miller is the founder and owner of Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, a business committed to touching lives, teaching others to heal their own life, so they may serve others. She could claim any titles, yet most prefers to serve as ‘Instrument of Spirit’. She is honored when someone chooses to call her teacher.