Do Not Do Good

By Fredrik Härén, a speaker and an author on business creativity. His book, The Idea Book, was recently included in “The 100 Best Business Books of All Time” and has been translated into 13 languages. He now lives in Singapore.

How many business leaders wake up in the morning and say to themselves: ”Well, today, I am going to be as evil as I possibly can.” Not many, I think.

I am sure that even the leaders of drug cartels in Mexico (who with a cynical definition can be called business leaders) are able to give what they feel is a good reason why they do what they do. They might say, “We are not forcing anyone to use the drugs and we are just helping with supplying the demand,” or “If we do not do it someone else will,” or, perhaps, “The US, apparently, has created a structure where it is impossible for us Mexicans to make a good living in any other way.”

Whatever argument they might use to explain their business model of selling drugs, I think they are probably motivated by it: “I need to do this to be able to provide for my family to keep them safe in an unsafe world.”

Doing Good Vs Doing What’s Right

In the same way, there are people who will call the fight for free abortion one of the most important struggles of the 20th century. At the same time, there exist people in the US who, probably, will plant bombs at abortion clinics because for them an abortion equals murder. Both sides are fighting for their causes fully convinced that they are fighting for what is right, for what is good.

Instead of always trying to achieve what we think is “good” or “correct”, perhaps, we should try to focus on doing something which is less focused on ourselves. Be a bit less selfish.

Redefining what is good

It is true that power corrupts. And I think it is equally true that people – and organisations who call themselves “good” are in a position where they risk being blinded by their own goodness.

I do think that companies and organisations should strive to be and do better. Is it wrong that business is – finally – starting to look at social responsibility in a responsible way? Am I opposed to the trend? Of course not.

Be unselfish and socially responsible

And one thing is sure. In a time when mankind has become so efficient at using the earth’s resources, that we are now using them in a totally unsustainable way, well, then, the value of being able to not first of all think of yourself will surely become more valuable.

Unselfishness is, perhaps, the most beautiful of human traits. Unfortunately, it is as rare as it is beautiful. And as important right now as it is rare.