We know there are two drives in the human condition, one away from fear, the other towards what brings us love and pleasure. From where I’m sitting it looks like a lot more of our systems are designed to push back fear than spread the love. But I’ve started to notice a change. What would it look like if passion ruled the world?
My friend Susan, an event planner who once worked for Steve Jobs, tells a great story of phoning her bank about her charges. After about 15 minutes she just had to interrupt the woman who was dealing with her claim and tell her “you are being so nice. I’m motivated by love, not fear, and I really appreciate your attitude.” There was a stunned pause on the other end and then the woman burst out “Really! Because I am motivated by love! That is what I try to do in my work everyday!” By the end of their love-fest Susan had a better interest rate and the bank had a very vocal happy customer. It was Miracle on 34th Street in real life.
Of course this could just be an isolated circumstance. An article in Harvard Business Review Dec 2011 describes the business model of Taj Hotels in India. When a receptionist encountered an unhappy guest she apologized, gave him a free breakfast and had him picked up by their limousine the next time he stayed at a Taj Hotel. She made all these extra expenses without her supervisor’s approval because the company policy is that the employees must act as the customer’s, not the company’s, ambassadors. Workers know they are empowered take any action that will enhance customer satisfaction. As a by-product, employee empowerment energizes them and they enjoy their work.
What about closer to home? Well, my daughter and I had a decadent drink at Starbucks the other day (feeding our passion) and her drink didn’t come up with mine. We waited a while and then I tossed the barista a questioning, and I’ll be honest, somewhat dissatisfied glance, as my daughter sheepishly approached to ask for her drink. He smiled and had her drink before her in seconds along with a coupon with a really well worded apology and a free drink coupon. It had a big impact. I feel grateful to Starbucks for putting that big smile on my kid’s face and teaching her that she can express her needs and people will respond kindly. Even the barista seemed to enjoy the impact of doing his job this way. There was a whole lot of love spread around.
Daniel Goleman ( Emotional Intelligence) describes a Nordstrom’s worker who put his heart and soul into serving his customers. When a customer called for a difficult to find jacket he had to tell the customer they didn’t carry it. The customer continued the search but got the same answer from all other stores. Later, the salesclerk called the customer at home to say he had made a special request to his supplier and jacket was on its way. This clerk delights in getting to know his customer’s taste, informs them when items they may like arrive, and will even call family members with birthday gift suggestions. The result is this clerk has over ten times higher sales than the average salesperson and he loves his work. This style of providing personal value to the customer is having a hugely positive impact on the bottom line. Harvard Business Review (Dec 2011) describes this scenario as the new direction of retail.
Is it possible that we are witnessing the end of the domination of the fear-based world as we know it, and the dawn of a new world more driven by love? If this is so, I say Bring on 2012!