I’ve been wanting to write out my personal values and those for my company. I’ve also been resisting it because, honestly, I can sum it up in one driving belief. Common sense screams that living by it 100% would be next to impossible in the way the world is set up today and to even try would be more inconvenient than the good it would do.
It’s this: I will not exploit or support exploitation.
Implementing this one change would shake up every single area of my life. Even imagining a life where I made every decision according to this one value, stirs up complications and questions and fear. It’s all very good and noble in theory, but it’s just not practical.
I’m not blind. I realize that when I make an effort to buy from a mom and pop shop helps my ideas, but doesn’t mean the supplies they use are not from a company that abuses its workers. I can purchase makeup from a company who pays fair wages to their workers (or not) but very likely the sparkly mica in it was mined by a slave child. I went into a supermarket once to see how many fair-trade marked items I could find. There were about six and most of them were condiments. Even buying from a company owned and operated in America doesn’t guarantee there is not massive exploitation or even slavery involved in the making of their goods. I’ve been wrestling with this problem for a few years now, and quite frankly, it’s overwhelming.
But does that make it right to not act when I know something is wrong?
Does the extreme inconvenience it causes for me somehow justify ignoring the damage that has been caused to another person’s life, just so I’m not inconvenienced? I can’t make a change 100% overnight. But I can make a change. Because I want both my life and my company to be built on a foundation of honesty. I want every transaction to be mutually beneficial to all parties involved. I don’t want to partner with companies that are unfair to their workers. I don’t want to use supplies that were made with raw material that harmed and did not compensate their workers.
I don’t want to climb to the top by stepping on people. I won’t do it. Not even my book is worth damaging a life.
And right now is the perfect time to take a step back. I published Swing almost a year ago. I have a better idea of what publishing entails, the different phases of it, and what it takes to get an idea from the computer to the page. Now, I’m going to take a closer look at each stage of my business to see how I can make it line up with my values.
It does feel a bit like conscience and common sense are battling in my brain, but I realized even if they are – people who live according to their highest ideals have fared better than people who listened to fears driving by common sense.
While normally I would err on the side of sense, I’m finding that in the areas when these two collide, it’s because common sense is acting out of fear, seeking a place of comfort and safety. Do I want a business based on fear? No. I don’t, any more than I want my everyday choices to be based on fear
If I’m going to take the time and effort to reinvent the wheel, I sure as heck want to make sure the principals that spin it are sound. So that’s my next project for my E. E. I. Challenge. Along with taking each area and asking the normal questions, I’m also going to ask:
Does this harm other people?
And if it does, I’ll know something needs to change. Because I want to do more than treat my customers and friends well. I want to treat everyone well.
It’s terrifying and it’s been taking up large portions of my mental energy lately. I have no idea how I’m going to do it. Publishing is a tough business, even when you’re not limiting yourself to considering every pair of hands involved. But I know it’s right, not only because it lines up with my values, but because it’s terrifying and uncomfortable and demands more than I’ve ever asked of myself.
And that means there is a massive chance for growth. It means I’m aiming higher than I would normally do, so it means I’m going to get different and better results than I normally do. I just might dip a bit down before I go up.
But that’s okay. Because there’s no point in writing books that inspire humans to treat humans better, if I’m not willing to do it myself.