In a conversation last week with other freelancers, one fellow writer said, “I’m looking for a client who sees a writer as a revenue generator to be maximized, rather than a cost center to be minimized.” I wondered—what would happen if we reframed the way we look at all of our business relationships. What if we stopped thinking of people as risks and liabilities, and thought of them as allies and assets instead?
As with many questions, I haven’t come up with any answers—only more questions.
- In the now-notorious case of United Airlines, the airline was so blinded by cost considerations as to unleash a vicious attack on one of its own customers for the crime of wanting to go to his destination. What if instead, they had seen Dr. Dao and the other passengers as vulnerable human beings who had placed enormous trust in the airline? Might they have acted differently?
- Another conversation this week was with a friend who has recently acquired a status symbol she coveted. She relished the envy her new toy had awakened in others. And while they say living well is the best revenge, I came away not feeling so sure. Chances are that the feeling of satisfaction won’t last long and it will take some other triumph to provoke that same sense of delight. What if she put the same energy into a project that reflected her unique gifts and values?
- My father has an old friend, Leonard, who thanks him profusely whenever they see each other. Why? My dad helped train him when he was a new employee at the same workplace–forty-five years ago! When we treat others as assets, we never know the impact we might be having. We might even change the course of an entire life.
In the end, I’m not sure that money, status, or titles work as goals, even in the short run. I have a lot of admiration for people who do good work and treat their fellow human beings with respect, care, and appreciation, no matter what the circumstances.