The founder of McDonald's Ray Kroc showed deep wisdom when he said, "If you work just for money, you'll never make it, but if you love what you're doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours."
Love what you do, and serve your customer. It's easy to say those words, but often hard to follow up on them. Money pushes us to occupations that we really don't want to do. Over the last 13 years, several of my clients have told me they don't want to be in sales or management, but: "That's where the money is." Some polls I've read say that a third of doctors would change careers if they could. The problem? Income.
What can you do if you're in such a position? Forget about the money and focus on your customer. If you are doing a service to someone else (which includes internal customers like students, co-workers, and even bosses), you will find some meaning and satisfaction in your work -- and you get to keep the money. However, if you don't get satisfaction from serving your customer, it is time to think about changing careers. As Ray Kroc said, money in itself is never enough. Success is not the ability to buy things. It is the ability to be excited in doing your work and taking pride in how it helps others.
I like to use separate banks for my personal and business banking. I noticed something funny the other day: None of the employees at either bank were over 40. When I first opened my business account, the branch manager, teller manager, and several of the tellers were my age or older (I’m 52). Over the past three years, those employees are all gone. It’s the same story where I do my personal banking. The faces that I knew when first used the bank are all gone, replaced by much younger employees.
I frequently counsel clients that age discrimination is a reality we have to deal with. On a personal level, is still believe that to be the truth. We can’t move the clock back. However, as a customer, it’s offensive that a company gets rid of good employees because they can find a cheaper alternative. Customers are alienated when the people they’ve done business with disappear. It seems that the banks don’t care. Money first; people last. Too often that has become the model for business in America.
Lately I’ve been blogging about the disparity of wealth in the U.S. However, it’s a worldwide problem that had its best framing from an unusual source: Pope Francis. Since taking over from Pope Benedict, Francis has surprised many of us by speaking out in defense of poor and working people. This past Sunday, he put the problem in theological terms.
Speaking to unemployed miners in Sardina, the Pope put aside prepared remarks and spoke his heart. He said, “If there is no work, there is no dignity.” He challenged a world economic system that replaced God with an idol: money. The Pope then prayed to God to “give us work and teach us to fight for work.” Those words are powerful, especially in a world were workers are treated more and more as disposable commodities.
At what point is too much wealth too much and too much poverty too much? Pope Francis sees a world of haves and have not, and he is calling for change. May his voice – and his prayers – be heard.