How do I want to achieve my goals? As I wish we all said, I refuse to achieve at all costs. I refuse be a relentless executive who squashes the hopes and ambitions of others, and who is rude and unforgiving. I'm not here to make enemies. I'm not here to be mean and personally offensive and to call people worthless, or to think that in the first place. I'm not here to hold grudges. That's not why I'm on this earth. I don't simply want to land on the nice side of things. I actively choose to do so. I refuse to be cowered by how "leaders" have achieved their goals in the past.
Merging achievement and kindness
We often frame achievement and kindness as at odds with one another. Nice people get walked over, don't they? Often they do, but it's never a one-way street. Letting other people degrade you by not asserting yourself and insisting on your worth is a choice. So is proactively insisting that your kindness contributes to creativity and is not a weakness to be exploited.
We look at success stories with the same assumption of mutual exclusivity. Steve Jobs was successful because he was nasty, wasn't he? This may have been true historically. It may have been true up until today. Now we are responsible to craft a better future. It's impossible until it's done. We can't be kind and successful until we are kind and successful.
My philosophy is to merge achievement and kindness. It's to be competent, confident, and kind. (Notice in that sentence that I say "and" instead of "but" - the two must go together.) It's to forgive others. It's to show that good will enhances rather than detracts from success. It's to show that you can have both. That women and gays and ethnic minorities are welcome at the table of success and innovation.
I can this compassionate quality. It is a loving and embracing attitude to others coupled with rigorous expectations of good work. When people know they are being respected and in fact loved they are motivated to achieve. They are bought in and committed. They are willing to work through difficult problems. And they achieve better results.
My idea of kindness and compassion is founded on the Christian ideal of unconditional love. It means to love one another unconditionally - even those you disagree with and those who have hurt you deeply. Even those who have killed you (literally, in the case of Jesus). It's a love so wide that it is in fact all-encompassing. It knows no bounds. It ignores our petty human divisions and walls and boundaries. It is limitless and undying in a way that The Beatles understood. Indeed, we all understand it. It's not merely a parochial Christian concept; it applies to all of us, whatever faith we may have or not have and regardless of what we fall ourselves or may have done in the past or have yet to do. We are all loved by our creator and the world will be a better place when more of us extend that love to others.
Loving people allows us to listen to them. By focusing on facts and letting people share their thoughts, we will understand their ideas and personalities and motivations. Rather than getting stuck in personal squabbles, we will spend our time giving impersonal and honest feedback on matters of substance rather than personality. We will be freed up to critique products, not people, and will spend more time making those products better. These are not "can" do items; they're "will" do because we "must" do them if we want to be virtuous human beings. I will do these things, and I expect the people around me to do the same.
Extending your love to people allows and encourages them to be more creative. Rather than worry how they will be perceived in a conflict scenario they can do their best work. They can focus on, and leaders can insist on, quality. This is a recipe for motivated and determined colleagues.
A life founded on making great products is a hollow one indeed. The philosophy and ethics by which I make those products is at least as important. I demand that my legacy be as much about my integrity and honesty and compassion and kindness and love as it is about what results I get.