You’ve got soul or you don’t.
No matter how depressing the news may get in the United States, or how outraged other countries get with our politics, when I travel to the farthest corners of the globe, I always find people who are madly in love with America.
What makes this country so irresistible?
Well, it’s obviously in the music of Miles Davis. It’s in the bubbles of an ice cold bottle of Coca-Cola. It’s definitely in a new pair of Air Jordans.
I’m talking about soul.
Not the genre of funk mastered by James Brown and Aretha Franklin; I’m pointing towards a more esoteric, spiritual sense of the word.
There was — and is — an undeniable energy we possess in America that cannot be found anywhere else. This quality was perfected sometime between 1776 and the creation of Pixar. It’s this crazy idea that anything is possible.
And herein lies the tragedy. Fewer and fewer Americans are experiencing this mental-emotional-spiritual state of being soulful.
As an entrepreneur, what concerns me most is the rapid speed in which it’s being sucked out of our culture. I’m not piling on corporate greed or big government. I’m saying Main Street in America is losing its soul.
Visit the restroom in the most popular restaurant, shop or theatre in town. Many of them are disgusting. Or try calling your health insurance company or the lawn mower repair guy and ask for same-day service.
It’s my belief that this culture wouldn’t exist if the owners and managers of businesses had the courage to empower someone in their organization to focus exclusively on meeting the needs of the people they’re suppose to serve.
Let’s call this person the Chief Soul Officer.
To prove my point, here’s a challenge for any business owner or CEO. See if you can answer, “Yes” to four or more of the following questions. If so, your organization has soul! (If not, you don’t need me to tell you Elvis has left the building.)
- Direct competitors consider your offering to be among the best in class.
- Employees and customers refer to your offering as “great”.
- Spouses/Partners of employees say you provide excellent wages/benefits.
- The smartest kids in your city want to go to work for your company.
- Local schools/nonprofits refer to your company as a community partner.
Companies with soul produce undeniably great stuff … from paper clips to rocket ships. They consistently greet and know their customers by name. They cannot keep bright, passionate people away from wanting to get hired. They radiate employee, company and community pride.
So find your company’s soul! Bust out of the crowd of peers that bitch about Obamacare, the tax code, or whatever the trending media piñata is that’s consuming cable TV. These things have no impact on the way you serve others and they don’t do a damn thing towards maintaining clean restrooms.
Like my friend Bob Goff likes to say: Choose to be awesome! And not just went people are looking. Soul reverberates from the inside out. From the bottom to the top.