How do you act when you go over to a friend’s home for dinner? Do you complain if the meal takes a few minutes to prepare after you arrive? Do you storm out and say you’ll never eat there again if they forget to refill your drinks? Of course not. Your friend is providing you with a service. A gift by preparing a meal for you and serving it to you. They probably cleaned up their home to make it look as nice as possible before you came over. They probably brought out the good dishes and they probably provided you with some of the best food and drinks that they had. You’re their guest.
And what is it you say before you leave for the night? “Next time you’ll need to come to our house.” “Thank you, everything was fabulous. We’ll have you over next week to repay the favor.” We expect to repay our friend for the gift they have given out of pride. It’s part of the social contract that we each contribute when we are able, and most friends will expect to be repaid at some point for their hospitality if you are able. (At least, if they are always the one having you over for dinner, you may find that they stop extending the offer after a while.)
Living in a free enterprise society, we are all giving gifts to each other and serving each other in our jobs and our businesses. Some people are talented musicians, so they spend their time playing their instruments and making music for others to enjoy. Some people have specialized knowledge in engineering, the law, or medicine and spend their time using those skills to help others with their needs. Some people cook for others. Other people serve the food to others to make their dining experience more special. Others clean away their dishes or sweep up the floor to make the place look nice. Some people purchase items in bulk that they know others will need from different manufacturers and arrange to have those items available for people to pick up in a convenient place. How wonderful is it when you have a child with a fever at three in the morning you can find a drug store selling children’s Tylenol?
It does not matter that we receive payment for these gifts that we give. Just as we expect a friend who also has a home and a reasonable income to repay the favor eventually when we have them over for dinner, there is nothing wrong with expecting another to provide payment for the gifts you give him if he is able. When you pay for something you are just closing the loop. Money is just a voucher for a gift you gave to someone else. When someone does something for you, you then give the voucher to him so that he can then exchange it for the gifts from someone else. The people who become the wealthiest are the ones who give gifts to the most people.
So when we are doing a job, do we approach it like we would if a friend were coming over for dinner? Do we think of their needs and how to address those needs? Do we think about how we can make things special for them? Really provide them with hospitality? Or do we see the customers as a nuisance? Do we do the minimum needed for them and nothing more? Do we make false promises or trick people into giving us more than the value of the goods and services we are providing? If we work for someone else, do we steal from that person by not working for all of the hours we are “at work” and “set our rate because we can’t set our hours?”
And when we are customers in a business, do we act like good guests? Do we thank others for the gifts they give? Do we expect to repay the gift in kind by paying a reasonable amount for the goods and service received? Do we see the business as a friend and not take advantage of their hospitality? Or do we go in with an expectant attitude like we deserve exceptional service and no gratitude is required? Are we impatient with those who are providing a service to us and unreasonable when things beyond their control cause a delay? Do we look for ways to take advantage of a business such as stocking up on the door busters and buying nothing else? Do we steal from the business by taking extra ketchup packets home or using their electricity and their space but not buying anything?
How different would things be if we all treated each other like we were hosts and guests? This does not mean that you should continue to patronize a business that treats you badly. As a guest, you would not return to a host who treats you badly. Likewise, you might not invite a guest back who was extremely rude and demanding. But how much better would it be if we truly did our very best to make our guests feel comfortable and take care of their needs. How much better would it be if we were appreciative and patient with those doing things for us? After all, in a Free Enterprise society the amount you make depends on how well you take care of the needs of others. Treat others like you would a guest in your home, and you’ll do very well.
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Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning advice, it gives information on a specific investment strategy and picking stocks. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.