The Aspirational Worker: the need for a personal philosophy in everyday business

 

“Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around”

— Henry David Thoreau

 

     The modern corporation is often presented through digital media in a rather contrived way. Each site has a similar structure to the others, and seems almost like it is presenting a variation of vague aspirational corporate values from a playbook. While this sounds critical, think of the fact that corporations are not just a single person, but rather a collective of individuals compiling their combined knowledge in one central place to achieve consensual goals. A corporation is a community of individuals – each with their own unique attitudes, beliefs, and value systems. While a corporation can attempt to write an organisational value system, if it is vague and no different from their competitors, what is the point? The message of their organisational philosophy is lost.

 

      What do corporate and individual values have to do with philosophies? Philosophies are methods individuals – the potential and realized stakeholders – can come to identify with or build up based on their own experiences, which both result in a way to perceive, understand and interact with the world. Philosophies are the method by which attitudes, beliefs, and values are coordinated – sometimes allowing for contradictions in their premises. While this seems rather up in the clouds, stay with me to explain. If we are to assume that most people are logical or reasonable, that would imply the presence of a thought process that guides a person’s actions. A thought process, is how we evaluate our interactions and potential experiences based upon our values and beliefs. Attitudes are more malleable (think for example, of a case when a person is supporting organic products, but purchasing non-organic due to the cost). While I will not delve too deeply into theories of why philosophy is important to business I would like to set out a few reasons for why you should consider having a philosophy – a life philosophy with application in business as well.

  1. Philosophies can offer a guide to how to interact by giving individuals a means to adopt principles from which they can understand their world. An example of this can be from the field of ethics.
  2. Philosophies can offer guidance to those who have not found the answers they need within faith – Alain de Botton has recently come up with an incredible new movement with The Philosopher’s Mail where readers get to hear about a wide range of topics varying from popular culture, economics, politics, travel, love, art and nature.
  3. Philosophies can offer a means of setting out standards based on values through a process that evaluates how people should be treated.
  4. Philosophies establish processes which help to develop business methodologies and procedures.
  5. Philosophies also help to establish belief systems which help with the establishment of organisational behaviour and public engagement practices

    I recently engaged in a discussion with my friend Jay, about whether philosophy is relevant to us as students of business – and clearly it is. But where we differ is what philosophies are relevant. The interesting point in our conversation was how we discerned what philosophical theories are the most important to us. Philosophy, whether we identify with theorists who have taken the pen to the paper or simply thoughts we have come up with in our own heads are systems that we create values with, and for this reason it should be understandable that a person with a different experience will prize particular ideas over others.

      In recap, philosophies are important – not just for the stereotypical businessperson but for all working people who seek to better understand the way they perceive the world, and to create a more organized belief system for themselves to guide their daily activities to further their fulfilment.

 

References:

A., Charles; Jr. Tryon (2012-05-14). Managing Organizational Knowledge: 3rd Generation Knowledge Management and Beyond (Page 13). CRC Press. Kindle Edition.

Jeppe (2014 -4 – 4). Why is it important to apply philosophy in Business. http://jayexplains.com/important-apply-philosophy-businesses/

 

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