What are you willing to do or give up for a better world?
Unfortunately, my conclusion for the vast amount of Americans is – not much.
From wearing masks to foregoing multi-million dollar bonuses that were questionably earned, it seems as a country, we justify a fair amount of the damage we do to people and the planet. Me, too. I can’t say everything I buy is sustainably sourced, organic, or ethically manufactured. I don’t think any of us flip a switch and do everything “right,” or for the highest good.
Sustainable behavioral change either takes baby steps or a huge event/epiphany. Either way, it starts with self-awareness and the desire to “do no harm.” When we know better, we do better. We can choose better.
What about choices you make in your career?
I just turned down doing career branding for the former President/CEO of 3 major food companies.
I told him in the first few minutes that after 15 years in business (celebrated June 1st), I only wanted to work with people who are committed to prioritizing people and the planet alongside profit. He urged me to convince him that what I could do for him would get him better results. I flat out told him that unless he wanted to target companies willing to do this, we would not be successful working together.
Because he wants to target private equity firms who “could care less about people and the planet,” we agreed to end our professional courting right then and there. We had a mutual admiration for each other’s success, but we were not aligned. He said he learned something from me – to get to the point about whether two professionals will be successful working together. Our conversation was all but 11 minutes.
Obviously, this high-profile client could have paid me very well and referred more clients of equal caliber. However, I have been clearer than ever since 2020 what is at stake and I committed to only help people gain greater influence if that influence is going to benefit people and the planet. I reminded myself of that commitment and aligned myself with that energy before the call.
I absolutely could have justified helping him, and I’m sure some of you will think that was a dumb business decision. If I had ignored my conscience, not only would I have been a hypocrite, but I potentially could have contributed to harm, such as people getting laid off, if he would have seen fit to do so to achieve profit margins.
I think it’s important to note that I am not vilifying him. I am also not vilifying people who make the decision to contribute their time and talent every day to companies that do arguably more harm than good while the executive leadership takes home 4000% more than them.
We were all sold and bought the American dream. It’s one we all share – get a job with benefits, buy a house in the suburbs, start a college savings account, save and plan for retirement. Don’t be a drain on society is the minimum standard of acceptability to many.
Honestly, it seems sometimes we worry more about being accepted than the well-being of our fellow humans and our one and only home (for now), planet Earth.
It’s not cool to be conscious…yet.
My daughter is 11. She still has stuffed animals, loves to play pretend, and she sings with joy all the time. Any day now, someone will tell her that something she loves isn’t cool, and I am teaching her to say in reply, “I decide what’s cool for me. You decide what’s cool for you. Cool?” I will teach her not to let “cool” people decide what or who she should love or rob her of joy she once derived from things. Will she anyway? Likely. But I hope as she builds confidence as an adult and learns to make decisions for herself, she abandons the need to please anyone/everyone, including me, and follows her heart, not her head.
Does your head or your heart lead your career decisions when they disagree?
Think about some times in the past you made decisions that went against your head, and then the ones that went against your heart. Which ones turned out better in the long run? What did you learn from those decisions?
Some people will say that the decisions that they made with their heads better enabled them to reach their financial goals and, therefore, were better. There’s really no way of knowing what would have happened to know if you’d be even better or not. I have found that the clients who were able to follow their hearts still reached financial goals because reaching financial goals was still part of the criteria. They aren’t mutually exclusive.
However, when you align your talents, time, and contributions to benefit from the wealth that has been amassed by unconscious practices, you help maintain systems that exploit you and people like you for the benefit of a few.
Not everyone will answer the call to career more consciously. That’s okay. There aren’t enough companies and leaders right now to employ everyone…yet.
If you, like me, set a hard line in 2020 to align with others (leaders and companies) who are aiming to operate and act more consciously, then ask yourself these questions:
- Have you accepted, even adopted, a practice that you felt was unethical because your colleagues seemed to accept it and you didn’t want to risk negative perceptions?
- Did you accept a promotion without asking enough questions to find that now you are complicit in unethical, maybe even illegal, activities?
- Are you seeing leaders act in ways that go against the values the company claims to embody and embrace?
Do you want to career more consciously and with more integrity? Let’s talk.
Be cool enough to decide what cool is for you – consciousness.
Karen Huller is the creator of the Corporate Consciousness Ripple Blueprint and author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days. She founded Epic Careering, a leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, in 2006.
While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. Her solutions incorporate breakthroughs in neuroscience, human performance optimization, bioenergetics, and psychology to help leaders accelerate rapport, expand influence, and elevate engagement and productivity while also looking out for the sustainability of the business and the planet.
Mrs. Huller was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot.
She was an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. She is an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) where some of her students won the 2018 national YEA competition, were named Ernst & Young’s America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award.
She is board secretary for the Upper Merion Community Center and just finished serving as Vice President of the Gulph Elementary PTC, for which she received recognition as a Public Education Partner and Promoter from the Upper Merion Area Education Association. She lives in King of Prussia with her husband, two daughters, and many pets, furry, feathered, and scaly.