Everyone recognizes the good that is done when someone does volunteer work, contributes to a charity, helps his neighbor.
Some years ago, Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, gave a billion dollars to the U.N. In a television interview, a reporter asked him if he could have done more good by reinvesting that money in one of his businesses. Turner was furious and walked off the set. But to my mind that penetrating question is a legitimate one.
We sometimes overlook the good that is done by individuals who work in the private sector of our free market system. Unless doing something illegal or immoral, the greediest capitalist pig, in order to survive and thrive, has to offer something of value to customers. That’s part of the beauty of the system. And a free market provides the all-essential feedback that we are indeed adding value because if we make something or provide a service that nobody values, then we’re out of business.
If individuals are willing to part with their hard-earned cash to buy something that they feel is of more value than their cash, and the sellers are able to collect that cash which to them is of greater value that their product of service, then we have the win-win scenario that creates wealth. Sellers and buyers can sincerely say “Thank you” to each other as we actually do in retail stores every day.
Similarly, to the degree that our businesses reward merit, individuals survive and thrive based on the value they provide to their companies. An individual’s contribution is not only rewarded by raises, promotions, and other recognition, it is also benefitting fellow workers, the company and society. It’s important to remember, especially during these difficult economic times, that if you are adding value in your work, you are doing good.