All we need is love. Really?

The Beatles told us all we need is love and we mostly believe them. Or we want to believe them. 

We profess similar beliefs at our places of worship or at home. Many of us proclaim love is stronger than hate and we value human connection over our bank accounts. We love our planet, our kids, and communities.

We say all sorts of good things and mean them. And then we go to work and something else seems to happen.


Generally speaking, we don’t integrate love into how we work. 

We can love our jobs or our co-workers. We can be very fond of our customers or believe in our missions. In fact, many people reading this will have businesses that are deeply meaningful and are based in love for fellow living beings.

 But how we actually work and run our businesses, that’s likely a different story.

  • Do we infuse our marketing messages with love?
  • Do we begin the difficult path of working with a troubled employee by first asking how we can love this person well?
  • Do we love ourselves well by asking for the support, money, rest, or space we need to flourish?
  • Do we make purchasing decisions that reflect our love for our planet, customers, employees, vendors, and community?
  • Do we listen to how we can serve the needs of the community first, and make strategy decisions second?
  • Do we listen to our own hearts and souls before creating new products?


Two Sets of Values

For most of us, the answers are often no to these questions. Or perhaps we try, but it’s hard to lead with love and our core values all the time in our culture. That’s not how we do business. In fact, we have two sets of values. One for our homes and personal lives, and one for work.

While the distinctions in values are breaking down, how we operate in business is guided more by the values of control and competition, while we are guided by compassion, love, and other “softer” values in our personal lives.


I’m not making this up, really! 

Social psychologist Eli J. Finkel reviews the history of marriage and home life in America in his 2017 book, The All or Nothing Marriage. In the mid 20th century, the home was considered the “haven in a heartless world,” while the work world necessarily operated by different values. Finkel quotes historians Mintz and Kellogg (1988), 

“(The home) was a place for virtues and emotions threatened by the aggressive and competitive spirit of commerce, a place where women and children were secure and where men could escape from the stresses of businesses and recovery their humanity...The value of independence, self-reliance, and ambition were appropriate for the >marketplace and government, but within the home, a wholly different set of values reigned supreme: love, mutuality, companionship, selflessness, sacrifice, and self-denial…The family was a counterweight to acquisitive values and a refuge from materialistic corruptions.” (Stresses mine)


Recovering our humanity 

The idea from the above quote is very telling; home is the place where people go to “recover their humanity.” Indeed, the state of our world is the fruit of us setting our humanity aside as we go to work, focused on growth, acquisition, and “winning” before other concerns. 

In addition, our home lives in America are not the “havens” they are supposed to be to help us recover our souls from the cruelties of the world. Perhaps we are actually not so good at operating by separate sets of values – one for work and one for home – and our lack of compassion
and love for ourselves and others at work bleeds into our home and personal lives.

However, this is all changing.


The road ahead

The world has already changed a lot from the excesses of the past. Increasingly more people are demanding their humanity not be checked at the door with the punch clock. However, we have a ways to go before we can honestly say we operate with one set of values based in love, compassion, and mutuality in all spheres of our lives – work, civic, and home. 


So, what does this mean?

How we work matters, not just what we do.

Our values matter. And when you choose love and compassion over “getting” or controlling others, you are engaged in creating a new world. It’s possible that the Beatles are right. All we need is love, if that love is actually brought into our conference rooms, strategy sessions, purchasing decisions, HR, sales, and customer service.  

How would our world change if that were so? How would your world change if you made that decision, every day?


Moving forward 

So, what do we do with this? Here’s my thoughts. What do you think?

  • Begin with compassion for yourself and others. We need to be gentle with our judgements so that we can identify issues and change. Our harsh criticism will keep us from being able to see our own failings.
  • Pay attention. Do you see this is true? Where? In your work? In other companies, large and small?
  • When you notice you are not working in alignment with your core values, ask how might this situation look different if you were leading with your core values? Lead with curiosity and compassion with yourself! It’s normal for all of us to struggle in this.
  • Look for resources to guide you in the question. Bonfire Tribe resources and community are one place to look.
  • Find a community or group of people interested in the same issues.
  • Support other businesses who operate in alignment with your values and remove support from those who don’t.