“It’s not personal, it’s just business.”
You’ve heard it many times. Perhaps you’ve even been burned by the morally bankrupt philosophy—as I have.
What a joke.
“It’s just business” means, “I’m not giving you the money I owe you,” or, “I’m taking more than I said.”
It means someone is winning and someone is losing.
It’s an excuse to hide from the truth. To avoid responsibility. To compromise integrity.
To put it bluntly, “It’s just business” is code for getting fucked. And when it happens to you, it feels very personal.
Nothing in life is “just business.” Everything is personal—because business always comes down to people and relationships.
If we remove people, there is no such thing as business. Business is merely a bridge for adding value, solving problems, serving people.
When I sold my company, I asked the new owner to take care of my life’s work. His response was to shrug, “Life’s work? This is just a business.”
Just. A. Business.
Business is people.
It is impact.
It is a delivery system for value.
It is human energy and livelihood.
It is borne from passion and purpose.
When people take advantage of others and blame it on business, they shirk responsibility, usually to protect money—but at the cost of their reputation and Relationship Capital.
It’s time to stop hiding selfishness and greed behind “business.”
If we want a free society, one where free enterprise is encouraged and entrepreneurship is respected, we can’t tolerate the deception, ruthless competition, and terrible excuse of, “It’s business.”
If we want a society where capitalism is preferred over socialism, we must put people over money, while minding our money.
This is why capitalism has become synonymous with cronyism and corporatism.
Money is masked in statement of, “It’s just business.”
It really means, “Money is more important than my word and my relationships.”
It means that people justify their actions by putting their integrity behind their self-interest so they can make more financial interest.
When did business become removed from human values and interests? Why is being out of integrity “just business”?
When did business become about dominating, rather than serving and creating value?
Why have we succumbed to a culture of take whatever we can, have a chip on our shoulder to prove our worth, while leaving chaos in our wake?
What is the goal of the win-lose philosophy of, “It’s just business”?
To be feared?
To be respected?
To hurt others to get ahead?
That may be a way to get ahead of others. But is it really a productive and healthy way to win the game of life?
It destroys value, rather than create it. It moves money to the ruthless at the expense of others.
Why do people suspend the rules and make exceptions for business?
Is it because they believe in a win-lose, zero-sum game? Do they justify their actions in the name of “survival of the fittest”?
Has it become accepted that business is cutthroat, devoid of Karma, not about value creation and simply a cash grab?
Our culture of selfishness and greed feeds the deception.
Money is power.
Money is self-worth.
Money is sex.
Money is freedom.
Money is everything.
Our TV shows, movies, news, gurus, heroes, and pop stars reinforce this.
For those in the Consumer Condition, money is God.
This philosophy is both morally bankrupt on a personal level, and utterly unsustainable on a macroeconomic level.
Unfortunately, the Consumer Condition has been rooted in our culture for far too long, as evidenced by corporate greed, political deceit, market manipulation, unjust power structures.
Business is limited by the philosophies and language of scarcity. We speak the words that lead to business and money being perverted.
Listen to our memes, clichés, and conversations. How much language do we dedicate to money?
Money has us captivated.
Cash is king.
Not quality of life?
If money is what we want most and we trample over people to get it, what have we really won? Is it worth it? Will we feel justified and happy, or alone and miserable?
Business and money without humanity or relationships are hollow, shallow and lonely.
Those who ascribe to the Producer Paradigm understand that people are more important than money, and money is just a tool for creating value for people.
What if we all demanded a culture that is committed to people and adds value first and foremost.
What if we were that example?
We can’t singlehandedly transform the culture of “It’s just business.” But we can do our part to create a better, healthier, more productive culture.
I’ve been guilty of allowing this behavior and just moving on from situations when it has happened to me. I allowed it for years by not speaking up, by not leaving because I wanted to be nice or keep the peace or worse, was simply afraid to stand up for myself.
I’ve sacrificed. And when we sacrifice for others, we become the prey—toiling our lives away for the benefit of others.
It may not always be obvious, but it is the reality for so many people in tough situations where they trade time for money and live paycheck to paycheck.
When we live by more hope than accountability, when we’re constantly worried that we can’t pay our bills, we’re more susceptible to hearing, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.”
This is why being impeccable with our word, speaking up when things aren’t working for us, and holding people accountable are so essential. If we let values violations slide, we stress, we worry, and we lose.
It takes courage to stand for your value, for your life, and to speak up. When we know our value and own our power, and speak our truth early and often, we create a better life.
This isn’t easy.
It isn’t convenient.
But what we tolerate becomes our reality. We accept less than ideal from those that dole out the cash. We tolerate broken promises and allow people without our best interest at heart to govern our lives.
There’s one fundamental way we can avoid being a casualty of “just business”: to get clear on our Soul Purpose and the vision for our lives, and to invest in ourselves to make that vision happen.
With that clarity, there are still challenges. But we have the fuel, the confidence, and the commitment to living by principle, to live with love and add value rather than be a victim to this system.
Knowing our value can be hard.
Looking to add value in all situations can be hard, especially when we have been hurt.
Choosing to stay in integrity can be hard.
And removing ourselves from situations where others don’t keep their word or integrity can be even harder…but required to change the outlook and rules of business.
Business and money are personal.
There is a battle going on.
A battle for our money.
For our energy.
For our lives.
And for our freedom.
Most people are pressured to work in a system they don’t enjoy, but feel trapped in.
That is why economic independence is key.
It gives us choice so we don’t have to play by the rules of deception, coercion or “it’s just business” any longer.
When we play not to lose, we lose.
When we play to win, we lose.
When we get there alone, we lose.
When we lose our health, we lose.
When we take all we can at the expense of others, we lose.
When we let others take all they can at our expense, we lose.
When we sacrifice, we lose.
I want to change how the game of business is played. It starts with each of us choosing to get clear on our own values, vision, and purpose.
Does your calendar represent who you want to be?
Do you get time with people who inspire you or take from you?
Do you love your work and those you work with?
Are you living a life you love and don’t want to retire from? If not, why not?
Are you doing what you were born to do or settling?
What would you do if money weren’t an issue?
When do you feel fulfilled?
Where do you feel most appreciated?
Taking responsibility is the key to creating our ideal life.
Responsibility for our thoughts, words, actions and reactions.
Otherwise, we become victims.
Victimhood is “easy-hard” and responsibility is “hard easy.”
It’s easy to say nothing and stay miserable.
But it becomes hard to deal with the misery over time.
It’s hard to speak up, to honor our word, to call people out that discount our value. But it’s easier as we gain power, know our voice, and live in integrity.
Know your values.
Develop your vision.
Get clear about your philosophy.
It’s all personal.
It’s your life.