The Gospel According to MMF


“The one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” – Bible, Corinthians

My friend CR is beset with the suspicion that everyone around him is trying to knock him off. As soon as he gets one of his promotions working well — usually by creative “adaptation” — he becomes obsessed with preventing others from doing the same thing to him. He encrypts all his e-mails, shreds his correspondence, and threatens to fire employees who speak freely about their jobs. It’s not a happy situation.

Another colleague, JB, prides himself on being a great negotiator. Ignoring my advice, he is always looking to take advantage of the other guy when he does a deal. A totally fair agreement but one that does not give him a little something extra is just no fun for him at all.

Would it surprise you to know that JB believes everyone he deals with is trying to take advantage of him? To protect himself from imagined harm, he low-balls every bid he makes and disputes every invoice. He treats almost all those he deals with — vendors, colleagues, and employees — as financial enemies.

Needless to say, both CR and JB spend a lot of their working life stressed out and unhappy. Are their fears grounded? Sometimes, but not usually. Because they make the mistake of thinking that everyone else in the world is like they are, they must defend themselves from their own type of wrongdoings — even though most are simply imaginary.

Liars believe the whole world lies with them. Cheaters fear being cheated. Thieves assume every friend and colleague is out to steal from them. And disloyal people never trust their friends.

It is ironic, and in some good way it is just. TJ, another colleague, is lazy and believes that his employees are lazy too. To prevent them from goofing off too much, he has established all sorts of time and productivity controls. The problem is that TJ is not around enough to police them (since he’d rather be doing something else).

The net result of this combination … being lazy and trying to prevent his employees from being so … is an atmosphere of distrust, one in which employees pretend to work longer and harder than they really do in order to satisfy someone who they can see does not do the work he’s asking them to do.

All these people share one thing in common: a negative view of the people they work with that is a reflection of their own shortcomings.

Is it possible that you make the same mistake? To find out, you must first discover your own faults.

Do you lie? Do you steal? Are you lazy? Mean? If you think you don’t have any faults, ask yourself what you worry about in others. If you spend a lot of time fretting over suspected negative behavior, it’s almost always because you are engaging in it yourself.

Fearing being treated as you are treating others should tell you something: namely, that you believe your behavior is wrong. Spend too much time doing things that you yourself know to be wrong and your soul will shrivel up and die.

Or … let me put it to you positively: If you can get rid of your fears and suspicions, you will be a much happier person and your success will come faster and more fruitfully.

Having a good view of your fellow creatures will mean that you will sometimes be taken advantage of. But if you limit the degree to which a good attitude can hurt you — and you can almost always do this in business — you’ll be much better off in the long run. You’ll be happier and healthier and will build your business on a solid foundation of good will.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]