For any business to function effectively and profitably, it must produce at least one product someone needs or desires. Many people have analogized business with life, with several books using "The Business of Life" as their title. Indeed, many parallels exist between the two.
If we look at life as a business, it must produce something. What does every life produce as an outcome that other people need or desire? Is it not integrating ourselves into society as civilized human beings?
The product of the business of life
From birth, every human being must do one thing to survive, thrive, and be wanted and needed in the world. Hopefully, they will become this product of life, growing into responsible, mature adults who produce real value in society.
Many years ago, a businessman penned these words (which apply to both men and women equally):
"In the business of life, Man is the only product. And there is only one direction in which man can possibly develop if he is to make a better living or yield a bigger dividend to himself, to his race, to nature or to God. He must grow in knowledge, wisdom, kindliness, and understanding." Victor Constant Kitchen (1891-1975)
As the product of life, you and I and everyone else yield a bigger dividend by doing what Kitchen suggests in the last sentence. We "must grow in knowledge, wisdom, kindliness, and understanding."
Enhancing the value of the "product of you"
School is crucial in helping us become a valued product in the business of life, as is working, gaining experience, becoming ethical/moral/principled, and all the other things needed in civilization.
In business, if you produce one product with no refinements over time, you eventually go out of business. Is life not similar? Of course, every product has a lifecycle and will one day become obsolete or die. The timing of when this happens is a choice of the business. It is also a choice we make in who we are becoming.
When we choose to continue learning and growing our minds, gaining wisdom, becoming kindlier and more understanding, will we not enhance our value? Absolutely!
One sure way to continue refining ourselves as the product of life is by becoming lifelong learners. Learning is not only about facts and figures; it is about gaining and enhancing your experience, skills, wisdom, and growing in your ability to think. As a business magnate said nearly a century ago:
"The object of education is not to fill a man's mind with facts; it is to teach him how to use his mind in thinking." Henry Ford (1863-1947)
The more you use your mind in thinking, the greater the value you can create in your life, resulting in a bigger dividend for you and everyone else.
Let's compare the business of life and the business of the automobile. As is true for most people, most new cars are in the average value range as a product, while some extraordinary cars and people can command multiple times the average value. At the other end of the range are used up people and used up cars. These fall behind new cars, becoming less valuable over time, ultimately being junked. A few very select people and cars survive and thrive into old age, increasing in value over time.
Let's be clear before moving on - I am in no way intimating a human life, which is invaluable, is the same as a car. But what we do with our life does draw parallels. This analogy is about the value produced by our lives, not our value as human beings.
The product of the business of life, you and me, lies in the choices we make. These choices can create great dividends. They can also create little or none.
One way to measure your dividends in life is by how many people you touch, how many people's lives you help improve, how much kindliness and love you share. These things make the "product of you" produce great dividends, far beyond that of any business product. The question is, are your choices creating a life at the premium end, at the economy end, or are they completely worn out and ready for the junkyard?
"The business of life is to go forward…." Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
The business of life is to keep moving forward, creating more value wherever you go. This value shows up in the form of good relationships, kindliness, generosity, and all the other good virtues a quality person will produce. Note that these things do not require money; you only need to be valuable to others as a person. Who you are and who you are becoming is your true product as a person.
In the end, business and life are inextricably linked, as one cannot exist without the other. Ask yourself, "What kind of product do I want my life to be?"
I leave you with a final thought from a well-known American businessman, publisher, and author:
"BUSINESS and LIFE are like a bank account-you can't take out more than you put in." William Feather (1889-1981)
How much are you putting into the bank account of your life that you can withdraw later? May it be enough for you and those you one day leave behind!
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