Over the last couple of months, I keep running into people with problems who don’t understand what I term the Paradox of Success. I have also discovered that consultants, businessmen, and authors are all teaching their audiences, in very different ways, that their understanding of this paradox is the basis for their success. Here it is: In order to advance your own agenda, you must forget about yourself and your agenda. Instead, you must focus on the agenda of your employer or your customers who are ultimately, your employer. This truth can also be applied to any aspect of human relationships. This is important because, in the end, even in this day of computers, too big to fail corporations, and unthinking unfeeling Government bureaucracies our interactions can ultimately be reduced to me and one other person. Bryon Traxler is a specialist who has done over $10 Billion in business as a mortgage broker. He finds funding at places like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs that he then uses to fund an equity position in major real estate developments. Before he agrees to a business deal, he always first considers his potential partner as a person. If he doesn’t like or trust that individual he will not sign an agreement no mater how lucrative the deal. Then he asks himself three questions. 1) Is it right?
2) Is it legal?
3) Is it profitable?
When he asks the first question he is really applying the golden rule (So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.) to every aspect of the deal but profitability. Traxler happens to be Jewish, but that doesn’t matter, the law of reciprocity appears in the texts of 21 different religions. Is there anything morally wrong with your intentions? For example, if you are a thief, either someone who steals time or material from your employer or someone who runs a CMO considering the sale of subprime Collateralized Debt Obligation bonds to a state retirement system your actions do not meet the first test.
If your plan passes the first test there is a good chance, but no guarantee that it will pass the second test. Your dreams for a 400 unit luxury condo development in an older part of town could be a very good thing for you, your customers, and the city, but if the zoning board says, “No.” the buildings will never exist.
The third question applies to everyone involved in the deal. A businessman must consider the legitimate demands of three groups, his employees, his investors or shareholders, and his customers. Before you ask for a job, a loan or partnership agreement, or a raise, put yourself in the shoes of the person on the other end of your request. What’s in it for him?
First of all ask yourself, “Should he like me? Should he trust me?” Would you hire yourself or would you look for a better class of employee? This even applies to anonymous stock purchases by retail investors. All the masters want to know something about the management team before they buy a position in that company. Would you knowingly invest your retirement dollars in a business run by crooks?
Then, if you want $15.00 an hour, ask yourself, “Am I worth $15.00 an hour?” I am sure that if you are worth $30.00 an hour your employer will fall on his hands and knees for the opportunity to give you $15.00 an hour. If you can be replaced by someone willing to work for $10.00 an hour or a machine that works 24/7 without asking for raises or health insurance, your employer has a moral obligation to his customers and his shareholders to say, “No!” or “Don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out.”
If you want a raise, tell your employer what you are already doing that is above and beyond the requirements of your pay grade. If you don’t know about his problems or what is keeping him awake at night, ask. Offer a plan to improve your performance to meet his needs. Make certain he understands you are looking for a raise, but you are willing to do more to get it.
If you consistently strive to become a person of integrity and excellence, I believe that the universe, your higher power, or my God is watching your struggles.
He exists and he rewards those who seek him.
As Mother Teresa observed, “In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”