June 20, 2022

Going with the grain

We’re often told that left in a ‘state of nature’, humans would end up fighting a ‘war of all against all’, leaving life ‘nasty, brutish and short’.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen any evidence of that, not even in the dodgiest part of Manchester in the high-unemployment, welfare-cut-ridden 1980s.

This story is used (has been used for millenia) to justify hierarchy.   ‘Someone needs to be in charge, because otherwise everying will go to pot.‘  And with hierarchy comes inequality. ‘I’m at the top, so I deserve more‘.

As I’m working through Sarah Blaffer Hrdy’s ‘Mothers and Others‘, it’s becoming clear that flexibility, empathy, mutual care and co-operation aren’t just useful human traits, they are literally the traits that made us human.  These behaviours evolved before our bigger brains, before language.   They made our bigger brains possible.  Without these behaviours, we would still be great apes, or extinct.

So a flexible, co-operative mindset based on empathy and care for others, including those currently ‘unproductive’ comes naturally to us.  Anything else goes against the grain.

Suppressing our nature isn’t just bad for people’s mental health, it’s bad for business, and right now it’s sending us down the road to extinction.

We’ll need to mobilise all our natual proclivities for teamwork, ingenuity and mutual aid to prevent this.

And we’re out of practice.

That’s where small businesses come in.

Where better to get practicing empathy, co-operation and mutual support than a business that already feels more like a family than a corporation?

Who better to kick off this transition in the UK than the 1.2 million ‘bosses’ of family-sized businesses?

When better to start than now, when it’s not too late?

And why not, when you can grow your business with the grain instead of against it?  Giving your business an evolutionary advantage, enabling scale without adding overhead or stress or losing what makes it unique?

Discipline really does make Daring possible.