Kath is doing a counselling course at the moment, and one of the exercises they were doing was to evaluate their values. At first the values exercise highlighted the need for hard work, achievement, and success. No doubt there is a place for these values in life, otherwise how would we ever get things done! However, as Kath and I (John) talked it through it became clear that these values did not resonate as quite so important to her. Her values lie more in the quality of relationships, and I have to say, so do mine.
So how do you build a business to be successful based on relationships rather than achievement? We have an expression here at Anam Cara, that we will build the Anam Cara Naturals business one relationship at a time. And we can see that this is true in the relationships we have with those who run the various outlets that include our products. I am thinking of the Crunchy (Community) Carrot in Dunbar, the Leith Collective in the Ocean Terminal, Calzeat in the High Street Edinburgh, Hendersons, LIL, Made in East Lothian (Haddington), and Pearsons of Duns. Here we emphasise how well we work together rather than how much we can sell with them. Then the values of respect, such as in how they run their business, and listening well, such as taking their suggestions seriously enough to make a change in how we work or in the products we make, getting behind each other’s values and visions. This is also true of listening to those who buy directly from us.
And we do not want to grow beyond where we lose sight of those relationships, becoming buried in goals and outcomes. Staying focussed on what matters involves a compromise in our business development for the short them, but we know that valuing relationships is for the long term.
To illustrate I am reminded of a time in my other job as Volunteer Coordinator, when we managed to get a couple of free tickets for a football match. This in itself was great and a great way to say thank you to some of our volunteers for all their hard work. Without their achievements we would not be successful in the business goals and outcomes. But what struck me most about this was when one volunteer asked if we could make sure one of the tickets was set aside for a fellow volunteer, his friend. He had noticed that his friend was not quite himself, not as quick witted as usual, and not volunteering as often as he normally does. He was concerned for his friend’s wellbeing and so wanted to do something with him that was different, to shake things up, and to spend an evening with him instead of him being alone.
These volunteers come to work alongside one another, to get a job done because they believe that what we do is important. However, the concern to make sure his friend got a ticket really stuck home that what enables them to work well with one another, is nothing more than good old fashioned looking beyond yourself, your achievements and goals, to another person’s wellbeing and to reach out to them. What you might call love, the essential ‘ingredient’ of Anam Cara Naturals.