How Self-Transcendence Enhances Value
This first Element of Value is key to the others. Self-transcendence is the only Social Impact Element and the only one where businesses pass value to others or society in general.
What is Self-Transcendence?
The problem is social impact is a mutual benefit, and the term “self-transcendence” returns focus to the self.
Mutuality is important and easily lost where a business donates to a charitable cause; a limited approach to social impact that has two important downsides:
- This one-way approach to charity means business has no skin in the game. They take little interest in how effective their donation is. They may be interested in the immediate impact of their giving, the outputs. “We equipped x schools with y desks.” But what are the outcomes? Is the business committed to social change or does it just want to look good?
- There is no harm in looking good. A business can point to the good it does, the real change for the better it commits to and benefit from its work for transformation through its marketing. Arm’s length giving does not do this. Agreeing with a charity for mutual benefit is likely to be good for both parties.
Self-transcendence implies mutual benefit. When a business passes value to others and society in general it benefits because because prospects see how it benefits others. This is a business that contributes to well-being beyond its immediate customers. In a sustainable economy, the costs to the business are balanced by the benefits it receives when prospects perceive it as a beneficial and therefore welcome presence in the economy.
Value for the Client
If self-transcendence is important to your client, what is its value to them?
Let’s consider two kinds of client.
The first is someone in business for social transformation. They want to help people and see change in the world around them. They need financial success to meet their aim. This implies they seek mutual benefit. For these clients, selling their services is likely to be an issue; is it ethical? Their vision is a strength and perhaps a barrier to realistic business practice.
The second sees no social impact from their work. Yet, social impact is real for all businesses as people are unlikely to buy if social impact is negative. So, knowing the social impact of your business is no disadvantage. It opens up new dimensions to marketing. It may be possible to enhance social impact through increased awareness and so increase income.
Social impact offers all businesses strategic direction. It does not have to be charitable. Improving management in a specific industry might be social impact, for example.
How to get there.
A good question to ask is: “What social impact do we have?” Something that flows naturally from your business is likely to be more satisfying than charitable giving tacked on to assuage guilt and look good.
If your focus is on building the business and balancing books, perhaps you have not taken time to look at the impact the business has and build on that as integral to its future. A clear transformational role, tempered by financial reality can set the strategic direction for a business.
We’ll see over the next weeks there are other things you can build on for strategic direction. But this one is on top for a reason. It sets the strategic context in which all businesses work. If a business cannot articulate the value it offers to society, it is likely to lose direction. It is not that it has no value to society but the business-owner is unaware of the impact of their own business.
Businesses that offer a bit more and invite customers to take part in social change have a competitive edge. Not everyone is drawn to the same thing but the point is to find those customers that are and build on their commitment to your social aims.
So, the challenge is to work out how to offer social transformation through your business. This may be easier for coaches or consultants who can point to direct changes they cause through their work. For businesses that offer products there are options from negative, eg mitigating environmental impact, through to the positive good using the product does beyond the immediate customer, through to activities the business takes part in as part of its mission.
This is the second of 31 posts about elements of value. Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below. The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:
- Social impact Self-transcendence
- Life Changing next Provides hope
+ 4 more