In the era of info-tainment, the media are constantly competing for stories and sound bites that snag our attention. What sells is the outrageous, and the even more outrageous. Sometimes, it can feel like the word “scandal” screams out from every headline, leaving us questioning who we can trust.
In business, relationships, and life, it’s always healthy to be skeptical, to ask the right questions at the right times. But what happens when skepticism becomes cynicism?
Cynics tend not to take chances or look for the bright side—but these are key traits that allow you to regroup from setbacks and make your own opportunities. In this tough economy, it’s more important than ever to be innovative and take bold initiative. So how do we withstand the daily barrage of bad news without becoming bitter?
Don’t be afraid to debunk your own cynicism. For example, ethics and profits are not mutually exclusive. Many companies–my own independent wealth management firm, LexION Capital, included–exemplify this. I believe Wall Street can and should be very different, with a client-centric focus and an ethical standard of business. At LexION Capital, we work to build a better Wall Street for all.
It’s a sad fact that the millions of people doing good work and ethical business make less of a splash in the press than the few who create corruption and scandal. But if you search below the surface, you can find businesses that embody your values—or start them.
Three steps to polish your personal anti-cynicism armor:
- Keep a firm grasp on what is most important to you. Attach your personal mission to a larger mission statement for your company, practice, firm, or position, and find like-minded people as partners. A key lesson I have learned in leading my own firm is that if an employee believes in the mission of the company, their work becomes more than just a job—it’s a calling.
- Be a dreamer and a doer. Do you dream of a better world for (fill in your passion here)? Consider this an encouraging and empowering call to action. When I couldn’t find an asset management firm that was ethical, transparent, and client-centric, I started my own. If there’s a niche you feel needs improvement, look no further than yourself to make it happen.
- Don’t accept a sub-par status quo – change it! If you believe that “business as usual” is not enough, consider how you could set a new industry standard. If you feel like trustworthy leaders, visionaries, and role models are few and far between, it’s time to step up and be the game-changer you want to see in the world.