#WednesdayWisdom: Embrace the Power of Ubuntu, Not Envy

Don’t let jealousy and endless competition ruin your small business success

Ubuntu
Image: Thinkstock

As a startup or someone struggling with a small business, you may have experienced feelings of envy, wishing you had something someone else has.

You may have also experienced feelings of jealousy, afraid something you have—like customers, market share, or funding—will be taken from you, or grow spiteful over not reaching the same levels of prosperity as your competitors. Small business owners shouldn’t focus on competing, but rather cooperatively thriving with other businesses.

Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corp., who recently celebrated the growth of the cruise industry, talked about how other cruise lines are not his competition, because there are still millions of people out there who have still never taken a cruise. At the CruiseOne–Dream Vacations and Cruises, Inc. 2016 National Conference, aboard the Carnival Vista, Senior Vice President of CruiseOne, Debbie Fiorino, shared with audiences the power of the philosophy—“Ubuntu” over envy.  She was inspired by an article written by Martha Beck in O, the Oprah Magazine, which talked about how to overcome jealousy.

Fiorino is responsible for continuing to grow the company’s franchisee base, while providing exceptional support for over 1,000 agents. With more than 25 years of experience in business and leadership, she has developed expansive knowledge in driving strategy and plans for growth, which has led to success.

In her talk, Fiorino cited Beck, noting that envy turns life into an endless competition that nobody wins. She went on to explain what Ubuntu means, “The word is ‘UBUNTU’ (oo-boon-to), which has no English translation, but it essentially means, ‘I am who I am, because of who we all are.’”

Nelson Mandela explains Ubuntu, as follows:

“A traveler through a country would stop at a village, and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food and attend to him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu, but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is, ‘Are you going to do so, in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?’”

O, the Oprah Magazine’s Beck went on to explain it, by comparing envy to Ubuntu:

“Envy believes, if someone else has good fortune, there won’t be enough left for me.

UBUNTU believes that human well-being is not a zero sum game.  Wanting the best for each other creates a feeling of abundance – and possibility.

Envy believes I need to be just like (my sister, my boss, Angelina Jolie), only better.

UBUNTU believes we are all unique and incomparable.  I thrive by fulfilling my own destiny, not anyone else’s.

Envy believes if I had what she has, I’d be happy.

UBUNTU believes a positive life situation isn’t the cause of happiness it is the result of happiness.  Happiness comes from acknowledge that I am enough.”

Beck also writes, “If you make a habit of replacing your stories of envy with stories of Ubuntu, then you can begin to create new pathways in your brain—paths to a more relaxed and openhearted world view.”