Are You a Gimmie-Pig?
By: John Terry - The Black Belt Leader
At the end of the 1920s, America experienced one of the greatest financial disasters to befall our nation up to that time. On October 28, 1929, referred to historically as Black Tuesday, the American populace experienced the ramifications of a decade of wealth and excess, known as the Roaring Twenties. Rampant speculation, an attitude of "Give Me More" and "Mine, Mine, All Mine", and a failure to remember that nothing lasts forever fueled America's love affair with affluence at any cost.
Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie, gimmie...oink, oink, oink, oink. The Gimmie (Give-Me) Piggie kept demanding more and more. Self-centered, self-indulgent, it's all about me.
During this period, profits replaced people as the "most important thing". Self-indulgence and the relentless pursuit of prosperity became the norm. Those who had wanted more. Those who had not did what they felt they needed to do (even if it was illegal) to get something, and then kept doing it to get more.
A "Gimmie Pig" mindset permeated a "prosperity at any price" culture in the United States.
As all good things must come to an end, and the markets at some point will reflect the reality of the current economic conditions, the resulting 13% drop in the stock market plunged the nation into a prolonged period of economic contraction, dubbed The Great Depression.
It was in times of lack that people returned to what really matters - other people. The avarice and greed that permeated the Roaring Twenties were replaced by a newfound sense of responsibility for one's fellow man. People came together to form communal farms, shared what resources they had with one another, and came to realize that the relentless pursuit of wealth and prosperity by any means possible was a very shallow existence.
As America began to come out of The Great Depression, the world found itself on the brink of war once again, and the United States entered World War II. The children who had struggled to help provide for their families now found themselves being conscripted to fight abroad against the cruelty imposed by Nazi troops during the German occupation of Europe and Imperial Japan's push for dominance in the Pacific Rim.
One of the hallmarks of this era was the American embrace of selflessness. We as a nation embraced a cause greater than ourselves and rallied our collective strength and resources to defeat Germany and Japan, freeing occupied Europe and ending the wholesale slaughter of an entire people group by putting an end to the Holocaust.
We as a nation were committed to the ideal of "all for one, and one for all" as we came together to serve the common good of our nation, and the world. Self-sacrifice for the greater good was the norm, and we all looked out for each other. We cared for each other, sacrificed for each other, as we were committed to a collective cause greater than ourselves.
At the conclusion of World War II, America once again settled into a period of unprecedented growth and prosperity. Having missed out on their childhoods due to the Great Depression, then fighting a war for global freedom, American families slowly started to forget the lessons of the past, the importance of living selflessly and caring for your neighbor, indulging their children so they did not have to suffer as their parents did during The Great Depression and World War II.
Slowly, the mindset of a nation shifted from one of selfless living to the mindset that permeated the American populace during the Roaring Twenties. As the economy roared back to life at the end of World War II, the focus turned away from caring about other people to caring about "stuff". Greed and avarice once again became the norm as Americans began to embrace lifestyles of petty self-indulgence.
Corporate America followed suit. No longer caring for their most important asset, their people, CEOs turned their attention to corporate profits. People became a disposable commodity that could be dismissed solely for the sake of meeting a quarterly profit goal, especially in situations where the CEO's compensation was tied to "hitting (or beating) the numbers". Short-term profitability, the "Give Me More" and "Mine, Mine, All Mine" attitude that was prevalent in the Roaring Twenties had resurfaced once again.
The "Gimmie Pig" mindset resurfaced as we saw a return to a "prosperity at any price" culture becoming the new normal in the United States.
After two significant market corrections in a single decade (2001 and 2008), you would have thought that the relentless "Gimmie Pig" pursuit of profits, prestige, and prosperity would have been abated, or at least slowed. Americans have forgotten the lessons learned by the Greatest Generation as selflessness and service to others have been replaced with the relentless pursuit of selfishness, avarice, and greed.
As a result, there is a tremendous leadership void in America right now, at every level. Rather than serving the common good of the family, each individual member selfishly pursues their own goals, ambitions, and dreams to the detriment of all else. When a business owner focuses more on the profitability of his company rather than the welfare and well-being of his employees (who are responsible for his success), the Team Members feel they must look out for themselves first, resulting in them not giving their best to the organization.
When a CEO is more focused on meeting a quarterly analyst's estimates so she can maximize her bonus for the year, people become unwitting pawns in the relentless pursuit of more and more wealth. When employees don't fee that you care, that they have value, and that their efforts are appreciated, they fail to put forth their best efforts for a cause greater than themselves - serving that organization's customers and exceeding expectations.
My mentor, John Maxwell, says often, "People do what people see." If we are living for ourselves, focusing on our own priorities to the detriment of adding value to others, people do what people see. If, as a leader, you're not resourcing your people and showing genuine care and concern for their welfare and well-being, you're modeling a selfish behavior that will be mirrored in the lives of our employees.
And if your employees are focused inward on themselves, what does that message ultimately say to you end-use customer? That they aren't really valued? That you're more concerned about maximizing your profits, or that you're genuinely concerned about the quality of what you're delivering so that it exceeds expectations?
Has a "Gimmie Pig" mindset resurfaced in your leadership?
Leaders who don't love their people should not be leading their people. Leaders who don't love their people will not lead them for long. The toxicity of a "Gimmie Pig" focused leader will stifle your influence and create an atmosphere of "eat or be eaten" among your team members that will eventually render it completely ineffective.
Throughout the Roaring Twenties, and after World War II, the focus and emphasis of leadership shifted from people to prosperity. From selfless living for the greater good to the selfish pursuit of self-indulgence and greed. From a belief that we were put on this earth to care for one other, to help one another, and to leave this place better than when we found it to put the emphasis of how we live our lives solely on our own material wants and needs and the relentless pursuit of "More".
Leaders stopped leading. They became "Gimmie-Pigs" instead. Self-centered, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, selfish. And since people do what people see, they modeled what they saw their leaders do, too.
America became "Gimmie Pig" focused, and now expects and demands it.
So how do you get rid of a "Gimmie Pig" mindset?
Zig Ziglar famously said if you can have anything you want in life if you'll help enough other people get what they want in life. So if you're going to focus on the long-term WIN, you have to do so with people.
- Make others (your customers and the employees who serve them) your #1 priority. Seek ways to daily add value to your customers. Equip and resource your Team so they can serve your customers with excellence. Put your emphasis and attention on others, and serve them well. Give them your very best, and teach them to give their very best to others. This breaks the "Gimmie Pig" cycle in your life and the life of your team.
- Find a cause greater than yourself you can champion. There's nothing like helping someone who can never repay you for your generosity that refocuses your attention on serving others than being a "Gimmie Pig" and focusing on yourself. Give time to a homeless shelter or serve a nonprofit in your area. Ask your local Chamber or Mayor's office what some of your area's most challenging problems are, and become a part of finding a solution.
- Rally others to join you in championing this cause. People do what people see, and passion is contagious. If they see you're making a difference about something you're passionate about, and they can see how what you're doing ins making a positive impact, there is something in our DNA as a species that wants to help others who are in need.
This breaks the "Gimmie Pig" mindset in others as they refocus their attention on where it should be - serving other people.
It's important to remember that it's NOT about you. Leadership is about service to others.
Don't be a "Gimmie Pig".