Thursday, March 10, 2011

The return on investment of doing the right thing

When you take the big leap to go into business for yourself as I did four years ago, you hear a lot about ROI– return on investment. Wikipedia defines this most capitalist of terms as “the ratio of money gained or lost (whether realized or unrealized) on an investment relative to the amount of money invested.”

That’s all very reasonable and rational, but I seriously wonder if we’ve hurt our culture — and a heck of a lot of people — by only defining ROI in terms of money. I just got a copy of Ruth Grant’s new book In Search of Goodness, and I was struck by her discussion of the uneasiness that pervades our culture these days:

There is the general sense that, in the drive for success and personal fulfillment, modern Western culture has paid too little attention to cultivating, educating, or cherishing goodness. Some take the financial crisis as evidence of that failure.

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