Ethos is about character. It’s about the strength of character and your reputation. One the most effective ways to lead others is to lead by example. My dad always told me to always be good, because when I look back later being consistently good would make me excellent. I don’t know if it’s even possible to make the right decisions every time, but we can strive to make what we truly believe is the ethical decision. Many times, the ethical decisions in business are the more difficult ones to make in terms of immediate gratification.
There are many examples of businesses that come to mind when I link success stories to Ethos. The one I think of first is Patagonia – the outdoor jacket and coat company from California. They had a rough start, but the success of that company can be directly linked to how they took care of their customers. It was a revolutionary idea when they did it. They would make each coat that they sold with care and if the coats were damaged customers could send them back, they would fix the coat at no charge to the customer. Patagonia grew because customers could rely on them. They made it completely clear to their clients that Patagonia stood for more than jackets, they stand for quality and they take care of the climbers and the environment. As a result they grew into a company much larger than they had ever initially intended.
There are so many stories like Patagonia and it’s clear that Ethos is one of the most important values and one of the most challenging for people to sustain. The most gratifying decisions that we make are usually the ones that require us to work harder or to sacrifice. The decisions that are easier at the time might sometimes compromise something. Always remember that you’re battling for your customer and your employees, and you can’t ever compromise quality or reliability for immediate reward because those decisions will hurt you later.
When customers purchase your product repeatedly, they’re buying reliability. They know they can go other places and sometimes even pay less. They choose you because they can rely on you. Just look at any successful business and you will see that they need to sell a product that the customer can count on, or they will most likely fail.
When you think of selling something remember your Ethos. You need to have strong character, or you will lose your client because you won’t have the element of trust.
Your Ethos is important in every aspect of life. The way you treat others will always influence the quality of your life. You character is ultimately defined by the decisions you make when other people aren’t around. Therefore, endorsements from influential people like doctors, celebrities, or politicians can greatly affect your sales in positive way. An endorsement from the wrong person with a bad reputation can also greatly hurt your business. You need to make sure that you associate yourself with people with a strong and aligning Ethos.
I recommend a book by Dale Carnegie called How To Win Friends And Influence People. The book talks about his experiences as salesman and the importance of the way you treat other people. He’s basically talking about strengthening your character in order to lead a more successful life. It will be a happier life too because you’d be proud of the life you lead, and you’d have no regrets. Well, I guess we all have regrets and that’s unavoidable. At least you would be proud of your decisions and you wouldn’t feel shame.
So, Ethos means your character and how other people perceive you, and your character is defined through consistency.