Being in business is not easy.  It requires unimaginable stamina; a true vision for what you are trying to accomplish; recognizing, hiring and keeping dedicated talent; and offering something to the marketplace that is truly wanted and needed.

As if that isn’t enough, it also requires always “taking the high road,” even when competitors attack you or try to somehow drag you down.  Businesses with ethics and principles that are clear-cut and that they always adhere to, and who stay the course when it would be easier to get down in the weeds are the ones that win in the end.

So what exactly does taking the high road look like?  In my view, it means the following:

  1. Know what you value above all else and always put those values first as you make decisions for your organization.
  2. Express clearly and consistently what you believe in and what drives your business.
  3. Create both internal and external messaging that reflects not only what you do and/or sell, but also defines how you do it. What you say to the outside world should be what you actually do within your company all day every day, without exception.
  4. Seek alignment with customers who “get you” in terms of who you are, how you behave and how you deliver your services. Remember that not everyone has to like you or buy from you.  It is so much more pleasant and productive to do business with customers who share your basic principles and who have compatible “business styles.”
  5. Know what you won’t ever compromise about, and make this clear throughout your organization.
  6. Remain positive in the face of adversity and criticism. It’s okay to defend yourself against unnecessary or untrue criticism, but don’t be overly defensive about it.
  7. Refuse to be attacked. Just keep doing the right thing that is in alignment with your core values, and that behavior will speak for itself.
  8. Walk away from arguments you can’t win. Some people like to “argue for sport” or are overly-obsessed with always winning.  Don’t let them into your space.
  9. Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Sure “your talk has to be right,” but so do your actions that back it up.  Do what you say you will – every time.

Bottom-line is that taking the high road means knowing unequivocally what you believe in and letting those principles guide all your decisions and communications all the time.

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