In this third and final post related to The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm, this week I will talk about the ways that Fromm says we can learn how to master the art of love and how it can be applied to serving one’s customers. I will end the post with a beautiful application of many of the same principles applied to marriage by Joseph Campbell.
How Do We Master Love? 4 Requirements
Fromm asserted that love is an action and a discipline to master and it represents
“the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love.”
So how do we master love? According to Fromm, it requires care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge and all four are interdependent. They must all be put into action and not applying one will make mastery impossible. Let’s look at each one individually.
Care requires active concern and nurturing. According to Fromm,
“One loves that for which one labors, and one labors for that which one loves.”
We must labor for something and yearn to want to make it grow. And this is the attitude and approach we have taken at CWS in our nearly 50 years in business. We are intensely focused on the needs of our investors. We make a concerted effort to provide them with timely, relevant, and accurate information so they can understand how their investments are doing, the thinking and decision-making of CWS, and whether the outlook is sunny, status quo, or cloudy. We also know that one size does not fit all and attempt to customize our reporting for our larger, more concentrated investors. At the end of the day, we want to treat our investors the way we would want to be treated in terms of information provided and the level of responsiveness put into action. We know that capital is the fuel for our business and that we cannot grow our investor base and capital access without nurturing our investor relationships.
It is not only important to care about those we love but we must also feel a sense of responsibility for them as well. And this responsibility is not compulsory, but, according to Fromm, it is a voluntary act. The responsible person is able and ready to respond to the ones they love. According to Fromm, responding primarily refers to the psychic needs of the other person when it is occurring between two adults.
We know that investing is not just a rational, objective endeavor. There is a lot of emotion involved. People are fearful that they may have made the wrong decision, the wheels may be about to fall off, and they don’t have control over their investments. This is particularly acute for those who invest in illiquid investments such as real estate partnerships. Thus, it’s important that we be cognizant that our investors are not as knowledgeable about their investments and how CWS operates as we are. Some people just need to emote when they are feeling fearful while others may be far more hands-off and have a strong belief that things will work out just fine over the long term as that has been their experience with us. Regardless, we have to meet our investors where they are in their financial and emotional lives and connect with them as human beings, and not just as capital providers. This comes from feeling a deep sense of responsibility for their welfare.
I mentioned that we have to recognize that each investor is unique and should not be viewed homogeneously. This ties into the third requirement which is respect. According to Fromm, respect is:
“[t]he ability to see a person as he or she is, to be aware of his or her unique individuality.”
“[i]mplies the absence of exploitation as it is centered around the other person growing and unfolding as he is.”
I want to do my part to do all I can to help the person I love
“to grow and unfold for his own sake, and in his own ways, and not for the purpose of serving me.”
This means that I have to feel secure in my own self and have a sense of freedom to enable me to act in this selfless, non-exploitive way.CWS’ purpose statement is Enhancing Lives the CWS WayClick To Tweet
CWS’ purpose statement is Enhancing Lives the CWS Way. We are all about using our resources and skills to enhance the lives of our investors, residents, and employees. Nothing is more gratifying for us then when we come to learn that investors’ lives have been enhanced because of their investments with us. They have been able to help fund college educations, a better, more improved home, a more comfortable retirement, travel, philanthropy, health, and hobbies, etc. We truly want people to invest with us who understand us and we understand them and together we can add to the quality of each other’s lives.
To continue with the interdependence and application to investing, one of the most important SEC requirements is to know your customer. There is a duty among financial advisors to make sure that investments are suitable for their clients and this can only come from an intimate knowledge of their financial picture, liquidity needs, cash flow requirement, and risk tolerance.
This is the same for love as Knowledge is the fourth required component. According to Fromm, this is
“[t]he knowledge which is an aspect of love is one which does not stay at the periphery but penetrates to the core.”
This can only be possible when I make every effort to see and understand the person on his own terms while transcending my own personal concern. It’s an active union that is based on ruthless objectivity.
According to Fromm,
“Only by knowing a human being objectively, can I know him in his ultimate essence, in the act of love.”
Although I tied this post to customer service, the natural connection is to a marriage. The most service-focused companies often believe their relationships with their customers is like a marriage. The following is from Joseph Campbell that I transcribed from an interview I listened to awhile back that I thought was so powerful and insightful. He speaks so eloquently about the purpose of marriage and notices how closely it ties into what Fromm wrote about.
- A successful marriage is leading innovative lives together, being open, non-programmed. It’s a free fall: how you handle each new thing as it comes along.
- Do things together that require both of you. For the gentle heart, marriage must first be spiritual, then comes physical consummation.
- Gentle heart involves a sense of responsibility to the person. No responsibility with lust. Is this person seeking a possession or is the person feeling a responsibility to the one with whom the relationship is taking place? Love without a sense of responsibility is not love. It’s taking possession. Are you taking that person’s life into your own hands? Turning your destiny over to a dual destiny is a life commitment. Your relationship to your spouse has primary consideration in your life. It’s got to be top.
- Transformations can occur if you can, as a kind of personal discipline, increase the atmosphere of love and confidence and cooperation.
- You are not sacrificing yourself to the other person. You are sacrificing yourself to the relationship.
- Can I open myself to compassion? Not to lust, but to compassion (suffering with). An immediate participation in the suffering of another to such a degree that you forget yourself and your own safety and spontaneously do what’s necessary. Compassion is opposite to doing what you think you ought to do.