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Business Lessons From Josef Pieper 2 – Love Defined

Business Lessons From Josef Pieper 2 – Love Defined

by Jordan C. Lofton

In my last post, “What is Amor?” we reviewed some of the linguistics that have given us our understanding of the word love.  After Pieper explains the different root words, he asks the question, “But if the recurrent identity underlying the countless forms of love does exist, how can it be more exactly described?”  He then provides his own definition, to which he dedicates the rest of his treatise.  Pieper’s definition: love is a way of telling someone or something, “It’s good that you exist; it’s good that you are in the world!”

Josef Pieper

An Act of the Will

Pieper begins defending his definition, explaining that it highlights that even passive love is an act of the will, because it shows one is neither aloof nor indifferent to the object of love.  Customers, markets, economies, they are not passive.  They do not act aloof or indifferently to opportunity cost.  They make rational decisions that exercise their will.  In doing so, these customers, markets, and economies are telling the businesses rewarded that “It is good that you exist; it’s good that you’re in the world.”



An Act in the Present

Pieper says, “…There is also a purely affirmative assent to what already is, and this assent is likewise without ‘future tension.’”  We don’t love a company or reward them with our business because of their future value to us, but because there is a present value we can receive.  In receiving that current value, we also do so with the belief that this current value will increase.  That is the same concept behind investments and lending.  We believe it is good that the firm exists today and our investment signals our confidence in the future.  This is also the same principle behind the Net Promoter Score—customers find value in the goods and services and are willing to tell others that it is good the firm exists.

As businesses we put together strategies that are forward-looking, but do we understand why our current customers find value in us?  Do we treat our forecast as the reason investors should have confidence in us?

To Be and To Create

Pieper continues his argument explaining, “Love is really about ascribing to it the power to sustain existence.”  He breaks this down in two ways: 1) “The most marvelous thing a being can do is to be” and 2) “The most extreme form of affirmation that can possibly be conceived of is creation.”

The lover gazing upon the beloved is pleased that the beloved exists.  By just being who they are in the present moment the beloved is found worthy of love.  So in some sense the very fact that an entity exists shows love.  Be it a government, a business, or a charity, the beauty that draws the lover to it is existence.  Perhaps this is why we see that ideas don’t begin to thrive until they go from thought to action, from concept to prototype, from theory to law.  We need something to exist to rejoice in its existence.

In the act of creating we say that this work is something worthy to exist.  We are willing it into existence.  We are affirming that it is good.  Works that we do in business we should consider the same way.  Our products and our services should be created with the intent to be pleasing to the customer.  It should be a work that, once received by our client, evokes the statement, “It is good that this exists.”  So by the act of creating our goods and services we are engaging in an act of love.


In conclusion, love encompasses a form of gratitude.  We’d be remiss if we at GSC did not take a moment to be grateful for all whom we love.  Dear client, we love you. It is good that you exist.  Dear team members, we love you.  It is good that you exist.  Dear advisor, we love you.  It is good that you exist.  Dear supplier, we love you.  It is good that you exist.  Dear community, we love you.  It is good that you exist.

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