Personal Ethics – Three tips for 2010
Looking back at the past 12 months, we have had some good examples of misdeeds by political figures, government office holders, financial industry heavy weights, sports and entertainment figures and the general population. As the year ends I am offering a few quick and easy tips for anyone who might find themselves “on the fence” and struggling with a difficult decision!
1. Is it possible…Mother does know best?
One group that tends to bear the brunt of the individual’s compromised ethics or lapse in judgment– family members. Spouses, children, even parents suffer along with the key figure whose shortcomings may endlessly be played out in the media. I call this collateral damage—and innocent family members don’t deserve to suffer for someone else’s mistake.
Considering the impact of a particular decision on family members ahead of time might not be a bad tool to use when decision making gets difficult. The old admonition “What would your mother say?” might just be the wakeup call we need to avert disaster when temptation presents itself. If you find that you would not want your mother to know about an action you are contemplating, this could be a strong indicator that you are on the wrong track.
2. If your plan is based upon something needing to remain a secret—this might be a sign your plan is flawed.
In my experience, if we live with integrity, the need for secrecy is greatly diminished.
I was reminded of this lesson when I decided to purchase a boat. My wife and I have always had an unwritten rule that any major purchase is discussed jointly ahead of time. While babysitting my young granddaughter on a beautiful spring day I decided to stop in and look at boats at a marina near her home. Before you could say “outboard motor” I was inking the deal to purchase a new boat.
While I evaluated how I would gently let my wife know about the purchase, I figured my secret was safe for a while since my only real accomplice was a toddler. Within hours my oldest daughter was on the phone with my wife and said “Congratulations! I heard Dad bought a new boat!” My wife was adamant in her denial….”Your father would never buy a boat without discussing it with me first. Where did you get this information?” My daughter revealed that her little one, whose verbal skills had heretofore been relatively limited, told her “Papa bought a boat!”
3. If you are so sure “this won’t be a problem” for someone, why not ask them directly?
Perhaps you have experienced situations in business where you were confident that your actions were ethical but somewhat concerned that they might be interpreted otherwise by one of your business associates. Why not try a direct approach?
I had a long standing relationship with a large organization and presented multiple programs over a number of years. A bureau contacted me with a proposal for a program for the same organization, different division, and I ended up working with the bureau on the booking. Later, when my original contact called to book another program, I was concerned that without understanding the background, the bureau might think I was excluding them and “doing business behind their back.” Bureaus are understandably protective of their contacts.
A phone call was all that was necessary to avert any misunderstanding. I was sure they would understand, and after checking with them directly, this was confirmed. Always better to verify with that person, than just assume!