November 30, 1995


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When shopping, it’s often not the price of an item that’s a concern—it’s the perceived value of the item vs. the price that people focus on more. Don’t believe me? Think about this: When you’re shopping for groceries, you probably look for the best bargains on items your family eats for lunches. For many, lunches are just the things that fill you up until dinner, so you don’t eat elaborately and you don’t pay much, either. On the other hand, when you and your spouse are celebrating an anniversary, money is no object—you willingly fork over $20 or more for a tiny appetizer, something you wouldn’t have paid for your weekday lunch. It’s all about value—at the restaurant you’re getting service, ambience, convenience, and time with people who are important to you. At lunch, you’re just getting food.

When dealing with ethics, people often think about how much they’ll have to “pay” to do what is good, right, and true. Being honest with the cashier who gave you too much change means losing the extra $7.50—but it means keeping your reputation as a good and honest person. Not cooking the books to meet sales numbers will “cost” you a promotion, a bonus, or a salary raise. Is it worth it to you? Better yet, if you get caught, will having cooked the books have been worth it still? It’s all about value—what you value in life and what you’re willing to pay to get it.

Ethics are about how we meet the challenge of doing the right thing when that will cost more than we want to pay. Most deeds born out of the good, the right, and the true come with a price and require a resoluteness that must summon up depth of character.

I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think I do: That is character!–Theodore Roosevelt

Simply put, it’s easier to do wrong sometimes. It takes less effort, seemingly gets you farther ahead in life, and is sometimes just more fun. Why do other business people do wrong? Here’s their list:

● It’s easier to do wrong sometimes because the crowd is moving with you and doesn’t demand that you swim upstream.
● It’s easier to do wrong sometimes because there are no immediate negative consequences.
● It’s easier to do wrong sometimes because it just feels better.
● It’s easier to do wrong sometimes because the violation just wasn’t that big of a deal—to you, at least.

Are those reasons good enough for you? What if you got caught? Remember, a strong backbone in moments of ethical temptation will save you from endless pain later on.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.—Henry de Bracton

Peggy Noonan spent quite some time writing speeches for former president Ronald Reagan. Since then she has written a lot of articles sharing the mind and heart of Reagan. In thinking of Reagan’s approach to world peace and handling other world leaders she said: “When you’re strong, you can be ‘weak.’ When you know you are strong, you can trust yourself to make the first move, the first appeal, a request or a plea. … But when you fear you are weak or fear the world thinks you are weak, you are more inclined to make a great show of being ‘strong,’ and never write a personal letter asking for peace.”5

1. Why do you think it’s easier to do wrong—rather than stand up for what’s right—in your own life?

2. List three situations in which you failed to stand up for the good, the right, and the true. What consequences did you endure as a result?

3. Now list three situations in which you took the ethical highroad. What made you do the right thing then—and how did it feel afterward?

If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. Men will believe what they see.—Henry David Thoreau

A few years ago you might have seen a feature “You Make The Call” that was run during National Football League games. Each episode showcased a difficult or complex situation during a game in which an official had to make a ruling. The feature asked the TV audience to take a position on what the referee’s decision should have been.

Upon returning from commercial, the feature would end by showing the right decision being made on the field by the referee backed by an explanation from the rulebook. The NFL has a standard to use in making calls on the field.

In light of our Golden Rule standard, and our commitment to practice the Power of One, let’s play…You Make the Call!

Was the call right or wrong in the following situations?

Golden Challenge # 1 -Right Wrong- On a recent business trip, a person took out some personal friends and paid for it with the corporate credit card and called it a “business dinner.”

Golden Challenge # 2 -Right Wrong – A sales associate alters the numbers on a product just a little to make it sound great, while knocking down his competitor’s product to make it sound like a bad deal.

Golden Challenge # 3 -Right Wrong- A job applicant beefs up his or her resume by adding a few false titles held at previous jobs and even adds a few grade points to his college GPA.

Golden Challenge # 4 -Right Wrong- A person takes a 500-sheet ream of paper home because he or she occasionally does some printing for work on the home computer.

Golden Challenge # 5 -Right Wrong- A person uses the company phone to make personal long distance calls while on the clock.

If you chose “wrong” on all of the questions, then congratulations. You made the right call!

Why are these things easily seen as wrong, yet many people—maybe yourself included—do them regularly?

What should be your ultimate motivation for choosing to do right?

Ultimately doing right will pay off. Explain this outcome.

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