Hi friends! Ron today from Cortona, Italy! I wanted to take a few minutes to talk to you about what we’ve been experiencing. My wife and I and another couple have just come from Rome where we spent five days seeing all the great sights, running around and getting on buses, and walking a great deal. We were exhausted when we got to Cortona via train. It’s a beautiful hill city, a very peaceful, beautiful place.
Undoubtedly the economy is a mess. But wasn’t it the greed, arrogance and self-absorption on wall street along with the get-rich-quick mindset, greed and selfishness on main street that got us here.
And, as people are responding now, don’t we see fundamentally a response that flows from character or lack of it?
Think about it… fear, blaming others, denial, worry, dishonesty, inappropriate anger (I think there is plenty of good anger needed right now)?
And the biggest issue to me.. how do we start to make adjustments based on good character.. taking responsibility, kicking in the work ethic, caring for others in need, being generous, providing positive solutions, etc.
What do you think?
Socrates once said, “you’ll never know a line is crooked unless you have a straight line to put next to it.” And, we have increasingly lost our “straight lines” in our culture. This needs to drive us to be clear about what our absolutes and non-negotiable values are. And, a great way to do this is to write up and then live out a code of ethics. I recently came across the Harvard Business School MBA Code of Ethics. This code developed and promoted by students and graduates of the school to promote “straight lines” is intriguing and helpful. As a business leader I recognize my role in society.
- My purpose is to lead people and manage resources to create value that no single individual can create alone.
- My decisions affect the well-being of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and tomorrow.
Therefore, I promise that:
- I will manage my enterprise with loyalty and care, and will not advance my personal interests at the expense of my enterprise or society.
- I will understand and uphold, in letter and spirit, the laws and contracts governing my conduct and that of my enterprise.
- I will refrain from corruption, unfair competition, or business practices harmful to society.
- I will protect the human rights and dignity of all people affected by my enterprise, and I will oppose discrimination and exploitation.
- I will protect the right of future generations to advance their standard of living and enjoy a healthy planet.
- I will report the performance and risks of my enterprise accurately and honestly.
- I will invest in developing myself and others, helping the management profession continue to advance and create sustainable and inclusive prosperity.
In exercising my professional duties according to these principles, I recognize that my behavior must set an example of integrity, eliciting trust and esteem from those I serve. I will remain accountable to my peers and to society for my actions and for upholding these standards. This oath I make freely, and upon my honor. What do you think of this and what other examples of great Codes of Ethics have you come across?
“How STUPID” was the comment my wife and I simultaneously uttered last night while watching the news report of Republican congressman Chris Lee resigning after his shirtless Craigslist post.
The reporter said, “Republican politician resigns after woman’s web search reveals ‘fit fun classy guy’ posing as divorcee to be in fact married with a son.”
You probably know the story by now. Our response of “how stupid” resulted from the disconnect. After all, how could a powerful, second-term US Congressman do something so wreckless and, yes, stupid?
He has a wife and son and was a rising star in the Republican Party, but he tanked. Why?
My sense is that he became stupid like most of us do … slowly but surely. Here is what seems to be the evolution of this kind of stupidity.
- Success and recognition of our accomplishments.
- Beginning to believe our own press.
- A lack of attention to and/or unwillingness to address character flaws and inappropriate and unhealthy internal motivations.
- Pressures of leadership and life.
- Refusal to develop self-discipline and good habits.
- A sense of inadequacy and unfulfillment.
- Development of a facade or public front.
- A growing lack of support and personal accountability.
- Increasing split between the private and public life.
- Self-sabotaging behavior.
- Increasingly risky activities.
- Crashing publicly.
- Disgrace and dishonor.
That’s my take on how we become stupid. We all have the capacity to end up there. That’s why we so desperately need friends who support us and hold our feet to the fire, internal spiritual resources, a focus on inner life and integrity (same in public as we are in private), and the humility to admit when we mess up (as we all do).
By the way, my wife and I are both filled with sorrow for him (hey we’re all seriously flawed), his family, the US Congress and the millions of people touched by yet another sad situation. But this forced me to ask how can this kind of thing happens?
What do you think? Did I get this right? What would you add or edit? Let’s think about this together.
Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built;
Not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories,
but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.
“What Will Matter“. Michael Josephson, one of the nation’s leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.