(Authors note: The following is written for three word Wednesday– detach, jolt, surge. It is also written for my monthly writing group that we call “Soup Night.”)
In the early 90’s, I belonged to a group of six professional women that met periodically to discuss current books and trends in business and management. We were all striving to be better people as well as better business managers and administrators. Most of us had similar values and although we were in different industries and professions we were all striving to survive being women in business.
At one point we invited a guest to our group. The book we were reading and discussing was Stephen Covey’s book, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. If you are not familiar with the writing’s of Stephen Covey, he is a champion for living by the principles or natural laws that would seem obvious to most people. Some examples of these principles would include the principles of fairness, integrity and honesty, human dignity, quality or excellence…well I think you get the picture.
We had all arrived at one of our favorite restaurants. Breakfast was ordered. We had a couple of members that seldom read the material, but always had thoughts about it anyway. That was okay with us, because we valued their opinions. But I was totally unprepared for the comment of our guest. She said, “I have read the first chapter and I think it is a bunch of garbage.”
Although there wasn’t an audible gasp among the group, there was definitely a visual gasp followed by total silence. I don’t remember who, but someone finally recovered and said, “Why do you say that?”
“Well,” she continued, “I don’t believe that anyone that is successful is really ethical. I don’t think you can be successful and ethical at the same time.”
I think nearly all of us felt as if her comment were a slap in the face. I know I was jolted out of my comfort zone by her comment. I waited for a surge of opinions to surface. It was difficult to detach our emotional responses to this comment and not create a scene in the restaurant. And although I didn’t see the comment as objective, this new member most certainly did.
This thought did, however, make me think a lot about business practices. Over the years I dealt with people who I was nearly certain weren’t honest about reporting their income. I am also certain that some of them took inventory for personal use and still reported it as a business expense. And when I changed offices, I had clients that I did not agree to take with me to my new position.
I found it interesting, that the people who were most likely to under report their income, or over report their expenses, were usually the people who did not work at making their business as successful as they might have been. To the public, these people often look like they are really successful, but they are often also the people who have maxed out every credit card they can get. Their homes have been refinanced multiple times. Their inventories are factored and during tough times they are the businesses that have the toughest time succeeding.
I want to believe that people who live with honesty and integrity, that strive to provide excellent quality, and are capable of nurturing others with patience and kindness are the majority, not the minority. I do believe that people who live a life based upon natural principles are always successful, because success is measured in more ways that by financial gain.