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The importance of “values”

June 8, 2010

This is a topic I’ve pondering a lot lately.  In both my professional and personal life, there’s been a lot of activity around the idea of “values” and character — both positive and negative examples.  Sadly, more of the latter than the former.

As my readers probably know, I’m a huge believer in the importance, and “value” of good character and sticking to your beliefs. It’s something I also believe is a strategic differentiator as I discuss in my soon-to-be-released book “It’s Not Who You Know It’s How You Treat Them.”

What really hit me today was someone else’s writings on the subject. I picked up a copy of Craig Duswalt’s “Creating Wealth on a Shoestring Budget” and turned the page, after opening it to the bookmark.  Here’s what Craig has to say in the section called “Stick to Your Values”…

It’s pretty well inevitable that sometime in your career you will be tempted to do something you don’t believe in.

Many is the high-flown career that’s been ruined because the initial resume was “padded.”  If you do something you on’t believe in to get money or to make a big impression, you won’t be proud of yourself.  Your less-than-happy feelings will act as a roadblock to your success.

Just ad you rely on the good you do to return to help you, you can count on your misdeeds to come back and bite you.

Boy, when you think about all the news stories of people getting caught behaving unethically or even unlawfully, doesn’t this ring true? Can’t you, right now, think about five or six examples of violations of integrity and values — from business leaders, from celebrities, from people we trusted and believed in?

I’m particularly sensitive to this because, as I opened this blog, I’ve had some things happen around me of late where I really have to stop and wonder what people are thinking.  There have been such obvious and egregious errors in judgement that you start thinking there must be parallel universes out there — one for those who believe in integrity, positive character and values, and the other where anything goes.

But I believe, as Craig says, that our misdeeds will come back to haunt us, one way or another.  It may not happen overnight, it may not even happen in the way we thought, but I do truly believe that “what goes around comes around” and the things you say and do are seeds we plant for later harvest. That harvest can be fruitful and good, or it can be full of weeds. Your choice.

Now, I know there are many of you saying, “but what about X…everyone knows he/she has shady dealings, but they’re the one in the luxury yacht, while I’m eating pork and beans.”  I guess part of it has to do with your definition of “success.”  I don’t happen to believe that it’s right to become stinking, filthy rich on the backs and heartaches of others. I don’t believe that the end justifies the means.

Fortunately, I don’t believe that “doing good” and “doing well” are mutually exclusive, and I think you’ll find it much easier to “do well” if you also treat people with respect, dignity, and consideration. Doing what’s right is always the right thing to do. It’s very simple, yet so many people just don’t practice it.

Temptation is always there, and sometimes it’s easy to believe “just this once” won’t hurt. But the once can turn into “one more” before you know it, and then you’ve started a bad habit that’s very difficult to cure. Ask those celebs or businesspeople whose reputations and careers — not to mention family relationships and those with friends — may have been permanently damaged or destroyed if they now feel it was worth it.

At least if you always stick to your values, you don’t have to wonder whether this will be the time you get caught, because you’ll always get “caught” doing right.


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