Do the Right Thing

In the business world we often hear terms and strategies for doing business that are predatory, aggressive, and even deceptive in order to make the sale or increase profits. Words like shark, war, and guerrilla come up in the vernacular. But I’ve been watching people over the years, and find that, in the long run, people who are willing to cheat or compromise often lose out on true success. People who do the right things for the right reasons have more satisfying careers and happier lives.

So, let’s explore this a little further: Have you ever met someone that you consider to be, or to have been, a really good person? I would imagine that you could probably name at least a few. What character traits do you think describe a “good” man or a good woman in our society today? Perhaps words such as kind, thoughtful, generous, giving, and unselfish top your list. If so, I would agree – these are traits we would all expect a good person to possess, but there’s got to be more to it – and there is. 

Being generous, kind and thoughtful are certainly wonderful qualities, but I believe a genuinely good man or woman is also defined as someone who knows the difference between right and wrong and chooses to do what is right. Civil Rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King summed it up well when he said, “Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.”

Doing the right thing, whether in one’s personal or professional life, is not always the easiest thing to do. There’s a great example in the Old Testament of the Bible, where King Hezekiah of Judah decided early in life that he was going to lead his people by doing what was “right in the eyes of God, “ which indicates a high standard of personal integrity and morality. Even though he was criticized, laughed at and ridiculed, he did not compromise his conviction, and consequently history records that he went on to be one of Judah’s most successful and respected kings.

A good man or woman does not concern themselves so much with doing the right thing as they do with being the right person. Actions alone do not reflect a person’s intent or motivation; a person’s good deeds can actually be performed because of selfish ambitions or desires. Although we cannot always accurately perceive a person’s intent or motivation, we can get a pretty good idea by looking at the consistency of their attitude.

The attitude of a good person is characterized by several distinct features.

1. Desires to help others achieve their goals in life
2. Is willing to put the needs of others before their own
3. Demonstrates respect for others no matter their position in life
4. Helps others without expecting anything in return
5. Refuses to compromise values for personal or professional gain
6. Possesses a willingness to forgive when harmed
7. Is committed to doing what is right even when it is not popular

Being a good person does not mean being perfect – we all blow it at times. It does however, mean that we have the ability to recognize when we blow it and, if necessary and possible, we do what it takes to make it right.

The most satisfying and effective relationships between co-workers, supervisors and subordinates, family members and friends are the result of people who choose to develop the integrity, unselfishness, and attitudes of a good person.

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd



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