“What is right with the world is the world. In fact, nearly everything else is wrong with it.”
G. K. Chesterton.
People want to do the right thing. It is something we all regard as worthy and desirable. It is a belief, and a standard that is the heart of everything we do.
Organizations want to do the right thing. It is a fundamental principle that shows up in people, processes and products.
Integrity is doing the right thing, doing the next right thing and doing things right.
But, what is right?
The American Management Association (AMA) produced a study of business ethics report entitled “The Ethical Enterprise: Doing the Right Thing in the Right Ways, Today and Tomorrow.”
The United States of America has the Bill of Rights while the United Nations has the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Buddhism has the Noble eightfold path which consists of: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.
Again, what is right?
Perhaps a few simple definitions that juxtapose right with wrong will help:
• Right is real. All that is unreal is wrong.
• Right is a responsible act. Irresponsible acts are wrong.
• Right is true. Wrong is false.
• Right is correct, factual and error free. Wrong is everything else.
• Right conforms to objective standards. Wrong dissents.
• Right is just and equitable. That which is inequitable and unjust is wrong.
• Right is precise, and proper. Wrong is all that is unsatisfactory, and improper.
The word “right” refers to that which is universal, consistent and objective. All people, regardless of race or nationality understand the concept. Even a child knows right.
Right is a timeless proven concept that has been true in the past while providing direction today and tomorrow. It is an objective standard of human action for all in a subjective world.
Some people argue that right is wrong and wrong is right. Truth for these people is a popularity contest. If one other agrees with the rationalization or justification for wrong, then it may be right. If many others agree, then it must be truth.
Doing the right thing is easy to talk about but hard to discern. It is so difficult to do what is right and it is so easy to be wrong.
The ability to discern right is manifested within the reality of your life at home, at work and at play. Every day provides opportunities to choose. Each right choice is narrow and challenging. Each wrong choice is broad and easy.
Choosing wrong makes it more difficult to choose right.
People and corporations have developed a way to handle the difficult challenge of right. This way simply offers the provision for exceptions that can be used to resolve contradictions in practical circumstances.
For example, the AMA reports that seven out of ten employees would most likely compromise organizational ethical standards to meet unrealistic business objectives/deadlines. In other words, if need be, people would do the wrong thing in order to meet targets and thus protect their jobs.
How can this be wrong?
I can tell you why it is wrong.
Unrealistic business objectives/deadlines are by definition wrong. Sacrificing ethics to meet unrealistic targets is then wrong by reason and logic. Yet many people justify unethical actions as the right choice in an environment where everything is wrong.
Some people argue that doing the right thing is naïve in a world gone mad. That which is expedient is the new right. They are wrong.
Expediency is an overpowering emotion that creates a circumstantial world that serves personal ends. That is madness. More of it will not right the world.
The enduring principle of right in human progress has not succumbed to individual convenience.
The reality of the world is that by doing the right thing and doing things right, the world is right. All the rest is wrong.
Want to learn more? Contact me at 706-267-0609. I want to speak to you about integrity and how it can help you and all of us.
Douglas Ross is an advocate for the promotion of integrity as a strategy for performance.
© 2011 All Rights Reserved, Douglas Ross, Principle Dynamics Consulting Inc.