One of the best things you can be in life and in business is more outgoing and more approachable when it comes to making new friends. I thought I’d use this time between us to talk about my history- how I’m more outgoing, more boisterous; how I make great connections, how I shake more hands, and how it’s benefited me in my life and in my business.
Far too often does the process of making bad choices, unethical choices, begin with a simple almost thoughtless decision. How do I know? I am living proof that good people can make really bad choices and profound doesn’t come close to describing the experience.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I see this coming. When I first started “borrowing” from my client I had every intent of paying back what I took. Heck, I did pay some of it back…at least at the beginning!” Those were the words I shared as I openly confessed that the life I was living was, for the most part, an illusion. Truth be told for all my legitimate successes, I had over time become no more than a liar and a thief. My choices created consequences that he never dreamed were possible.
Some people have advised that I should not be so transparent, especially when writing an article for such a prestigious organization. By my recantation of my ethical fall is all too common. People who fold their arms stating “I would never do something illegal much less unethical!” find that what triggers inappropriate behavior is a basic part of human nature. We are all subject to temptation and therefore can and do make bad choices. I am but an example.
If bad choices lead to tough consequences, what can we do to identify bad behavior before it starts? What can we do, as managers or leaders, to prevent unethical choices from being made in the first place? Those are two very profound questions, both of which are at the heart of why it is critical to talk about the Human Side of Ethics in your organization
The Three Components of Bad Behavior
Research has shown that three behaviors are at the core of what would cause or allow an otherwise ethical person to make unethical and potentially illegal choices. These behaviors are well documented and for those who are charged with detecting fraud (Statement of Auditing Standards #99) are called “the fraud triangle”
Need. Described as perceived pressure that a person is experiencing, is the first and critical component of what motives a person to stray from ethical to unethical. Need may come in a variety of forms. The person who is in too much debt likely experiences financial strain – which was the root of my need. Alice, a church secretary, found her need triggered by her granddaughter:54’s diagnosis of cancer. Infamous Bernie Madoff’s need was certainly not money; likely, he was triggered by the need to be infallible. Whatever the pressure, need is the core emotional state that starts the ball rolling from a choice that is ethical to unethical.
Opportunity. It makes no difference what your need may be if you don’t have the opportunity to satisfy it then the unethical and potentially illegal choice fails. Without Opportunity there is no fuel for the potential unethical fire. I was a trusted employee, and with that trust came opportunity. Alice was trusted, and had been for so many years that no one could comprehend she was capable of any unethical activity. Madoff took opportunity founded in trust to a new level.
Rationalization. Need combined with opportunity provides a firm foundation, but the glue that holds unethical activity together is the ability to rationalize that what is wrong, is right. If you ask most people found guilty of unethical/illegal behavior, they will tell you they felt their actions were legitimate. Mark, for example, rationalized that he was not “stealing” money as long as his intent was to pay it back. Further, he solidified this mental game by paying some of the money back. “Surely, I wasn’t guilty of stealing money as long as I was paying it back,” he stated.
The mind can be tricky and when you combine need with opportunity, and can rationalize bad:00 behavior as good, you have the perfect storm to move from ethical to unethical, and potential illegal, behavior.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Unethical Activities?
As business managers, HR Directors and those connected with Compliance, there are clear actions we can take that can help keep folks between the ethical lines.
Look for Need! While we can’t control what needs our employees have, we can be aware of any changes or activities that would suggest an increase in need and the stress that need brings.
I was the one responsible for my unethical actions. I was in too much debt and succumbed to the pressure of my need by turning to an unethical activity. I blame no one, but I also have to acknowledge that if those close to me (my partners in business for example) had noticed my changing patterns of behavior their attention might have thwarted my actions.
When subconscious need is brought to light or becomes conscious, then often the outcome is reduced inclination toward unethical behavior. So, signs to look indicating increased need are: (1) calls from creditors or personal calls intensifying at work; (2) abnormal purchases without apparent new sources of funding; (3) lifestyle changes and/or (4) marital issues or challenges with aging parents.
Need is the fuel that supports the possibility of unethical behavior. The challenge most managers face with thinking about “Need” is to be open minded enough to consider the potential sources of “Need” so that what might fuel unethical behavior can be suppressed.
Minimize Opportunities. The most effective course of action to keep our employees and associates between ethical lines is to remove opportunities to conduct unethical activities. For example, I embezzled money from a client’s trust fund. While I am not proud of that action (now some 25+ years ago), had the bank account that I used required two signatures, the embezzlement would have been far more difficult. Think about it, with that minor change what would I do, ask the co-signer to help me steal money from the trust? The answer is simple, of course not. So, less opportunity equals less chance for unethical activity.
A practical question is how do we reduce opportunity? Some of the answers are obvious. Minimize opportunities by: (1) requiring multiple signatures on checks; (2) require people to rotate job responsibilities from time to time; (3) strongly encourage employees to take vacations or time off; and/or (4) ask employees from different positions within the company to identify how people can or do act unethically. When a person is aware that their actions are being watched or subject to being watched, the “Opportunity” factor decreases substantially. As worn out as the line might be, people really do respect what management inspects. Of course, management must be subject to inspection as well.
Train Rationalization. Depending on one’s internal ethical compass, what one person can easily rationalize may be a problem for another. Therefore, as managers our role (just as important as the more analytical “Opportunity” role) is to educate our people on the significance of “Rationalization” identifying what it sounds like and when it might appear.
When employees hear what rationalization sounds like, when we bring to consciousness what is active in the subconscious, it becomes far easier to support each other in our ethical choices. At a recent ethics seminar an attendee commented, “But everybody does it.” As those words were spoken, another participant yelled out, “Rationalization!” The crowd erupted in laughter as people began to see just how simple and easy it is to rationalize the “little things”. And, when we rationalize the little, the larger unethical choices become easier to swallow.
Your Ethical Culture
Every business or organization needs to remember that the creation of an ethical culture is exemplified in the actual behavior and attitudes of all team members. The question is not so much whether you talk the talk (in policy documents, training materials or video or webinars), but rather whether you walk the walk.
Want to create a culture of ethical behavior in your organization? It’s easy if you think about it. When you start by understanding how good people make bad choices, and follow it with an effective ethics-training program that reinforces ethical choices and accountability, you have a recipe for success. Every choice has a consequence. What choices do you make for your organization to help keep your most valuable assets between the ethical lines?
About the Author
Chuck Gallagher is the President of the Ethics Resource Group and an international expert in business ethics. Chuck provides training, presentations and consultation with associations and companies on ethics and creating ethical cultures where people do the right thing, not because they have to, but because they want to! Information can be found at http://chuckgallagher.com or Chuck can be reached via email email@example.com.
[youtube width=”640″ height=”360″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CL1d36I4t2Q[/youtube]This is this the phrase that I have on my cell phone home page: Imperfect Daily Action. In reminds that small forwards steps are the best way forwards towards any achievement. It also helps me accept my imperfection and not get so down on myself for minor setbacks. Watch the video and let me know what you think.Read More
Laughter is a good thing. Scientists tell us that laughter, humor and joy are an important part of life. Laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and increases muscle flexion. It increases the circulation of antibodies in the blood stream and makes us more resistant to infection.
Laughter is good for us physically, but that is just the beginning. Laughter is good for the soul. There is a holiness in laughter. Laughter brings us closer to each other – and there is something holy about people coming together. Laughter provides us a moment of grace. It occurs spontaneously and unexpectedly. It catches us by surprise and we respond with laughter. We never expect to laugh, just as we never expect grace or good fortune when it arrives. And in that grace, we are able to recognize the folly of our own pursuits.
Laughter helps us to transcend ourselves, and I need that help. Too often I take myself far too seriously. There is a danger of taking ourselves, our beliefs and our life too seriously. Fanatics, it seems to me, see nothing as funny. Here’s a suggestion. The next time you’re in the middle of an argument, start laughing – not in a derogatory tone, but in the jovial sense of being in on a good joke. Then see if the anger begins to melt away and if you can find a more creative way to handle things. I’ve done this with my kids and it actually works. And you know what else? Now I know that when I think about doing it and don’t, that I have lost my perspective.
Laughter can be an important tool for keeping our troubles in proportion, for realizing that things aren’t always as bad as we think they are. But even when things are as bad as we think they are, laughter helps create positive emotions and helps us find a frame of mind in which we can more easily cope with the struggles of life. Laughter eases tension and sharpens our ability to concentrate. Laughter is a lot like changing a baby’s diaper. It doesn’t permanently solve any problems, but it makes things a lot more acceptable for a while.
If I am able to laugh with you in my mistakes as well as with you in yours, it suggests we are all flawed and imperfect. Embracing good natured humor, we find the humility to see the foolishness of trying to be perfect and the gift of enjoying the smiles and laughter of love.
Children laugh on average 200 times a day and adults only 26 times a day. How many times a day do you experience the rich joy of laughter? If we want to be happier, healthier, and more productive we seriously need to make time to laugh. Because when we laugh, when we really laugh, deep from the belly… we feel alive! Start looking for more reasons to laugh today.
Barbara Lee, the Sex Minister, is an international author, award winning speaker and accomplished group facilitator and trainer.She has committed her vocational journey to the non-profit sector and ministry where she is an advocate for diverse populations, particularly the marginalized and voiceless in our society. Barbara has an MBA in Leadership Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration. She is an ordained interfaith minister who has led pilgrimages to the Five Holy Peaks of Taoism in China. Barbara, a resident of Grand Haven, was a presenter at TEDxMuskegon 2013. Her books include Sacred Sex: Replacing the Marriage Ethic with a Sexual Ethic and Tension in the Tank: Embracing Interfaith Mysticism Without Leaving the Church. More information is available at thesexminister.com or barbaraleeauthor.com
Fear should never be allowed to hinder one in life. In reality, fear is nothing but, “false evidence appearing real”. That means that if you dissected the fear that a person had, then you would find no reason for it. A friend of mine told me recently of how she used to be afraid of dogs, until she was the age of 33. When my friend was a child, her aunt told her of a story of being bitten by a dog when she too was a little girl. She even showed my friend her wound. My friend became so terrified of dogs from that point on. It was almost as if my friend had “inherited” this fear from her aunt. Never had my friend been bitten or had any reason to be afraid of dogs, but she carried this fear for years. She assumed she would always be that way until one day she dated a guy who owned a Rottweiler. At first she experienced those same dreaded reactions that she always would when she came into contact with a dog. However, this time she soon realized that, although the dog was huge, there was no cause for her being intimidated by him…he was just a 150 lb. puppy, who happened to be extremely loveable. From that point on, her fear of dogs vanished.
It is ridiculous to think that a person could actually be fearful based on something that happened to someone else, right? Not really. This occurs every day. Too often, people are afraid to start a business, write and publish a book, go back to school or of making an investment in their future. Not because they have tried before, but because they knew someone else who tried and failed. Or you have the other end of the spectrum where a person may actually be afraid to succeed. Either case is a tragedy in life and could result in a person being stuck in their own world.
No matter how you look at it, you can never win with fear. Fear can be just as devastating as a plague, if allowed to exist, and has the potential to spread to so many other areas in life. That’s why it is vital to face fear head on. In life, we should never allow fear to score more touchdowns than we do, if we expect to win. And we do. Instead, deal with your fears before they become so detrimental to progression in life.
How do we deal with fear? Although not always a simple answer, some steps include:
Follow these steps with each fear that you may have. Make sure that you have conquered one before moving to another. Progress may not come overnight. Each person is different. Do not hesitate to seek professional help if your fear is deeply rooted and/or a result of trauma.
Know that you are predestined to win in life, not lose to fear. Refuse to give up or give in. Make the choice to tackle your fears today!
Shonda R. Murphy is a Life Coach at Divine Direction Life Coaching and a Financial Planner for Primerica, Inc. As an advocate of financial literacy, she thrives on helping individuals through life transitions as they get back on track, especially in the area of their finances.Read More
It always seems like there’s supposed to be this one magical day where everything goes from being ho-hum to some new level of greatness. People ask me all the time whether some specific event changed everything for me. I understand why. That’s how movies and books and comics all make it seem. You’re bitten by a radioactive spider or your parents are murdered in front of you or you get exposed to gamma radiation and pow, life gets quite different. But that’s never how it goes.
WHERE DOES IT ALL BEGIN?
It begins with a choice. Everything we do begins with a choice, but this choice is married to a commitment. We commit to something more for ourselves, something bigger. This can happen in any part of your life. You say no to dessert and feel the power of self discipline. You decide to push for 225 on the bench press and work at it week after week until you hit 305 instead. Or it happens at work. You have to make an extra $2000 and you push hard and hit $5000.
But that’s the beginning. What comes next is a series of realizations that go something like this:
And once that bunch of thoughts erupt behind your eyes, everything changes. That’s where it all begins. Sometimes, it takes a few dozen times. Sometimes, it takes a hundred times. Who knows?
The difference between those people you view as successful and those people whose names you can’t even remember is that commitment to growth (Tweet That), that understanding of how to apply a lesson learned in more than one place, and the power to persist, even after you fall down a few times.
That’s what I see and that’s how I help others make their win happen.
Chris Brogan is CEO of Owner Media Group, a media and education company dedicated to equipping people to own the game they most want to win. He is the New York Times bestselling author of 8 books and counting, including his latest, The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth. Learn more at CallingAllFreaks.com
It is that time of the day again. That time where we muster all of the strength we have to get out of bed, plant our two feet firmly on the ground, take a deep breath, and start believing again. We did it yesterday and if we are extremely lucky we’ll get to do it again tomorrow. We will have that chance to believe and act on our belief. Our belief that we were meant to do something significant with our lives. The belief that there is more to our existence other than staring at little small computer screens all day long. And the belief that we have the ability to make somebody else’s life better as a result of us being alive. Sometimes it feels like progress comes too slow, and that other people are just dying to block us at every opp. But yet we still get up every day and put those two feet on the ground. That is faith. That is believing. That plus massive action every day is what will make us successful.
I don’t know that I am a thought leader . But I was called one about eight months ago. It is not something I was working on – it just kind of happened. It is not something I am going to brag about in books or put behind my name in every conference presentation. I think that the “status: kind of just developed over time. But my insight may help you to see how to get your thoughts noticed.
If you were to talk to my close friends and family, they would probably tell you that I am “argumentative”. Of course I’ve never seen it that way, and what do they know right? But I do tend to look at conversations and situations from a jaded point of view. Or at least from a point of view that most people do not approach. When people say that “A B C are facts” I’ll tend to challenge them and make the conversation go deeper. When I go to conference after conference and I see experts on stage all saying the same thing about a topic, I tend to start investigating the topic on my own time and see how much of what they say is fact and how much is self-aggrandising speaker hot air. ( I hope other speakers and conference attendees do that about what I say. I might be lying! )
About a year ago I was having drinks with a very smart gentleman named Corey Perlman who is a brilliant social media speaker. We are both members of the National Speakers Association and were both at the same annual conference. (Sidebar: You should look at joining the NSA. There is no better place to network with successful speakers). He said something to me that I’ll never forget:
Patrick – I love the stuff you post online. You are such a contrarian.
“Wow” I thought. Corey is a pretty popular guy in his field so to get a compliment from him felt pretty good. Plus we were a bunch of professional speakers out having drinks and the truth usually comes out when we’ve had a few.
Fast forward to eight months ago. I was approached by one of the editors of Speaker Magazine (the official magazine of the National Speakers Association) who wanted me to write a featured article for one of the sections. Part of the email that encouraged me to write said:
A fellow NSA member, and friend of yours, recommended you as a thought leader on social media and marketing, if that helps sway your opinion one way or another
I’ve got an ego just like everybody else – of course this is going to sway me. That phrase had never been used on me before and it felt great.
Since that initial email the phrase has been used several more times about me – publicly and privately. I run a private Facebook group (click here to apply to join) that helps speakers market themselves better in the world. I’ve received constant praise for my work in that group. I didn’t think I was doing anything special; I’m just helping out a bunch of speakers in a quiet, spam-free environment. And that brings to me how I think YOU can become a thought leader also.
Here are the behaviors that I believe caused someone to call me a “thought leader” status:
Having a Voice – This is the most important step. Too many people in this world “talk about talking”. And few… very few… actually stand up and voice their opinion on a topic. Most people would rather keep their heads down and blend in . Life is safe when you just keep ducking and keep your mouth shut. However if you want to be recognized for your opinion or your accomplishments, you cannot be shy with your voice. When your become a blogger, a speaker, a teacher or a television personality you are going to have to get past your shyness and get on a platform.
Being a contrarian – If you ever hear something in a conversation that sounds stupid or read something on the internet and think “well that just sounds stupid” THEN SAY SO (even if it comes from me). Be tactful about it, but jump on it if it just does not seem right and share your opinion about it. There will be at least one person who will agree with you. But they don’t have the courage to say it. So when you do voice your contrarian opinion you are likely speaking for several people. (This is the reason that it has always annoyed me that Facebook only gives you a LIKE button and not a DISLIKE button.)
Don’t be afraid to call experts out – This is kind of like being a contrarian, but with the addition of addressing specific people that you do not agree with. When several popular experts tend to have the same opinion about a topic, it is time for someone to look at the other side. And if you don’t agree with what an expert says, feel free to call them out on their opinion via video, blogging or social media (or even in person if you get the chance). We tend to believe anybody that stands on stage and speaks. There is a dangerous trend in the world of speakers/experts. They tend to repeat each other. I’ll take social media as an example. All you have to do is go to about two social media conferences and you will like hear everything you’d hear at a future conference. Experts (of which I like to think I am one) tend to parrot each other. They/We will go to conference, see someone say something that appears insightful, and then repeat it to our tribe. This can be dangerous if the original source of the information didn’t have their facts straight.
I’d like to wrap this up with a great quote I heard recently.
You don’t have to be best in the world. You just have to be the best in THEIR (i.e. Your audience) world.
Being a thought leader means being the best you can be for YOUR tribe. If you follow my guidelines above will be on the right path.
We will gladly give our time, attention and money to a person who knows what they are talking about. Or at least thinks they know they are talking about. But self-confidence does not come naturally to a lot people. I think our upbringing drastically affects whether we leave the nest with a ton of self-confidence or very little.
Self-confidence is the ability to believe and display the attitude that you know what you are doing. It is a virtue desired by employers, mates and friends. The world is a beautiful balance of people who have varying levels of self-confidence. The people on one end of the scale are fearful that they are not good enough or don’t know enough to open up and share their wisdom. The people on the extreme other end of the scale of self-confidence are brash, arrogant, and generally unpleasant to be around. If you can find a way to be confident but be just below the extreme, the world will love you and eat you up. They will applaud you and live vicariously through you. And as a bonus – they will pay good money to be around you and learn from you.
Here are the mindsets that you should remember when you are not quite sure of what you are getting ready to tackle – or even if you should be doing it:
Bonus: When you see people that appear “self-confident” and wish you were more like them, remember this: They may have the same fears and insecurities that you do. Fifteen minutes before you saw them they may have been sitting in their car doing self-talk to get up the courage to do what you are seeing them do now. Some of the people that appear confident in public are terribly insecure in private. They are just really good actors, and their desire for accomplishment is greater than their fear of failure.
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