Friday, July 03, 2015

Stay Alert!

Is it important that teachers (academic, religious, personal growth, coaches, etc.) and leaders (organizational, business, non-profit, military, political, etc.) who espouse ethics and moral codes and constructive behavior be ardent students and practitioners of those codes?  As cliché as it sounds, it comes down to walking the talk.  Do the messengers have a responsibility to be on paths consistent with their messages?  And what of their products and services?  IF your answer is, "Yes, it is important" – then how important is it, in other words, to what degree?  And what to do about it?
In 1989 at a meeting I was attending a company CEO spoke with an employee prior to his (the employee's) testimony as a witness in a trial.  The employee was nervous about how his answers would be received.  Attorneys representing the company told him to simply tell the truth.  But concerned for how "the truth" might impact corporate image, the CEO said in the meeting, "I would never ask you to lie, but just tell the truth beautifully.  Know that I mean?"  I stopped doing business with that company and that CEO.  The employee?  He quit.
The general field I've been engaged in for four decades involves experiential leadership seminars and workshops.  Unfortunately this field has become quite industrialized, kind of "McDonald-ized".  Forty-one years ago only a handful of organizations did this kind of work, and it was pretty rough stuff.  Since that day a lot of improvements have been made.  Along the way, in no small measure thanks to the internet and social media and some slick marketing, thousands of wannabe groups have sprung up.  There are some sincere folks out there, but many of the groups are simply spin offs of spin offs started up by people unstudied and unpracticed in the messages they promote and the programs they facilitate.  Rather than grappling with the messages (appealing and attractive) some of these owners and facilitators get fixated on financial reward, "the bottom line".  Where are they when it comes to ethical or moral code they espouse?  Here's a viewpoint – "bottom lines" have nothing to do with money.  When all the money is gone, the bottom line is the guy or gal looking from the mirror… provided one has the moral courage to actually look into the mirror.   
The embodiment of an ideal takes time and effort and failure and falling off the wagon and getting back on the wagon and scraped knuckles and bruised ego and lost revenue and the willingness to look like a fool – and always being a new student every day.  It's not that the upstarts who fashion the spinoffs shouldn't make the effort to spread the idealistic word or engage in idealistic work.  But if the upstarts aren't interested in study and homework, in doing the "practice" of the ethical/moral codes they espouse enough to practice them, then they should seek a different path.
Being financially rewarded or compensated for service is one thing.  No argument there.  That one sells something he or she doesn't believe in enough to commit the sincere practice of it - ESPECIALLY important when times get tough and the manure is hitting the ventilator – well then, at best this is an insult and at worst it's a satire that leads to decay and ultimately undermines trust.

Lance Giroux
"There is more to life than increasing it's speed", M.K. Gandhi

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