A couple months ago, I wrote about Scott who was faced with an ethical dilemma when his boss told him, “Sometimes ethics and business don’t mix.”
Scott was standing at a crossroads: to upsell needless, more expensive products which would appease his managers or he could do what was in the best interest of the customer yet suffer the consequences. I talk to many twentysomethings who find themselves in similar predicaments that may not seem like a big deal to onlookers. However, something nags internally which does make it a big deal. It weighs on the conscience because the decisions you make end up defining who you are.
Scott had a conviction to maintain some sense of personal integrity in his business dealings that he felt he was being asked to violate. His supervisors tried to convince him that he had to throw out his ethics to be in business. This did not jibe with Scott and he had to deal with this tension.
Scott decided to hold his ground and do what was in the best interest of the customer in spite of his managers’ attempts to convince him otherwise.
Fortunately for Scott, his managers said they understood and allowed him to stay on board even though they knew his revenues would suffer. However, Scott felt his time there was short simply, because there was not a values fit. He decided it was time to move on as he did not want the association with this company. Besides, as with many twentysomethings, this was a stop-gap job and not his real career track.
After making it through multiple rounds of interviews for several positions, nothing was opening up. Then, out of the blue, he was offered an awesome position within his field and much higher pay. Unbeknownst to any of us, it just so happened the job was with someone I had personally known from college—incidentally, someone who I remember having integrity. When I found this out, I contacted my old acquaintance, and said, “I’m glad to hear Scott is working with you, and I think you got a wonderful addition to your team.” To which he replied, “Good to hear you speak highly of Scott to reinforce the decision to bring him on board.”
In this circumstance, integrity won out.
Scott stuck to his values, did not sacrifice who he was, and things worked out very well for him. Yet there are plenty other stories where it seemingly didn’t work out so well.
This is where everyone has to make their own decision: to what extent is it worth it to you to live congruent with your values no matter big or small the issue? Scott realized he would have to live with the potential negative consequences with either decision. If he chose to throw out his integrity would he be able to sleep at night? Or he could have potentially lost his job from slouching sales. What could he live with?
These are truly decisions one has to make on his or her own—particularly as a young adult just starting out.
Living according to your values is a demonstration of your identity.
I encourage people to stick to their values because over time decisions based on your values come to define who you are. The true test of what you value comes when those values are challenged.
What you value is part of who you are–an aspect of your identity.
Times of testing reveal or define your character. If you don’t stick to your values, then was it something you ever valued in the first place?
I commend Scott for living out his values because he was willing to suffer the consequences to maintain who he was.
What do you really value, and will your risk staying true to that which is important to you?
Stop and think about those occasions that could define who you are. What could it say about you to the world?