March 18, 2015 Leave a comment
By Linda Fisher Thornton
I have been thinking about how lightly some leaders take the subject of ethics. Some ignore ethical issues altogether or think ethical issues are unimportant compared to concerns about profitability. It’s a risky choice to take ethics lightly. Why? Unlike heart or kidney transplants, there are no “ethics transplants” for people who have made bad ethical decisions.
We are responsible for our choices. If an ethics transplant did exist and we could easily start over, imagine how long the waiting list would be for that procedure! Since there is no quick fix for failed ethics, we need to protect our ethical reputations carefully, and choose to stay on an ethical path.
In our global society, where almost anything can be obtained for a price, you can’t buy ethics.
While people can recover somewhat from ethical failures, it takes them a long time to earn back people’s trust, if they ever do. In the meantime, they have to pay the price for failing to make ethical choices.
Our choices are very much ours to live with, good or bad, for the rest of our lives.
The journey to an ethical life and ethical leadership is rewarding but it takes personal effort. Plato believed that we should make ethics more important than silver or gold. Silver and gold, after all, are commodities that can be bought, sold or traded at will. Ethics (on the other hand) requires personal effort and growth over time.
Ethics cannot be bought, sold, traded or transferred. It can only be learned, taught and encouraged. You can’t buy it. No one can give it to you, and you can’t replace yours when things go wrong. That makes ethics priceless.
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