Follow Your Own Drummer
Life is interesting. Just when you think you have mastered an aspect of life, it seems there are more challenges thrown our way. What we think, sometimes, is often not what we first believe or seems to change just as we think we are settled on a path or certain direction in life. There are a number of events that seem to distort our perceptions of what we think we wanted.
Such was my case several years ago when I worked for a large organization. My desire was to become a senior manager, a manager who could make a positive impact not just on the projects and issue resolution of the organization but also to help mentor those who wished to progress as well in their own careers.
As time went on, I started to realize something that turned out not to be welcomed within this organization. I lived by a set of ethics, you see, and these ethics seemed to be contrary to the expectations of the organization. It all started to become a bigger and bigger problem the longer I spent within the organization.
In essence, senior staff to me expected that I would cower to their desires even if it meant going against ethical considerations. In one case, an executive ordered me to reveal confidential material from one of my clients. I would not. I was expected to keep client information confidential and that is what I did.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” ~ Albert Einstein
My refusal to obey his order put me totally behind the eight ball. From that point on, my desire to move up in the hierarchy were blocked until he retired. In my view, it appeared that openness; honesty and ethics were of little value any longer indeed if they had been at any time. But, I carried on fully expecting that sooner or later there would be value – how wrong I was.
To me, not betraying my own ethics was like riding a bicycle. If you gave up peddling, you’d stop; if you turned too fast, you’d fall; and if you got off while the road was steep and difficult to climb, you should find another means of transportation.
What I soon found was that I could no longer find value in working within an organization that changed ethics as fast as they changed their clothes. The main criteria to survive were to change your own values as fast the wind changed direction. I would not nor could not comply.
I needed to find a new environment that valued integrity, honesty, and supported ethics, as the rule not just happened to be expedient or convenient.
I did leave. I found that it was much more satisfying to go out on my own even though the road was very bumpy and filled with huge craters. Would I change anything – do I wish I had stayed for the financial security? No.
Now, many years have passed since I made that critical and life-changing decision. And, if you ask me whether those personal and professional ethics have changed in any way, I would have to say yes.
But, not like you might suspect, instead, my ethics have become even stronger and more pronounced. This set of ethics had followed me, or should I really say, lead me steadily forward. I will not compromise them nor will I consider changing them for anything.
I have been lead by these ethics as I have gone on to start businesses, and to relate to customers who come in or stop by to visit. Each person is given the same information without hesitation; there is no deviation from what is and what is not.
The same set of facts is relayed so there is absolutely no possibility of stretching the truth or relaying a little white lie.