Christian Living


No Corporate Corruption

Just Doing My Job

Henry David Thoreau once said: "A man had better starve at once than lose his innocence in the process of getting his bread."

Just doing a job cannot justify doing something unethical, immoral, or dishonest. The guards in the German concentration camps, after becoming friends with the prisoners, would often justify walking them to the gas chambers with, "I'm just doing my job."

I know we have all been inundated with the messy details of the unraveling of Wall Street, so I won’t bore you with more of the same. However, hopefully we will learn the lessons from this blatant example of what’s wrong with the common corporate mentality. Greed, deceit, and a “culture of corporate corruption” can never be justified.

Unfortunately, this is just one more historical example of moral meltdown. When people at the top justify one little breach of integrity and then compound it with another to cover the first, there is no limit to what can be encouraged. Adolf Hitler, Jim Jones, and many others have served as models for leading “normal” individuals to lose all ethical perspective for the good of the cause. And the end result seems to be very predictable – devastation to thousands of innocent people.

Thomas Stanley, in his landmark book, The Millionaire Mind, lists the top five factors most often displayed by millionaires in explaining their economic success: (1) Integrity – being honest with all people, (2) Discipline – applying self control, (3) Social Skills – getting along with people, (4) A Supportive Spouse, and (5) Hard Work. Notice the number one characteristic – Integrity. Without that, any “success” is likely to be short-lived.

What is it that you are justifying doing just because it's part of your job? Just because you have the ability to do something is not enough reason to continue doing it if it violates your values and common sense. If in the completion of your job or business, someone else is ultimately made poorer or taken advantage of, you are in great danger (Prov. 22:22-23). Stop immediately, no matter what it takes.

If your work doesn't express your true values, you're setting yourself up for deceit in other areas of your life – and for the invasion of ulcers, migraines, and cancers as evidence of a less than authentic life. In the movie Cool Hand Luke, a guard says, "I'm just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that." And Paul Newman responds: "Nah, calling it your job don't make it right, boss." I agree.

(Incidentally, we all had to say goodbye to Paul Newman. He appeared to be an actor with unusual integrity in real life as well.)

Happy Birthday, Hula Hoop!

The Hula Hoop turns 50 this year – at least as we know it. Actually, hoops were used as toys, being pushed along with sticks over 3,000 years ago in Egypt. Native Americans used hoops as a target for teaching accuracy in hunting. But then in 1957 Richard Knerr and Arthur Melin of Wham-O started marketing a lightweight plastic version of the Hula Hoop. They sold over 100 million from January to October of 1958 at $1.98 each.

Knerr and Melin were not able to patent the Hula Hoop as it had been around for many years. All they did was make it out of a new material and then market it well. Which highlights a very important point. I see people stuck in the “patenting” process – wasting time and money on what may be an insignificant part of their success.

Keep in mind that most people put too much emphasis on developing their product or idea, and not enough on Marketing. If you have a new invention:

  • 2% of your challenge – Protecting your Idea (Patent, Trademark, Copyright)
  • 8% of your challenge – Is it a valid idea or product?
  • 90% of your challenge – What is your Marketing Plan?

Most people spend too much initial time, energy, and money protecting their idea rather than selling or marketing it.

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